Hartland man shares his experience with prostate cancer

Steve Johnson, who has prostate cancer, sits in his home along with his two “COVID dogs,” Micky and Mini.

 

HARTLAND — When Steve Johnson, a 65-year old lifelong Wisconsin resident who now lives in Hartland, was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago, it came as a complete surprise.

The then-60-year-old got a routine physical that involved testing his blood for prostate specific antigens, and when the test came back, it was clear that he had a severe case of prostate cancer.

Over the next five years, Johnson was forced to undergo myriad treatments that made him spend a month going to the hospital to get targeted radiation, killed testosterone and made his libido non-existent. While he said that he’s been able to live a mostly normal life even while he continues to deal with the cancer today, he’s encouraging men who are 45 or older to get a prostate specific antigen, or PSA, blood test, so they can avoid going through what he’s had to.

“Get a PSA test, regardless of what your doctor says,” Johnson said.

The retired engineer who now does part-time maintenance and engineering work in Menomonee Falls said that it was initially hard to contend with his diagnosis. Prostate cancer, unlike many other forms of cancer, Johnson said, isn’t talked about very much. He said that while his wife was incredibly supportive, many men aren’t willing to discuss the realities of it.

“It’s an old man’s disease,” said Johnson.

But when one in nine men are affected by prostate cancer according to data provided by Us TOO, a nonprofit dedicated to educating people about prostate cancer and providing support for men and their families who suffer from it, that’s a problem.

It’s a problem that Us TOO, an Illinois-based nonprofit, is dedicated to helping with. The organization offers support for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, caregivers, and information about the different treatment options for the cancer.

Terri Likowski, a program director at the organization, said that it’s important to remember that prostate cancer is treatable. She said that there are numerous treatment options for the cancer, especially if it’s caught early, with more being developed every day. However, the most important thing for men to do is to get tested regularly, she said, because there aren’t many signs of prostate cancer before it becomes severe.

In addition, Likowski said, like most cancers, being healthy is an effective way to prevent getting prostate cancer, although men with a family history of the cancer are still more likely to get it.

“Anything that’s healthy is prostate healthy,” she said.

To help people stay healthy, and to continue to bring awareness to the deadly cancer during September’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the organization will be holding “The SEA Blue” virtual prostate cancer walk and run between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 26. According to a press release, the event is designed to build camaraderie among men who suffer from prostate cancer.

For the event, people can either participate alone or in a team to fundraise, go for a walk and tune into a virtual broadcast that will discuss the cancer on Sunday morning.

Johnson, who has participated in the run before it went virtual, said that it was a great experience that helps brings men together, and anyone who wants to participate in the free event can view the details online at https://ustoo.rallybound.org/sea-blue-2021/. For more information and resources for prostate cancer, too, visit www.ustoo.org/Home.