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My Personal Prescription for Surviving Cancer

Posted on by DCPC

By George Hilliard

Photo of George Hilliard

I had already survived two kinds of cancer when, during my annual physical exam, my doctor gave me the shocking news that I now had prostate cancer.

Well, as I had done twice before, I began my journey back to health by relying on my support network and positive attitude. You’ve got to have a support network. For me, my faith network comes first. That’s number one. Then there’s my doctor, my wife, family and friends, supervisor, and coworkers. My wife is amazing! She took on the task of supporting me by keeping up with my appointments, knowing which doctors I was to see, and even managing the insurance matters. She helped me keep the doctors apprised of what was going on. It’s also very important to have a doctor who is well-informed and who keeps you involved when making decisions.

With so many life-changing choices ahead of me, the last worry I needed was concern about my job. My boss was outstanding! We worked together to make sure my responsibilities were covered while I received my daily routine of care—2 hours a day, Monday through Friday. I don’t know what I would have done if I did not have a supportive supervisor and the benefit of sick leave.

Because I work with CDC’s Center for Global Health, I got moral support from around the globe. I never knew so many people cared. I got e-mails and cards from everywhere—Turkey, England, Hawaii.

I’ve been cancer-free for 4 years now, and I’m under careful monitoring for the next 6 years to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. I have my dark days. Those are going to happen. But I’ve got to feel good, and with my support network, I am able to have a positive attitude. You have to have a positive attitude!

I also work at keeping a confident outlook on life by participating in cancer discussion groups with other survivors. Their stories encourage me. It really helps to talk with others who are experiencing prostate cancer. I’ve even helped another guy prepare for his prostate cancer journey. Men, we have to talk to our doctors about prostate health. If a guy learns that he has prostate cancer, he should work with his doctor to tailor the treatment that works for him.

With my caring and knowledgeable support network, I can now worry about other things, like finally finding reliable contractors to finish the home improvement projects my wife and I want to do.

CDC’s prostate cancer expert, Dr. Ingrid Hall, explained, “George’s experience highlights the importance of social support in the decision-making, treatment, and follow-up period following a cancer diagnosis. We have long studied communication between patient, family, and provider (the decision-making triad), associations with quality of life, and resulting satisfaction with care. George’s reliance on his ‘support team’ has likely contributed to his positive outlook.”

Posted on by DCPC

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