CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - If you've ever had to encourage the men in your life - fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands - to go to the doctor, then you know struggle.
June is Men’s Health Month and my Dad, Claude Mack agreed to share his story in hopes it can save someone else.
'We can be very stubborn about going to the doctor – period,” he admitted. “And if you have to be nagged into going, then you have to be nagged into going. Or, in my case - rained out.”
That’s right. A rainy day saved my Dad’s life. Anyone who knows Claude Mack, knows how much he loves to play golf. My Dad had every intention of playing in a local tournament despite a rainy start to that fateful Saturday back in the fall of 2016.
“If I had - if it had a been a sunny day that day, I would have played golf,” he said. “All day. It was raining that morning when I woke up but golfers are optimistic so we just kept saying oh it’s going to get better.”
Only it didn’t -- and a little divine intervention led my avid golfer of a father instead to our church for an annual health fair. My Dad hasn’t really talked openly about his journey until now. But he believes there’s power in sharing your story - especially when it comes to your health, something my Dad didn’t really take ownership of until that rainy day led to stage three prostate cancer diagnosis.
“And I’m thankful for that,” he said. “I’ve thought about that many times since then. And if I’ve got a testimony, that’s it. And, I’m grateful. This is something you don’t like to necessarily talk about with people. But in this context when it’s Men’s Health Month, you’re hoping that your sharing might help somebody else.”
A few days after the health fair, he got a sobering phone call. “Just a few days later I get the call that the PSA is not good,” he recalled. “In fact, they said it was worrisome. And, insisted I go and make an appointment to see a urologist.” That's where he learned his PSA level was 16 -- was alarmingly high.
“The biopsy revealed that there was a malignancy, a tumor on my prostate gland,” he said. “He said, ‘the good news is we can treat. We gotta come out firing on all cylinders. We gotta be aggressive, we gotta fight this tooth and nail but we can win.’ And I believed that.” A belief underscored by my Dad’s unwavering faith. “We talk about walking by faith all the time and not by sight - this forces you to do that if you don’t know.”
My Dad had surgery in June of 2017 to remove his prostate and then geared up for 35 rounds of radiation treatments. He relied heavily on his faith to push through the uncertainty.
"I knew I had surgery and I knew they said it was successful, but you don't know,” he admitted. “So your mind plays tricks with you. It's always between the ears. That’s the biggest battle. Pastor Jones talks about that – our biggest battle is between our ears.”
Through it all he was especially grateful our family had an advocate in my younger sister, Charmeen, a physician assistant. “She was such a support during this whole thing,” he said. “Because not only with her professional knowledge, but the fact that she's my baby girl. Couldn't have really navigated this without her. You know when Charmeen was born, she was kind of an “oops”. And we didn't know it then, but the “oops” was born to help me get through this -- among other things.”
He’s also absolute in his belief in the power of sharing your story. I asked my Dad what pushed him – he’s a pretty private guy – to open up about his cancer diagnosis and journey to know being cancer-free. He told me, “oftentimes we think that when something happens to us that it’s about us, but it could be about somebody else that needs to hear what you’ve gone through so that it helps them. It’s my hope that just one person watches this, hears this and says I need to go get my prostate check. It doesn’t have to be more than one, if it helps one person than I’m satisfied.”
Satisfied – and very grateful for that rainy day. “Gratitude is something you can’t have too much of,” he said. “And I’m grateful every day.” I also spoke with Novant Health’s Dr. Jason Boothe about three things men should know when it comes to their health. You can watch what he had to say in the video above.