From a Grateful Patient
Taking Nothing for Granted: Grateful Patient Steve Peters
Steve Peters of Beavercreek, Ohio, takes nothing for granted — not the time he spends with his wife, Wendy, and their three adult sons, Stanley, Sean and Christian; not the babysitting gigs for his young grandson, Jace; not the teaching he does for Antioch University following retirement from his career as an engineer and aviator.
That’s because the integrated, compassionate care he has received for prostate cancer at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) for the past seven years has helped to give him a new perspective on life with cancer.
“After I got my diagnosis, the first reaction was ‘This is it,’” says Peters, echoing the sentiments many feel upon hearing the words, “You have cancer.”
“But since that time, I’ve had many life events occur that have been so meaningful to me — events I didn’t know if I would be here to see.” Peters performed the wedding ceremonies for sons Stanley and Christian. He became a grandfather for the first time, thanks to his son, Sean. And when Christian graduated from Wright State University and followed his father’s footsteps to become an Air Force officer, Peters was able to swear him in as a lieutenant.
“I owe a lot of those experiences to my treatment at The James,” says Peters. “The James has helped me be there for my family.”
A Nonroutine Treatment Experience at OSUCCC – James
Peters was diagnosed with an advanced, aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2010 — the severity of which may have been prevented had his family physician noticed some red flags on his PSA tests in the years prior. When his urologist called Peters’ cell phone and all-too-casually dropped the news that he had cancer, Peters’ wife, Wendy, suggested they go to the place where cancer isn’t treated as a routine illness: The James.
Under the care of his treatment team, Peters took part in a clinical trial in which he received chemo and hormone therapy followed by a radical prostatectomy performed by one of the nation’s leading robotic surgeons. His primary oncologist, Steven Clinton, MD, PhD, referred Peters to a trusted radiation oncologist in the Dayton area so he could stay close to home for daily radiation treatments.
When the prostate cancer metastasized to his spine, resulting in a compression fracture, a team representing neurosurgery, radiation oncology and medical oncology quickly came together to assess his situation and recommend treatment. The result was an integrated approach that has adapted as his cancer has become hormone resistant.
“That all these specialties were part of the discussion to make treatment recommendations, that’s phenomenal to me. And when they decided what I needed, they scheduled all my appointments. It was all taken care of. I didn’t have to navigate the system on my own.”
Gratitude Spurs Reciprocity
A firm believer in reciprocity — the concept that when a gift is received, one has the responsibility to give back — Peters now advocates and helps raise funds for the OSUCCC – James.
He participated in Pelotonia the past two years, first by sponsoring a rider through the “I Ride for You” program, which paired Peters with an Ohio State student who rode on his behalf. Then last year, he trained and completed the 25-mile ride himself. “It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had — not only the people riding, but the people out there supporting it. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
He is also a member of the James Ambassadors Society, a volunteer group of advocates who raise awareness for life-saving research and treatments at the OSUCCC – James. He recently spoke at the Dayton Ambassadors Celebration in May, telling the room full of survivors, their families and advocates that a cancer patient’s decision regarding their diagnosis and treatment is “perhaps the most difficult decision one will ever have to make” — a decision that no one has a right to judge or second guess. “For me,” shared Peters, “I have found The James to be the right answer in every way.”
Peters tells his story in the hopes of helping others, even though he acknowledges it sometimes makes people uncomfortable. “People say, ‘I don’t know what I would do if that happened to me.’ But you have no choice,” says Peters. “You’d be surprised what you can deal with when you have to.”
The key, he says, is to understand how important a community of support is to living with this disease. In the case of Peters, “That community begins with my wife, Wendy, and my sons and their families, and certainly includes my family at The James.”