By Nancy Gay
As the salty air filled his lungs and the cool water of the Atlantic washed over his body, Mike DeWitt felt his mind start to settle with the rhythmic ebb and flow of the ocean. In this moment he only had to focus on one thing; scanning the horizon that would bring the perfect wave to lift his surfboard and carry him to the beach. He needed to be miles away from that sterile doctor’s office where he was given the news that he, like his wife who passed away several years earlier, had cancer.
DeWitt was diligent about getting his annual prostate screening. He typically had the screening done by the same person at the Moffitt Team Member Clinic, who knew that he had a family history of prostate cancer. In his latest screening, DeWitt learned that his Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, level was a three, up one point from the year before. Typically, most clinicians don’t worry until the PSA level reaches a five, but because DeWitt’s father had prostate cancer and the nurse was familiar with his medical history, she recommended that he follow up with a specialist. That follow up confirmed his worst fears — he had prostate cancer.
Despite a family history of prostate cancer, DeWitt was shocked because he didn’t have any symptoms. He spent the next four days surfing and meditating. Then he returned to Tampa to “take care of business,” which consisted of High Dose Radiation (HDR) and External Beam Radiation Therapy.
DeWitt says he feels lucky to have had regular screenings at Moffitt by a clinician who took the time to get to know him and his background. He encourages everyone to have regular screenings and explains, “I had a disease that could have taken my life, and it was through surveillance and screening that it was arrested at the site.” DeWitt says while some might find the screenings to be inconvenient and uncomfortable, “You can rest assured that it pales in comparison to cancer treatment.”
DeWitt finished up his treatment for prostate cancer in the spring of 2018 and is currently working on a book about prostate cancer screening, prevention and treatment titled, “For regular guys like me.”