MARTINSBURG – Dr. Paul Kradel, of Martinsburg, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005.
That same year, he underwent surgery to remove the cancer. Today, he is the facilitator of a support group that provides support to people diagnosed with the disease and their families.
He recently shared his Prostate Cancer Awareness Month journey, which takes place in September, and also shared meaningful advice for all men, not just those diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“A lot of people are afraid to talk to their doctor. The most important thing to do is talk to your doctor and say you’d like to be tested for prostate cancer,” Kradel said.
Father of two sons and grandfather of four grandsons, he remembers the day he discovered he had cancer. With tears in his eyes, he explained that he was told he was a grandfather two weeks later.
What started as a relaxing Saturday night began the greatest journey of Kradel’s life. A message from his doctor was waiting for him saying that the test results had come in and that Kradel had cancer.
Before September 23, 2005, the day he was diagnosed, Kradel had simply tried to increase his life insurance – the news of the cancer came as a complete shock.
During the routine physical exam, he was told that his PSA level – the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood, which when elevated can sometimes indicate a prostate problem – was too high. raised. He was then retested by his regular doctor and had a biopsy, thinking he would be able to show normal results to the insurance agent and get the increased policy he wanted.
Kradel soon discovered that although the cancer hadn’t spread, he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, with too many infected cells to treat nonsurgically.
On November 2, 2005, just over a month after the diagnosis, Kradel was in Winchester to undergo a radical proctectomy.
“It was a shock, everything was happening so fast,” he said. “But it was good. I didn’t have too much time to think about it and worry.
“It’s a very sneaky disease, which is why it’s important to get checked regularly,” he said. “After you get prostate cancer, it’s something you have to keep dealing with for the rest of your life – regular doctor visits and all the issues that come up after you have your prostate removed.”
Kradel said attending a support group gave him immense mental relief. The support group was meeting at the Dorothy McCormack Center in Martinsburg, but due to COVID-19 the location and information has changed to the local prostate cancer support group.
“The group is for prostate cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. We don’t give medical advice, but we share our medical experiences,” he said.
The support group meets the third Thursday of each month at 4:15 p.m. at the Martinsburg Public Library in the upstairs meeting room. The first meeting is October 20.
“It’s for those who just found out and for those who were diagnosed 30 years ago,” Kradel explained. “The group is meant to be a place to talk about all the things that cross your mind after a diagnosis of prostate cancer, a place to listen to others share their stories, a place to gather information on all aspects, from diagnosis to post-treatment and a place to not feel alone in the battle against disease.
“Prostate cancer is very scary, but with the right support, you can make it through,” Kradel said. “Help comes in all forms, and anyone diagnosed with any type of cancer should use it. It definitely got me through prostate cancer.
Kradel said that in addition to joining a support group, it’s important to have hope.
“What keeps me going is being tested and getting good results and the support of other group members – some start their journey with prostate cancer. I’ve been there for 17 years now “, did he declare.
In addition to the support group, Kradel is an active participant in Relay for Life.
“It’s very meaningful to me. It’s a good way for the community to support all cancer survivors. I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a cancer survivor,” he said. You see men there, you see women there, children there, you see teenagers there, the whole range of the community. In other words, no one is safe. You have to get things checked out. You must have a primary care doctor, emergency care will not suffice.You must have a full medical examination every year.
Kradel is also a board member of the National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions, or NASPCC, a network of state coalitions, groups, and individuals interested in forming coalitions of State.
“We support each other and the men and families of our states by identifying, developing and advocating for policies that support high quality standards such as patient education and multidisciplinary care,” the description reads. NASPCC.
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a time to help people learn about prostate cancer and support those affected by it.
According to cancer.org, besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2022 are about 268,490 new cases and about 34,500 deaths from the disease. Additionally, approximately 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Like Kradel, the NASPCC recommends informed decision-making about prostate cancer screening and supports the early detection of potentially fatal prostate cancer.
For more information about the support group, contact Kradel at 304-267-2520 or [email protected]