HOUSTON - A man from Houston is sharing his journey with prostate cancer to help encourage other men to never ignore warning signs.
Jay Mandola first landed in the emergency room with a urinary tract infection, but doctors informed him the problem was more serious than that.
"I had stage four prostate cancer with a tumor that was growing into my rectum, and he basically said he couldn't do anything for me, he couldn't perform surgery," recalls Jay.
Jay is still frustrated that he ignored warning signs, hoping they would just go away. The diagnosis was a real shocker.
"I went to the parking lot and cried like a baby and my wife goes, 'What's wrong with you?' And I said, 'You just didn't hear what I just heard? He can't do anything for me.' She goes, 'Quit crying, I already got you an appointment at MD Anderson. Let's go have a beer and talk!'"
That second opinion changed everything for him. He quickly began a clinical trial, that gave him new hope.
"What the clinical trial consists of is that you're going to get a shot in your stomach once a month. And you're going to be taking this pill every day, four pills a day," says Jay.
It's not easy dealing with late-stage cancer but a strong support system can help.
"What caused my cancer was my testosterone levels were way too high, and the testosterone feeds into the prostate. And that's where they had to literally kill my testosterone levels to zero, and it was like no energy. My wife said, 'Hey, we've got to take out the trash and I would think, 'You take it out. I'm not taking it out.' So, she really spoiled me about everything," Jay explains.
"When I got six months into the trial, I told my wife, I didn't want to do it anymore, because I was tired. And she said, 'Why? You're getting good results, your PSA level dropped down to 0.1. Your testosterone levels are down, you've got to keep going because me and Hazel, which is my dog, we need you.' And I looked at her and said, 'Okay, I'll keep going.'"
One month later, Jay found out that his clinical trial was a success! The medicine shrunk his tumor enough that he could undergo surgery to remove it.
Two-and-a-half-years later, he's closely monitored, cancer-free, and sharing a potentially life-saving message.
"Men are stubborn. I was stubborn. I knew something was wrong. I had symptoms and just didn't follow them. When it first started, you're supposed to check it out around 55 or 60 years of age, then they lowered it down to 50. I'm telling these guys to go in at age 45. Don't wait until you're 50! If they can catch it faster and sooner, you won't have to do half the stuff that I had to go through," says Jay. "Some of you feel violated, but that's what they got to do to fix you, but please don't wait until you're 50. Do it now. It's as easy as a blood test. It's a PSA blood test. They don't even have to do the examination unless they find something there too. I encourage men - don't be stubborn - go! You don't want to fight this battle."