Late Friday afternoon a group of three guys showed up and took the spot next to mine; it looked like a granddad, dad and son (turned out I was right). They backed in a nice boat and made the decision to try to wait out the wind, which was supposed to stop around 7:00 pm. Until then, there was a severe wind warning for our area. I love weather apps. I went over and chatted bit about the wind and stuff and somehow wound around to my story about prostate cancer and my journey. They told me the granddad was a 13-year survivor of prostate cancer, which I found really exciting – to meet a man who was winning the fight was really good for me. However, I didn’t get the chance to talk much with him that night.
The morning after the crazy, terrifying windstorm, I got my hot cocoa and went over to visit the guys again. It was interesting to talk about the wind and their experience. Their tent folded down flat a couple times and then just popped back up. They hadn’t had to wage the battle for survival that I had! Amazing how differently the two tents behaved. We talked about river-fishing and I had a lot of questions because I don’t ever fish rivers. I know we talked again a little about my journey but fail to remember exactly what.
As they were getting ready to head out for the day, the granddad said, “I hear we have something in common.” He took my hand with a strong grip and said, “We’ll meet again” as he patted me on the arm, as granddads often do. There was a lot of unspoken emotion as we silently acknowledged the gravity of our situations. He turned and caught up with the guys and they left to go fishing. More than a little glassy-eyed, I went about my business getting my truck ready for some touring around the area.
After they left to go fishing I drove down to the river and boat launch. The launch was was nice – pretty big. Then I went exploring down the highway where there are a bunch of rocks that are standing up with little or no support. Pretty cool looking, but I never got a good picture. Yeah, I know, what the hell? I could at least take a few, right? I don’t know, I just get wrapped up in the moment and forget. I stopped by a little store and bought a souvenir tee shirt, but forgot to look at size, so I’ll have to find a friend that wears a medium. lol. After killing a little more time, I went back to my campsite.
It was getting close to dusk when my three neighbors got home and I went over to see their catch: five really nice rainbow trout. You could tell they had a great time. Fishing as a family is fun, they had the whole day, and brought home fish, too – a good day to say the least. We chatted a bit and as it was late, I headed off to bed.
The next morning was when I really got to hear the granddad’s story; he is truly an amazing man. He fought the system when he knew something was wrong and his doctors were not responding like he thought they should. His generation was taught that the doctor is always right, just do what they say and don’t ever question them. He did question them, and he’s here because of it. We talked at length about all the different doctors he went through before he found the right one. With all of the headaches he went through, it would have been easy to just decide, “I must be wrong”. But he wasn’t wrong, and 13 years after his surgery that was about a year and a half later than it could have been, he is alive and kicking. We talked a bit about how our lives have changed, about his radiation treatment after surgery and my hormone therapy after surgery. We talked about the frustration of incontinence, our highs and lows with that on top of everything else.
I told him about ZeroCancer.org and how they have what they call Zero’s Heroes and that he is truly a Hero, not only to them, but also to me. It was truly a privilege and honor to meet him.
During all of this, at some point, we went through formal (sort of) introductions and I learned they are all three named Bill. Each has a different middle name so not junior/senior stuff. Granddad is a Bill, but I don’t know what he goes by, his son is Bill and his son is Billy. Billy has a son, also named Bill, who wasn’t there. Got it? A bit confusing, but a still a cool tradition. I had them sorted out as simply Granddad, Dad and Grandson. Worked for me!
Anyway, I got the feeling the dad was not very interested in being tested, but I don’t recall having a serious confrontation about it. I know I talked about the elevated risk he has due to his dad having it, since it’s often passed down from generation to generation. Later in the morning as we were all getting packed up, first Billy and then his dad came over to thank me for sharing my story. Billy told me he thought his dad might be coming around to getting tested. I could not be happier! They drove off a little while later and soon after, off I went too.
And that’s the end of our story…or is it? I got a message from zerocancer.org that Billy posted a message on their Facebook page about our encounter, saying thank you and letting them know how much he appreciated my sharing my story. I heard a few days later from another family member that the dad had actually agreed to start being tested. That is the greatest gift anybody could give me and the whole purpose of this trip!