Generation Zero

HEALTH | FITNESS
2017
July/August

We are all fighting a battle; whether it is seen or unseen; a battle from the past or one to preserve the future. We fight for others, and amidst the war, sometimes, we find that the very thing we are fighting, has become a reality of our own. This reality is the story of Dr. Jim McAndrew, but it does not begin nor end with him. Dr. McAndrew has faced prostate cancer head on, and according to reports and follow-up tests, he is now four months out of surgery and cancer free. Before this, Jim’s father and grandfather battled prostate cancer and also won. However, that was only the beginning of his story. 

Dr. McAndrew, a urologist at Urology Tyler, PA in Tyler, and his wife, Cynthia, began the Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk in 2015, before his diagnosis. The goal was simply to raise awareness about prostate cancer: a subject that “tends to be things men don’t talk about much.”

Dr. McAndrew wanted to use the experience from his career and what he saw his dad go through, to turn people's attention to a serious matter. “Even before my diagnosis, I had a platform to advocate for men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. They would ask me, what would you do if you had my diagnosis? In the past I could say, well, let me tell you what I told my dad to do. Now I can say, well, let me tell you what I did. Being part of the club that no one wants to join gives me credibility, to advocate for men, that was not possible before.” In the beginning, the McAndrews saw the race as an opportunity to shed light on the need for prostate cancer screenings, compounded with the mounting evidence that “more than 12,550 men in Texas will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year,” as stated by ZEROCANCER.ORG. “Awareness is the key to early diagnosis and good treatment results. My recent diagnosis of prostate cancer made the need to promote awareness even more personal,” said Dr. McAndrew. 

The American Urology Association panel has advised that they do not recommend prostate screening in men under the age of 40 and recommends against routine screening for men ages 40 to 54. As for Dr. Jim McAndrew’s thoughts on the topic, “I personally think this is too restrictive.” His grandfather’s diagnosis came at the age of 83, his father at the age of 71, and his at the age of 55: “As you can see from the ages- this trend is going the wrong way!” He continues, “There is also mounting evidence that a first PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen test) at age 40 may predict the development of future, potentially lethal prostate cancer. If your PSA is greater than 1.0 at age 40, you are at a higher risk for lethal prostate cancer ... my PSA at age 40 was 1.1.” The goal of the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk is to “create Generation ZERO - the first generation of men free of prostate cancer.” What needs to be done to see that this generation comes to fruition? “I recommend men get a baseline PSA at age 40, then (if everything is fine with the first PSA) yearly starting at age 50. I also recommend men continue to get PSA tests as long as they are healthy enough to want to consider treatment. There are a lot of very healthy and active men in their 70’s and older! While these recommendations from prestigious organizations make sense for populations of people, it is more beneficial for an INDIVIDUAL man to have more information about his medical conditions. Knowing your PSA of several years is even more helpful,” suggests Dr. McAndrew. 

There is another bump in the road, a seemingly small hurdle, but a hiccup nonetheless: getting men to go to the doctor! “Women tend to be very good at going to the doctor to get checked. Men are not. Almost all women have men in their lives (father, husband, son, brother), and all us men could use a little encouragement to see a doctor,” said Dr. McAndrew. Cynthia McAndrew told me that her husband goes to the doctor every year for her birthday present. “My wife wants to keep me around for a while, so I committed to going to my internist  once a year near her birthday as part of her birthday present. I think it is one of her favorite presents - because it is like telling her I want to be healthy and be with you for a long time,” shares Dr. McAndrew.

Dr. Jim McAndrew credits his unfailing faith in his journey and recovery. As a first generation “believer in Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” he has said, “This alone raises my expectations that God plans to use my diagnosis for something great.” He explains how he became a believer. “I grew up in a science based world. My father was a Chemical Engineer, and the worldview/philosophy of our family was that everything had a scientific explanation. My favorite subjects in school were math and science.” The verse in the Bible that has brought comfort to him is John 11:4. Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Dr. McAndrew shares his faith and testimony on his Urology Associate, P.A. online biography: “In the late 1970’s there was a TV show called In Search of … narrated by Leonard Nimoy (AKA Dr. Spock). Not someone whom I would call a great TV evangelist! One episode of the show was In Search of Noah’s Ark. I always looked forward to that show, and I knew in my heart that the ending would be clear. Science would prove the Bible to be false; the story was just a fable, didn’t happen, couldn’t have happened. But to my surprise, the conclusion was just the opposite. After careful research and scientific study it was determined that it was possible, and even probable, the story was true and could have happened exactly as described in the Bible. Through the godly example of my wife, Cynthia, Sunday school and Bible study, I began to understand the role of Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior, and protector in my life. His calling me through the use of a secular TV show, my turning to accept him, His putting a hedge of protection around my life until the time was right, and bringing Cynthia into my life are all true miracles,” says Dr. McAndrew.

With early PSA screening, faith, and awareness, Dr. McAndrew believes we can help build Generation ZERO. The ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk this September “rallies communities and gives participants a voice in the fight to end prostate cancer,” Jamie Bearse, CEO of ZERO, has said. The ZERO Run/Walk is a time to show your support for loved ones who fight the battle against prostate cancer. This race has become a way for the McAndrews, and so many more sharing in the battle, to fight prostate cancer and pave the way for a new generation of men to become prostate cancer free.  Just as Generation ZERO is a work in progress, Dr. McAndrew can relate, “I'm truly a work in progress. I make large, deep cuts on people. Even if we use "permanent suture" to sew things back together, if it weren't for God's healing power, nothing would heal. We just get things lined up and close. He does the rest!” So, with these tools in hand, the McAndrews' fight to win the war against prostate cancer and preserve the future. Join the race and help others fight. To learn more, visit www.zeroprostatecancerrun.org/tyler.

Photo Courtesy of: Zero Cancer

 

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