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Meet Bill

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With a new month upon us, it's time to introduce you to another member of our community. This month we'd like to introduce you to Bill, better known on our community as Little Deer Bill. Here is a bit about Bill, in his own words-

"My name is Bill Martin. I am a 71 year old prostate cancer survivor living in the bush on the shore of Lake Winnipeg with my sweetheart and wife Sharon. I was told in 2005 that my PSA (prostate specific antigen) score had doubled since my last annual physical check-up. Eventually I was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer in 2006 and after much deliberation and angst, I decided to have my prostate removed. This was a good decision. We now have eight beautiful grandchildren that I am alive to enjoy. If my doctor had not ordered this test, I would likely not be alive today. I strongly support the stance of the Canadian Cancer Society that the PSA test must, until something better is devised, continue to be available.
Following surgery in 2006, I became completely impotent and incontinent. In 2008, to my alarm, my PSA score doubled and then, thankfully, returned to 'negligible' three months later. In 2008 I had surgery to install a penile implant, and in 2012 more surgery to install a male sling to address my incontinence.
My journey has been both an emotional and a spiritual one, full of fear, self-pity, sadness, anger, denial and finally acceptance, peace and joy.
Over the years, I wrote, often daily, in a journal. After a while, I found that my entries were mostly poetry. Poetry somehow helped me to write down exactly what I was experiencing in a way that prose could not, for me, allow. Eventually, I began sharing my journal with others and I was encouraged to publish, in 2014, what became a book -  Ripped Out: One Man's Journey Surviving Prostate Cancer.  The book is a combination of prose, poetry and photos. 
Keeping the journal - writing down whatever came into my mind - even if it was only to write out my grief, my questions, my feelings - sometimes in only a few words - was immensely helpful. It does not feel like an exaggeration to say that writing saved my life.
Men do not readily share our feelings. And we particularly do not talk about whether or not we are able to have an erection or if we are incontinent.  And because of this, men often suffer in silence, and with us, so do our partners. It is my hope that my book will make it easier for men and their partners to talk about the impact of prostate cancer - when they are making treatment decisions, and after treatment, when they are coping with their changed lives.
I am a Peer Support volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society which I thought would be more involving than it is - perhaps this is because men do not reach out, do not ask for help, do not talk about their deepest emotions about prostate cancer.
Much of my learning on this journey was how to recognize and express my emotions and how to access my spirit - my soul. December is often a stressful time for everyone, with high expectations that may or may not be met. Some strategies that I employ are to be physically active, to be positive about myself, to reach out to friends and family, to be grateful for my life.
Participating in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay For Life in 2012 changed my life. Walking with other cancer survivors under the banners of Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back finally enabled me to accept that I was forever changed; I would never be the man I was before, and for the first time since my diagnosis in 2005, I was able to cry in my wife's arms and to let go.  I found such comfort being together with other cancer survivors. I continue to be involved with Relay for Life and I am a strong supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society.  I am impressed with the range of supports and services that they make available to Canadians in rural as well as urban areas." 

Here is one of Bill's poems that he chose to share with us, for more information on the book Bill has written or to read more of his poetry, please send him a private message. 


As Bill mentioned, December is a month that many people struggle with since it can be quite stressful. Please join in on our discussion Let's discuss the holidays, where members are discussing things they are looking forward to this holiday season. 


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