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Cancer: Living with a killer in remission

Longtime La Jollan Frank Beiser, a Kiwanian and retired accountant, found out he had prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in males, more than 10 years ago.

“You don’t really accept it,” said Beiser, about his initial reaction.

Some stricken with the disease seek solace in friends or family. Others turn to faith for an answer. Some, like Beiser, throw themselves into their hobbies, which, for him, was therapeutic.

“I had been involved with bicycling,” he said, “and I was going through treatment, I really couldn’t do much except go to the gym every day. I made a promise to myself, when I went through this, that I would get back to bicycling. It became a goal, a dream. Once I got back on a bike again, it was such a great experience.”

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Beiser said there is no “cure” for the strain of cancer with which he is afflicted. With treatment, however, it has been in remission for the past decade.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men. In 2008, more than 186,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 28,000 men will die from the disease. One new case occurs every 2.5 minutes and a man dies from prostate cancer every 19 minutes.

“If you’re a man 60 or older,” pointed out Beiser, “you have a greater than average chance of having to deal with this.”

Beiser was treated with a series of hormonal injections, which, in his case, worked extremely well. He gets tested several times a year now. “My remission is good,” Beiser said. “It seems to be very solid.”

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Asked what advice he had to offer to others about the disease, Beiser retorted, tongue-in-cheek, “Don’t get cancer.”

But if you do contract the disease, the best thing to do, he said, is to seek out the help of others."Talk to people who have survived it,” Beiser counseled. “Find a group of people, family, friends, me, anybody you can find who has been through it. It is critical to have someone you can talk to about it.”

Beiser concluded that, for all its negative aspects, his cancer diagnosis changed his life for the better. “It put me on a path to a healthier lifestyle,” he said.