Prostate Cancer Survivor Tells His Story to Help Others

"My mission in life is to pay it forward and give back. Others have given so much to me. I'm a survivor. Cancer is not going to define who I am, but it's a part of who I am."

Bob Hayman
photo of Bob Hayman and his family

Prostate cancer survivor Bob Hayman, 53, wants to share his story with anyone who wants to hear it. “My mission in life is to pay it forward and give back,” said Hayman. “Others have given so much to me. I’m a survivor. Cancer is not going to define who I am, but it’s a part of who I am. It can be scary when you get those 3 words from your doctor, ‘You have cancer.’”

Hayman first heard those words in January, 2014. He’d had a prostate cancer screening during a routine doctor’s office visit that included a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test. The results were suspicious, so the doctor sent Hayman to a urologist, who did more tests, including a prostate biopsy, CT scan, and ultrasound. The tests confirmed that Hayman had prostate cancer.

His doctor gave him treatment options that included surgery, radiation, or a clinical trial. Hayman joined a prostate cancer support group so that he could meet and talk to other men who’d been through treatment. He opted for surgery to remove his prostate, after which all signs of cancer were gone.

But about 1 ½ years later at a follow-up visit, the urologist found that Hayman’s PSA levels were once again elevated. He gave Hayman more treatment options: wait and continue to monitor the cancer to see if active treatment would become necessary, or begin radiation treatment at once. Hayman decided on radiation treatment. He began in January 2016 so that he’d meet his health insurance deductibles early in the year. He finished treatment in March, and his last PSA test indicated no cancer.

Paying for treatment

An insurance agent, Hayman had sold himself a cancer policy about 2 years before he was first diagnosed. The payout from the policy helped him with medical costs and living expenses while he was recovering and unable to work. “When fighting cancer, it’s easy to rack up bills fast,” says Hayman.

But once you use cancer insurance, you can’t get it again, so when Hayman’s cancer came back, he didn’t have that safety net. “Everyone wants their money and everything adds up,” he says. Hayman found help for himself and his family through Nightingale’s Harvest, a food bank in Toledo, Ohio that provides food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies to people with cancer and their families.

Life after cancer

Hayman’s treatment left him with urinary incontinence, but he considers it a small price to pay. “My problems are small compared to what others have to go through with their cancer,” he says. “I have a family; I can drive a car; I can do things I want to do in my life; I have my independence.”

He continues to attend meetings from his prostate cancer support group. A doctor who spoke to the group motivated him to eat a healthier diet. As a result, he began cutting back on sugar, carbohydrates, and processed food, and paying attention to calories and portion sizes. Since last year, he’s lost 25 pounds.

Hayman is now looking for ways to help other people with cancer by working with volunteer organizations, hospitals, and an American Cancer Society Relay For Life team that raises money to invest in cancer research and to provide information and services to cancer patients and caregivers.

“Cancer doesn’t care what age you are, what color you are, or how much money you have,” said Hayman. “I’m willing to work with anyone, no matter what type of cancer they have. We’re all survivors.”

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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