Bil’s Story: A Life-Altering Diagnosis

Diagnosed with prostate cancer, Bil Vincent found support at Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center
After his prostate cancer diagnosis, Bil Vincent found support at Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center

Oct. 1, 2021, was a life-altering day for me.

In February of that year, my PSA was suddenly out of the normal range. Elevated levels of this protein produced by the prostate may indicate cancer — or several other conditions. My doctor thought it might be an infection and put me on antibiotics, saying we’d check again in six months. 

Six months later, it was even higher. I was scheduled with a urologist who felt a suspicious lump on my prostate and suspected prostate cancer. I had no other signs or symptoms. I immediately began to research prostate cancer, treatments and survival odds.

On Sept. 27, I underwent a 14-needle biopsy. That Friday, Oct. 1, at 9:27 a.m., I received the call: “Mr. Vincent, you have high-risk aggressive prostate cancer, and I recommend starting treatment soon.” Everything was a blur after that. After the biopsy and diagnosis, the reality hit hard. I had to make quick decisions amid fear and uncertainty. The psychological toll was overwhelming.

Dealing with fear and side effects

In panic, I needed help dealing with the fear of my treatment options. By fate, I found a therapist who volunteered with Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center, a not-for-profit that provides services and support to anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis at no cost to participants. For the first three sessions, he mostly listened to me cry. 

After weighing all the pros and cons, I finally decided on a treatment plan: 28 rounds of radiation, Monday to Friday, accompanied by 24 months of quarterly androgen deprivation therapy injections to eliminate my testosterone. 

Since that first office visit three years ago, I have been to a clinic 247 times for numerous tests and treatments. Earlier this year, I noticed a lump in my right breast, and several mammograms later, it was determined I had gynecomastia, likely a side effect of the hormone therapy. This resulted in having a partial mastectomy a few months ago.

My cancer journey has not been easy. During treatment, I was overwhelmed by side effects. Every day felt like, “What is next?” One of my awesome nurses suggested I attend a meditation session at Waterford Place to reduce stress. The therapist I saw recommended attending a monthly men’s cancer support group at Waterford Place. For the last two years, I have attended this group, which has become my cancer support family. Through Waterford Place, I received services such as therapy, acupuncture, facials, massage and sound therapy.

Healing and giving back

As I began to heal, I was inspired to give back. Waterford Place partners with an organization called Imerman Angels, which connects cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers to mentor angels. Through Imerman, I became a cancer support mentor angel and now have a mentee in California who has become a dear friend. It’s been rewarding to lift up someone else on the same journey I took, all thanks to Waterford Place.

Another great organization Waterford Place works with is Man Up to Cancer, dedicated to helping men navigate cancer and avoid isolation. The depression and isolation with a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. I joined an amazing group of men supporting each other, again, because of Waterford Place.

As a result of my experiences, I became a volunteer at Rush Copley Medical Center and a major brand ambassador for Waterford Place. I constantly direct cancer patients I meet to Waterford Place.

One in seven men will get prostate cancer. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting your PSA tested. An elevated PSA is not a definite indicator of cancer, but regular testing to watch the trend is crucial. Catching it early greatly increases your odds of survival. Do it for your loved ones.

Maintaining a positive outlook

Since my diagnosis, my husband and friends have been pillars of strength. Steve told me from day one, “Let’s just get through today, then we will work on getting through tomorrow.” That’s what we do every day. Waterford Place has been a place of refuge in helping me maintain my body and a positive outlook.

Now, as a survivor with currently no evidence of disease, I continue to fight. I need to stay no evidence of disease for five years to be considered in remission. When I was first diagnosed, they told me I had a 70% chance of the cancer returning. I told them, “I plan to be in the 30% category.”

Even though my journey is not over yet, no matter what happens, I have Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center.


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