Dan Hennessey was diagnosed with prostate cancer 6 years ago and in his own words, ‘has seen life go from ordinary to extraordinary’. During his battle and victory against prostate cancer, Dan has dedicated his time to making a difference in the lives of those going through this disease in addition to doing his part to raise awareness. Dan authored a book on his prostate cancer journey – With The Snap of a Glove in 2010 which received rave reviews and offers the message of ‘hope’ to all diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dan was honored with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal for his work with Prostate Cancer Advocacy in 2012.
Read CureTalk’s interview with Dan Hennessey…
Me: Dan, what were the symptoms that led to your diagnosis?
Dan: As a 49-year-old very active man, I had no idea what a prostate was or that mine was in trouble. I played hockey three times a week, ran, and was an avid golfer. I also had two children, one an adult but the other less than a year old. I did not even notice the extra trips to the bathroom at night and if I did, I just figured that I had too much water before bed. My family doctor was a friend and he also played hockey so my infrequent appointments usually turned into just a chat session and nothing was ever mentioned about my prostate or if it was I just ignored what seemed not to be an issue for me. On prompting from my wife to change family doctors and start going to the same one that she goes to as well as our daughter, turned out to be actually a decision that would eventually save my life. On my first visit with the new doctor, he suggested that we do a little blood work so he could get to know me inside and out along with a DRE. I said that blood work was a good idea but everything else seems fine. He insisted and before I could say a word, I heard the snap of his glove and immediately he could tell that something was not right. The blood work came back with a PSA reading of 7.2 so he decided that a referral to a Urologist was the next best step and once the biopsy was concluded it was determined that I had Stage T2 or T3 Prostate Cancer and it was suggested that surgery was the best solution for a man my age.
Me: What was your treatment regimen?
Dan: In March or 2006, I entered hospital to have a Radical Prostatectomy performed. When I woke up from the surgery, my Urologist informed me that during the surgery what they discovered that the cancer stage was more of a Stage T3 and that they felt that additional treatment might make sense as a safe guard. So six weeks after surgery I started a series of External Beam Radiation treatments, 33 treatments to be precise to hopefully ensure that nothing was left behind. I have also had additional surgery to implant a male sling to assist with mild incontinence which unfortunately did not achieve the results that we had hoped for due to the consistency of the tissue from the radiation treatment did not work well with the implanted device. I will actually be having another procedure on March 8th to implant a new device that has been designed for us radiation guys and hopefully the results will be more positive.
Me: Are you on any treatment now?
Dan: Other than the additional surgery for March, the only thing that I do at this point is an annual PSA test and a customary visit to my Urologist. Watch what I eat and try to stay healthy being given a second run at life is always on the top of my list and on February I get to walk one of my three daughters down the aisle on her wedding day. One down two to go!
Me: How is quality of life post treatment?
Dan: I am now almost 57, with cancer behind me, life is great, and I plan to keep it that way. I have taken to task, prostate cancer for what it is, something that men have to be more aware of. I wrote a book in 2010 about my journey with hope that men can get an idea about prostate cancer by someone that has gone through the good and the bad. I continue to speak about the importance of awareness and inject my humor in my presentations as a way to make the message a little easier for people to accept. Our third daughter was conceived through in vitro fertilization because we took the advice of our doctor prior to my surgery as both my wife and I wanted more children and spoke to the experts, she is now almost 6 years old, and we refer to her as our amazing Grace!
- Cure Talk Interviews Dan Zenka, VP, Communications, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Blogger, and Prostate Cancer Survivor
- CureTalk Interviews Jack Aiello, Multiple Myeloma Survivor and Advocate – Part 2: Fighting Myeloma and Living a Normal Life
- CureTalk Interviews Jack Aiello, Multiple Myeloma Survivor and Advocate – Part 1: Jack’s Myeloma Story
- CureTalk Interview With Linnea Duff: Healthcare Advocate and Lung Cancer Survivor
- CureTalk Interview With Nicolas van Dyk, Multiple Myeloma Survivor And Author of Nick’s Myeloma Blog – Part 1