While October is a month in which we spread breast cancer awareness, we recently learned of Tom Stewart, an 84-year-old who battled another type of cancer. Exactly one year ago this Sugar Land resident was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“There was disbelief,” Stewart says of the diagnosis. “While colon cancer claimed loved ones on both sides of my family, I wasn’t aware of any with prostate cancer.” He chose MD Anderson in Sugar Land for radiation treatment and was advised by his doctors to avoid stress and worry… if possible.
Once he accepted the diagnosis as real, he turned it over to God. “He took good care of me when I was a green horn 2nd Lieutenant on the 38th parallel during the Korean War,” says Stewart. Regardless of outcome, he knew God was still in charge and would handle it.
Thankfully, Stewart’s family members are Christians and gave him total support while maintaining positive attitudes. As a deacon at Sugar Creek Baptist, he also relied on his church family for prayer and emotional support. Today he shares his experience through testimonials and in one-on-one conversations. “I always stress the need to have your PSA checked ROUTINELY by your doctor,” he adds.
Stewart’s faith never wavered, and neither did his routine. As much as possible he continued to bowl, golf, ride his bike and work out throughout his treatment. As a way to count down to survivorship, Stewart collected his coffee cups from each appointment and marked each with the number of remaining treatments from 39 down to one. He brought he whole stack to his final treatment at the end of July 2014 and was able to ring the ceremonial bell to celebrate being cancer free!
But his inspirational journey isn’t over, not by a long shot. In fact, post-cancer, Stewart shows no sign of slowing down. Last month (September) he competed once again in the 26-mile “Pineywoods Purgatory” – a premier cycling event featuring rides ranging from 25 to 102 miles. Stewart has now participated over the past 16 years with his family in the hills above Lufkin (his hometown). While it gets a little tougher each year, he believes there is nothing more important than maintaining a healthy lifestyle and continuing to challenge himself.
He attributes the success of his treatments to MD Anderson, from his oncologist Dr. Shalin Shah to his medical team to his fellow patients who became fast friends. We are so happy to report the good news of Stewart’s treatment and his journey of faith. May we all be as brave and proactive in the face of a cancer diagnosis!