From stage four prostate cancer to Ironman: Steve’s journey to recovery
At only 41 years old, Steve Cooper, an 18-year military veteran and successful businessman, received a devastating diagnosis: stage four prostate cancer. To combat the rapidly spreading disease, Steve underwent a prostatectomy—an operation to remove part of the prostate gland—and received radiation and chemotherapy. The aggressive treatment proved successful, but the side effects were severe: urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction (ED) – both of which made a significant impact on Steve’s quality of life.
Globally, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, and more than 375,000 will die from the condition this year alone.[i] In the US, roughly one in every eight men will receive a positive diagnosis during their lifetime.[ii]
After talking to his doctor, Steve chose to receive the AMS 800™ Artificial Urinary Sphincter to address his post-treatment side effects. In recognition of Men’s Health Month, Steve is sharing his story to help men with similar experiences consider their options.
Can you share a little about your prostate cancer treatment and what you experienced afterward?
The prostatectomy went well, and I experienced minimal side effects. After the surgery, I started with radiation and chemotherapy. I knew the treatment would be challenging, but I stayed active, which helped keep my mind off everything I was going through. I actually competed in an Ironman competition during radiation and also during chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last. Within nine months, the incontinence was unbearable, and I had to wear adult diapers. Even though I wanted to stay active, I didn’t want to change my clothes in a locker room. I was also single at the time, but with my symptoms, I didn’t want to date. My whole life felt like it was falling apart. I was ready to give up, feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore. I knew I had to do something and regain control of my life.
Can you tell us about your experience receiving the AMS 800 Artificial Urinary Sphincter?
Once I got to a point where my cancer was under control, I focused on managing the side effects and spoke with my doctor about my options, ultimately deciding to receive the implant.
After the procedure, it was like a switch had flipped. At this point, I had been wearing adult diapers for years, so leaving my doctor’s office wearing normal underwear was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Of course, it’s hard for people to understand if they haven’t experienced it themselves, but wearing underwear, resuming daily life, going out with friends, and not worrying about leaking – it restored my confidence, and I started to feel like myself again.
The day I married my wife was the best day of my life, but the day I received my implant is a close second!
What advice do you have for other men who may be experiencing similar symptoms or who may be considering an implant?
Don’t hesitate. I absolutely should have gotten the implant earlier. I was scared to have the procedure and even more worried about how I would feel if it didn’t work. Knowing what I know now, I never would have waited.
The procedure was straightforward with minimal pain afterwards, and the recovery is nowhere near as bad as it may seem. The implant is also invisible to the human eye, which is a concern for some men when considering implant options. But most of all, the procedure works. I was able to go from nearly giving up hope to fully regaining my life – I’m even running a half Ironman in Egypt this year.
Lastly, I encourage all men to regularly get screened for prostate cancer, even at a younger age. I was only 41 when I received my stage four diagnosis. Had I been more proactive about my health, I could have saved myself a lot of pain and suffering.
- For safety information about the AMS 800 Artificial Urinary Sphincter, please visit here.
- Results from case studies are not necessarily predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary.