Patient Profile: Prostate Cancer Survivor Harry Hardwick
It’s the word Harry Hardwick uses to describe his life. His zeal and enthusiasm for life are contagious and, at the age of 93, it’s not hard to see why. You wouldn’t know he was diagnosed with prostate cancer six years ago.
Harry moved with his late wife, Frankie, to Jonesboro in 1974. He managed the dryer division at Riceland Foods until 1993 when he retired.
Now, Harry starts each day with a smile, meeting his friends at McDonalds for some good coffee and great conversation. From there, he heads back home to prepare for his next adventure of the day – a good workout. Every Tuesday and Thursday, you can find him doing water aerobics at St. Bernards Health & Wellness, and on alternating days – at least twice a week – he heads to The Mall at Turtle Creek to walk a mile.
Harry is a loyal member of First United Methodist Church, where he enjoys the Wednesday night and Sunday services, as well as a Supper Club with friends. He also travels regularly to visit his two children, five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, who are spread across the United States.
He’s busy, he’s happy and he’s healthy.
On a sunny day in 2013, Harry answered the phone and heard the words so many fear hearing: “You’ve got cancer.”
Harry recalls feeling instant dread.
“When you hear the phrase ‘You’ve got cancer,’ you immediately think of the future and what that will look like for you,” he says. “I was scared at first, of course. But at my age, you also think about the friends you have who have gone before you and that helped me feel better about the situation.”
Harry was diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer and his prognosis was good. Dr. Mazen Khalil, hematologist/oncologist at the St. Bernards Cancer Center, prescribed anti-androgen treatment, which prevents androgens from reaching cancer cells, thus slowing down cancer. It may also shrink existing tumors.
“Mr. Hardwick’s treatment consists of anti-androgen medication, which has worked really well for him,” says Dr. Khalil. “Prostate cancer is dependent on testosterone and suppressing the testosterone has shown to be a very effective way to treat the cancer without subjecting the patient to the toxicities of chemotherapy. Different patients with the same diagnosis could be treated differently based on their age, co-morbidities and performance status. This treatment has allowed Mr. Hardwick to keep his functional status and continue to be independent in his daily living.”
Harry’s cancer was found early because he received regular tests of his prostate-specific antigen, also known as PSA. This screening, regularly offered and recommended for men over the age of 50, can catch prostate cancer in its earliest stages, which is incredibly beneficial for patients.
“I have always gotten regular check-ups through my physicians and the PSA test was always a part of the bloodwork they did,” Harry says. “I didn’t think much of it until I got the cancer call. Now I get regular tests of my PSA and I keep a log of the levels.”
Harry’s advice to people in similar situations is to remain positive.
“I try to just put cancer out of my mind,” he says. “My advice is to keep a good attitude. I know that isn’t always easy, but I find something to laugh at every single day.”
Dr. Khalil sees Harry’s attitude as an inspiration to others.
“It is always a pleasure to see Mr. Hardwick doing well and not letting his cancer affect his life or limit his activity,” he says. “He continues to be active in the best possible way. His ability and determination to overcome and fight the cancer is inspirational.”
Harry’s positive attitude allows him to see every day as a gift.
“I have been blessed so much in my life,” he says. “And I thank the lord every day for it.”
Originally published in the Sept. 2019 issue of Premiere Magazine