Prostate cancer survivor from Woodbury gets 'a whole new lease on life'
It’ll be five years ago this month that Woodbury resident Chris Meyer heard some news that would change his outlook on life for the better.
He had prostate cancer.
“As crazy as it sounds, it was kind of a gift to have that,” he said. “I’ve been living life a little bit different since then.
“Before I was a typical 40-year-old guy working myself hard, spending probably too many hours at work, and now I try to enjoy the moment.”
Meyer celebrated living in the moment last weekend when he participated in a 5K run/walk on Saturday, Sept. 19, in Minneapolis through ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer, a nonprofit organization.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
“I can spread the word,” Meyer said.
A chance diagnosis
Meyer received in prostate cancer diagnosis in 2010 at the age of 40 following a chance appointment.
“I had actually gone in for something not even related,” he said.
Following an appointment for a rash, Meyer’s doctor suggested a follow-up appointment because it has been a while since his last physical.
During the physical, the doctor decided to test Meyer’s prostate.
“He came in and told me, ‘The bad news is I check all of my 40 years old prostate, the good news is it’s not a big deal,’” he said. “Most doctors don’t check that, I feel really lucky there.”
After noticing something, Meyer underwent some more tests and ultimately went to Metro Urology in Minneapolis for a biopsy.
“It came back as pretty aggressive prostate cancer,”Meyer said. “That kind of caught me off guard, especially at the age of 40.”
Meyer decided to go for a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic where doctors gave him only two years to live, because Meyer had some spots on his ribs so doctors thought that the cancer had spread to his ribs.
Doctors put Meyer on a hormone treatment.
“Doctors said that will usually keep it at bay for three years maybe,” he said, “and then I said, ‘Well what happens then? So, I’m just gone?’”
Meyer said he became devastated following his diagnosis because he is married with three children.
“It’s pretty devastating, you start thinking about not seeing these little guys grow up,” he said, “and of course I’m on this hormone therapy so my emotions are all over the place.”
As a way to be completely sure that the cancer had spread, doctors decided to biopsy Meyer’s ribs.
“That was an interesting experience because it’s such a tough area to get to,” Meyer said.
The biopsy came back negative. The lymph nodes came back negative. The cancer hadn’t spread.
“So it was a whole new lease on life,” Meyer said.
Meyer went through surgery to remove his prostate cancer.
“Things were looking good and that was five years ago,” he said, “and that’s sort of the magic number.”
Spreading the word
Last weekend marked Meyer’s fourth time participating in the ZERO walk, which took place around Lake Nokomis.
“After going through that emotional roller coaster, I felt that I had to do something,” he said. “I felt I needed to get the word out.”
Meyer’s team, the Cracked Walnuts, is comprised of about 10 people.
The team has raised $15,000 to $20,000 during the past four years.
In addition to the walk, Meyer frequently lobbies at the State Capitol for prostate cancer research, mainly as a way to spread awareness about the disease.
“It’s sort of where breast cancer was 10 years ago,” he said. “I’m trying to get people aware and backing to keep that moving forward.”
The key, Meyer said, is convincing more men to be proactive and start talking about it.
“You think it’s an old man’s disease, but it’s not,” he said. “Guys don’t like talking about this stuff.”
In the end, Meyer said he actually feels fortunate for his whole ordeal.
“If I had not gone into the doctor accidentally, if I had not accidentally gotten that doctor, I probably wouldn’t be here,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it takes something like that to smack you upside the head to reevaluate what’s important.”
Chris Meyer’s fundraising page for the ZERO 5K run/walk is zerocancer.org/challenge/run. Under the Support tab, select Team Search and type in “The Cracked Walnuts.”