Bill Baun: Dancing in the Rain

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Topics include: Patient Stories

How do you cope with stage IV prostate cancer? What if your spouse and care partner has cancer, too?  Wellness expert, patient advocate and advanced prostate cancer survivor Bill Baun shares a piece of his story,  “Every day I get to get up and I get to make that choice about how I’m gonna dance with that rain, and I work hard at that….Make a choice to live life every day.”  

Sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network through an educational grant from Sanofi and an independent educational grant from Astellas and Medivation, Inc. Produced in association with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.   

Bill Baun:

Yeah, you know, my granddad and my dad both died of prostate cancer, so I watched it very closely.  But eight years ago, I was diagnosed—it wasn’t a surprise. But in a way, it was a surprise, because it was a lot earlier than my dad had gotten diagnosed.  So when I was diagnosed, I was already a stage III, and then three years ago, I actually moved to stage IV, which is something I expected. But again, you’re always hopeful that it doesn’t happen as soon as it does.

You know, I was watching the PSA—wasn’t so much having symptoms, as just watching that PSA climb.  So we watched it go from at 3-1, and then nine months later it went to a 14.

We all remember that diagnosis day.  My wife was sitting next to me, the doctor walked in, I thought, “This doesn’t look good,” and he sat there for what felt like an eternity.  And then he said, “Mr. Baun, Mrs. Baun,” he said, “I don’t know how to say this.  I’ll just say it.  You’ve got very aggressive prostate cancer.”  My wife started crying.  I couldn’t tell you what else was said after that, because finally when the doctor left, I got up, I got her up, I about carried her to the car, I got her home, I put her in bed, I laid her down—it was a tough day. 

I did a walk, which is what I do normally when I’m kinda highly stressed.  I cried my eyes out for the first lap, and the second lap it was one of those, “Oh, God, why me?” kind of things.  And then my third and fourth lap, I realized—both my parents dying of cancer—that I knew what to do.  And I kinda ran home, I woke my wife up, I gave her the biggest hug I’d given her probably in my life and said, “We can do this.”  And from then on, we’ve been trying to do it the best we can.

I had surgery, I had radiation.  I’ve been on, of course, hormone therapy, like all of us in this thing, for really eight years.  And I’ve gone through multiple drugs, and I’m on a clinical study now.  I’ve gone through one drug.  Next week, they’ll look at me again.  It looks like this drug’s not working really the way we wished it would, so I’ll probably transfer over to another chemo—another oral chemo—this next week. 

But you know, I’ve—my kind of philosophy behind this is I try to keep my body in that place where those drugs can do the best work that they can do, and that means I try to take care of myself.  That’s my role.  If these things are—if I’m gonna heal, if I have an opportunity to kinda keep this going, then I work really hard at trying to keep myself “well.”

You know, I’ve gone through a lot of things in life.  I broke my back when I was 27, was in the hospital for six months with a broken back, and then a full body cast for six months.  You know, I’m a Vietnam vet.  So I’ve seen a lot of life, and this is another piece of life where it’s maybe flooding a little more, raining a little harder than we wished it was, but you know what?  Every day I get to get up and I get to make that choice about how I’m gonna dance with that rain, and I work hard at that. 

My dad and mom, who again, both died of cancer—my mother died when she was 51, and I watched her for 15 years work really hard at making life work and enjoy it.  I really believe that happiness, purpose, meaning, faith is really important, so I try to take those four things, kind of a four-legged stool, and I try to make the best day that I can have every day out of that.  And I think that that’s what we’re here to do, and so I work hard at that.  So learning to dance in the rain, no matter what that is. 

And it’s harder some days than other days.  My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, so the journey’s gotten a little harder for both of us.  But you know what?  It’s what the journey is.  You make the best of what you got with what you got and what you have.  So I work at that.

My advice with other men that have cancer is one, take care of your caregiver.  I know that sometimes that’s really hard for us to see, because we’ve got cancer. But your caregiver needs just as much love and just as much care as you do.  It’s a dance we do together.  My hope is that you have a caregiver that you can do that dance with.  And then the second part of it is take care of yourself so that you can make a choice every day to live. 

I can’t tell you the number of people that I coach—prostate cancer men that I coach—that are in the same place I’m at, that in a sense of giving up on life.  And that’s not what this is about.  Yeah, it’s a different life.  It’s not the life we would have chosen, but you know what?  We still got a choice.  You still maybe have grandkids.  Maybe you have kids.  Maybe you’ve got a phenomenal job that you still have some things to do.  Maybe you’ve got a faith community.  Maybe you’ve got a neighborhood.  Maybe you’ve got a garden. 

I don’t know what it is, but I do know that life is about being—being that person that you can be. All those do things that kind of wrap around that, that’s great, but it’s really turning around and still being that person that you can be.  And yeah, that takes—that takes some gumption.  It takes some standing up and doing it, and but that’s what we’re here to do.  So I think that we just—you need to get on with it.  You need to kind of move past that place and maybe feeling sorry for yourself and just make a choice to live life every day.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on January 27, 2016