Stories of Hope
Prostate Cancer Survivor Advocates Healthy Eating and Exercise
Article date: February 5, 2013
"The worst thing you can do with any life-threatening disease is sit around all day waiting for the next test. If I die tomorrow I think I could look at myself in the mirror and say I tried everything I could to live as healthy a life as possible. I didn't just sit around and hope that the next treatment might work."
Arthur Fowle has never had a weight problem, so he used to eat whatever he wanted and didn’t worry about getting regular exercise. That was before he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer at age 59. Now, after surgery and radiation treatment, Fowle sticks to a low-fat diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and he avoids red meat (beef, pork, and lamb). He works out at a gym 5 days a week. Increasingly, studies show that healthy eating and maintaining an active lifestyle after a cancer diagnosis can lower the chances of the cancer coming back.
Fowle said, “I can live with dying from prostate cancer. I cannot live without doing everything I can to live the healthiest and longest life possible.”
An aggressive cancer
Fowle’s prostate cancer was diagnosed through a biopsy in August 2007. His Gleason score was 8, meaning the cancer was likely to grow and spread quickly. His urologist recommended surgery, and Fowle wanted it done immediately, but it wasn’t scheduled until 2 months later. Fowle said waiting for the surgery was difficult. He said, “I learned it’s hurry up and wait. That was somewhat frustrating.”
The surgery to remove Fowle’s prostate went well, and he had few complications with his recovery. But about a year later, his PSA levels began to rise, an indication some prostate cancer cells remained in his body. He went through radiation treatments, which he tolerated well. His PSA dropped below 0.1, but about a year later, it began to rise again. Doctors decided to keep an eye on things for now through regular checkups before recommending further treatment.
Fowle said, “That was probably the worst time I ever went through because I knew enough to know I was stuck with this thing for the rest of my life. It was like a kick in the stomach.”
‘I had to do something’
In October 2010, after another disappointing PSA result, Fowle decided he couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself; he had to do something. He began reading books and articles about prostate cancer and talking to doctors and nutritionists.
He developed his own diet and exercise program and follows it faithfully. A typical breakfast is unsweetened whole-grain cereal with soy milk, berries, tea, fruit juice, and vegetable juice. A typical lunch is a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, and fruit and vegetable juice. For dinner, he eats grilled or baked chicken, turkey, or fish; fruit and vegetables; and water to drink. He avoids red meat, salt, sugar, and fried foods. He also takes several supplements, which he added to his diet after asking a hospital nutritionist about their risks and benefits.
Most days he lifts weights, gets cardio exercise on an elliptical machine, and practices yoga. He plays golf and goes to the driving range a few times a week.
Fowle said, “The minute I started this program it’s almost like overnight my entire attitude changed. I’d wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and feel I was doing something good for myself.”
Advocate for awareness
Today Fowle calls himself an advocate for awareness. He attends local Man To Man support group meetings once a month. At one meeting, he presented his diet and exercise program to the group. Often, he answers questions from newly diagnosed men facing surgery or recovering from it.
He reads at least one new article on nutrition or prostate cancer every day and shares what he learns with family and friends. If anyone in his circle is diagnosed with cancer, he’s the one they call. He tells them they need to be their own health advocates.
Fowle said, “The worst thing you can do with any life-threatening disease is sit around all day waiting for the next test. If I die tomorrow I think I could look at myself in the mirror and say I tried everything I could to live as healthy a life as possible. I didn’t just sit around and hope that the next treatment might work.”