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Keep checking


It’s often been said that fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all.

Danette Dooley/Special to The Advertiser
Keith Andrews, a prostate cancer survivor, encourages men to get checked for signs of the cancer that affected him.

Keith Andrews of Bishop’s Falls fully agrees with that statement.

Andrews was diagnosed with prostate cancer almost two years ago.

“If I had to go through it again, there wouldn’t be any problems but the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen, that’s the worst thing,” the 64-year-old said.

After surgery to remove the cancer, Andrews underwent 33 radiation treatments at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Centre, which meant a six-week stay in St. John’s.

During his time away from home Andrews stayed at Daffodil Place. The 24-room facility in St. John’s is operated by the Canadian Cancer Society–Newfoundland and Labrador Division. It’s available to cancer patients and caregivers who must travel to the province’s capital city to receive their cancer treatments.

Guests of Daffodil Place are charged a nightly fee of $25 for one person and $10

per person thereafter. The fee includes accommodations, three hot meals a day, free transportation to and from medical appointments as well as access to numerous other programs and services.

According to Andrews there is no better place to stay than Daffodil Place. He loved interacting with the staff and volunteers as well as those staying at the facility.

He also shared his love of music with them by singing and playing his guitar.

“I had a wonderful time at Daffodil House. The people that I met there and the people that run Daffodil House, they’re the best in the world,” he said.

Andrews also has kind words for the staff at Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre, as well as those at the cancer centre.

“You wouldn’t believe how nice the people at the cancer centre were. And Dr. (David) Sutherland in Grand Falls, you couldn’t beat him. He treated me with gold and told me what was what.”

When it comes to the support he has had from family, friends and the community, Andrews said he’s a fortunate man.

“The Pentecostal Church in Bishop’s Falls — Pastor Barry Pelley and his wife — they had a birthday party for me and raised money for me to go to St. John’s. And my brother took me back and forth on the weekends that I could get home,” he said.

Andrews said his spirituality helped him a great deal get through his cancer journey.

“People can’t do anything for you but the Lord our God will get you through everything, even the unknown part of it. Prayer really works,” he said.

Andrews is a member of the church’s singing group. The Bishop’s Falls Fellowship Group hosts a non-denominational sing-along every Friday night at the Pentecostal Church.

Andrews said while in St. John’s he even spent time with his MHA during a ceremony at Government House. Andrews was asked by staff at Daffodil Place to speak at the event.

“Clayton Forsey (mha for Exploits District) took me down to Government House. The speaker stood up and called my name. I shook hands with (premier) Paul Davis. And they took me down to meet the Mayor (City of St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe). I got to shake hands with him, too, and to say hello.”

Keith and Margaret Andrews have two daughters. Both daughters live in Alberta.

Margaret Andrews is a home care worker. She said knowing her husband was well taken care of at Daffodil Place made staying at home while continuing to work that much easier.

“I wanted to go out (to St. John’s) with him but I had to work. But he had a lot of friends out there and a nephew who was good to him. And that made it a lot easier for me.”

About prostate cancer

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. It’s an important time to reflect on the disease that affects one in eight Canadian men in their lifetime.

The Canadian Cancer Society describes on its website (www.cancer.ca) that prostate cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in cells of the prostate.

Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers).

While it is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men in Canada, prostate cancer grows slowly and can often be completely removed or managed successfully.

Andrews is now enjoying good health. He encourages men to have their prostate checked for signs of prostate cancer.

“You can catch it before it spreads. That’s the beauty of it,” he said.

 

danette@nl.rogers.com

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