It was one month before retirement in November 2004 when Mike received a call from his doctor telling him he had prostate cancer. It was found thanks to a routine PSA check and digital scan. “The world stopped spinning for a minute. It was supposed to be a happy time. My time. Now I was full of uncertainty and fear.” At only 55, he was fairly young for this diagnosis. Mike did the only thing he knew to do – research. His two choices were full removal of his prostate or seed implants with radiation.
At the time, he was working as a Replacement Parts Manager at General Electric. Mike was put in touch with a co-worker who had just returned from prostate cancer treatment in Atlanta and had opted for the seed implants. After hearing his story and conducting even more research, he had made his decision and called his doctor to let him know he was going to go the same route. He said, “I liked that they had already treated over 10,000 men with prostate cancer, and they would periodically check up on you for years afterward.”
Mike then called Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia (RCOG) to start the treatment process. He drove to a hospital in Atlanta in March of 2005, had 78 radioactive seeds implanted in his prostate, and drove home the next day to recover. He returned in June to start the radiation treatment. He said, “Everybody at RCOG called it a ‘radiation vacation.’ We all had treatment every day, but it never lasted longer than an hour. RCOG had scheduled events the rest of the day. Of course, you had to sign up, but it was a great distraction.”
With treatments every day of the week, Mike had to find somewhere to stay for seven weeks. For the first couple weeks, he stayed at a hotel but he was thrilled when his application was accepted for the Hope Lodge. He said it was a wonderful place. He had his own room with everything supplied. He just had to buy food. He said, “I even had my own shelf in the kitchenette for groceries. I don’t know what I would have done without RCOG and the Hope Lodge. The most difficult part of the entire experience was the loneliness. I missed my wife and it helped to be surrounded by guys going through the same thing.”
Mike was declared cancer-free in July of 2005, after his treatment in Atlanta. He said that he feels lucky that it was found so early. “Life can change on a dime. A phone call can change your life forever.” He did stick to his retirement decision in 2004 and enjoys fishing, golfing, reading, working in his yard, and spending time with his granddaughter who is graduating this year from high school.
Mike’s daughter is Jill Allen-Booth, a Creative Manager in the Marketing Department at Onco360. She said, “Working at Onco360 has given me a new perspective on my father’s cancer journey. To me, it just felt like he left for a couple of months, came back, and that was it. Even though it was 17 years ago, it’s something that he has carried with him. I am just so thankful for the relationship he has with my daughter and that he was there to see her grow up and go off to college this year.”