Man and his baby daughter
Jaime Stern and his daughterImage by: Jaime Stern
Man and his baby daughter
Man and his Daughter
16 June 2021

Mo Bro Jaime Stern on how prostate cancer impacted his fatherhood journey

3 minutes read time

I had a daughter, and she saved my life. Literally.

My father died of prostate cancer. It was a battle, we all fought it together. He discovered it at age 60, it was everywhere before we even knew he had it. His scan looked like a Christmas tree. He was a doctor, a great doctor, but a terrible patient. He didn’t look until it was too late. They gave him 2 years, he fought for 5. The last year it was each of us taking turns doing overnights, taking care of him through the night. It was so so hard, but I’m glad we did it. Those uncomfortable moments and final conversations were brutal, but worth it.

We knew we were all at higher risk, my brother and I especially, but stuck with the plan of checking eventually. No rush. We were young(ish), healthy. Maybe we ate too much, drank too much, but active and healthy.

A decade later. I’m living in Brazil, wrapping up 7 years outside the US working and traveling across 4 continents, and my wife is expecting. At around the 6th month, I said I’d get a physical – it had been a while, and who knew when I would have time or even think of it after our baby is born. Just in case for him or her. As an afterthought, the doc added a PSA. It came back a bit high. No worries, I am 39 years old, too young for anything serious. Let’s clear it up…

" If I didn’t check for prostate cancer, it would have been too late. "

A second PSA, a Prostate MR, a birth (it’s a girl!), a pandemic, a biopsy, a complication, sepsis, expedited green card for my wife, emergency passport for my daughter, a return to the US, and then the news that yup, it is cancer, it has evolved. Contained, but for how long? Active surveillance won’t do. I thought I had 5 years, maybe 10. But one would be pushing it, two would be a gamble.

Prostate removal was not a matter of if but when. So let’s do it. Bank the sperm, stop stressing about what the surgery will do, what the recovery will be, and get started.

The surgery suuuucked. Much harder than I thought. Much more emotional. But 6 weeks later, I am fully recovered. I have sex, I pee when I want, I have some scars.

If I didn’t check, and waited until I was back in the US, on a normal routine again, when I got around to it, it would have been too late. It would have spread, I would have been a sick person, with worse treatment options. I would have died probably.

Everyone kept telling me I was lucky to have found it. Lucky to have a chance. Lucky to have recovered so quickly. I didn’t feel lucky, still don’t. It was, it is, so so hard, but I’m glad I did it. I am alive, and here for my daughter, and maybe her sister or brother someday. I guess I’ll stick around and see what happens.