I write to explain my anticipated absence from many campus events over the next six weeks. I normally do not share details of my personal health but feel it best to be candid at this point. I have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer that is quite advanced. My doctors recommend immediate surgery as the best course of action. While the procedure gives the best chance for a complete recovery, it will require an extended time to recuperate. I still have a number of tests but will likely have the surgery in early to mid-April. I should be able to keep most of my regular appointments before then. After the surgery, I anticipate being able to work and oversee campus issues but may need to limit my calendared meetings and attendance at certain events. If all goes according to plan, I will have a regular schedule in early to mid-May and will be able to preside over commencement. During times that I am unavailable, Michael Parrish, as Senior Vice President, will serve as administrator in charge.

I also want to take this time to remind all men of the importance of regular PSA tests. Normally, prostate cancer is viewed as the “good cancer” because it is slow growing and “watchful waiting” is often the initial treatment option. However, this is not always the case. Cancer is the number 2 killer of men (behind cardiac problems) and prostate cancer is the number 2 cancer killer, behind lung cancer. I am on an advocacy mission to correct the terminology – there is nothing good about it! In my case, because of family history, I have had PSA tests for a long time. Recently my numbers rose quickly but were still in the “watchful waiting” range. It took an especially vigilant diagnostician to review my history and other indicators and to order a biopsy when “watchful waiting” was indicated by the PSA values alone. In my case, waiting could have had severe consequences.

Please, if you are not already doing so, discuss with your physician the best time to start monitoring and do not skip a test!

I apologize for being so detailed with my personal health but I felt it best to keep you informed and I hope that my story will stress the importance of yearly health checkups for everyone. I look forward to being back on campus fit and healthy before the end of the semester.