A single moment in time would forever change Steve Pillipow’s life. It was September 1995. The Regina resident was awaiting the results of his prostate-specific antigen test when his specialist delivered the news: “Steve, you have prostate cancer.”
“I was devastated and I feared the worst,” said Steve. “When I heard the word ‘cancer,’ my mind began to wander and I thought, ‘how much time do I have?’”
Steve’s reaction was not uncommon. While the diagnosis of prostate cancer in Canada had increased over much of the 1990s, the disease was not discussed openly. Instead, men, like Steve, were often forced to navigate the health care system with little guidance or support.
“At the time, prostate cancer was this big secret that nobody wanted to talk about,” Steve explained.
The hardest part of the process was right after being diagnosed. You’re not sure what’s going on or what treatment options are available. No one has answers and you feel so helpless.Steve’s journey would begin at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre within Regina’s Pasqua Hospital. His urologist explained that restricted radiation was Steve’s only option and that it would need to begin immediately. The treatment was initially quite successful, but after the procedures had been completed, the cancer returned. Beginning in early 1996, he was placed on hormone therapy treatment, which has successfully kept his readings down to this day.
It was during this time that Steve became involved with the prostate cancer support group offered at the Pasqua. The group would become an important part of his life. Over the next 20 years, he developed into a highly respected ambassador for prostate cancer awareness at the local and national level. Today, he helps counsel men who have recently been diagnosed.
The support group was an invaluable resource in my time of need. It feels good to have the ability to now help others, said Steve. “It is such an emotional process. Many times it is great to get together, as men, to just talk and ensure everyone is on the right path when it comes to treatment and recovery.”Steve has seen firsthand how that process has evolved since he was a patient. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Regina’s Prostate Assessment Centre has become a key centre of care. Each year, an average of 1,200 men benefit from features such as private examination rooms, specialized areas where they can recover with dignity, and accessibility to doctors, specialists and support groups. It is a reality he could only have dreamed about back in 1995.
“The opening of the Prostate Assessment Centre was a defining moment for men’s health care in southern Saskatchewan,” said Steve. “Thanks to the Hospitals of Regina Foundation and the support of our community, we have an assessment centre that will continue to make lives better. I am so thankful for how far we have come. It is a new era for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and I look forward to working together to build upon the excellent systems we now have in place.”