Prostate cancer survivor promotes screening exams

As an executive at an oil and gas service company, Andy Moriarty often shares safety messages with his employees. Lately, these messages have become a lot more personal and health-centered.

“I’m not bashful about this disease,” says Andy, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 57. “I caught it so early because every October, I pick up the phone and schedule my annual physical.”

During his last checkup, a blood test showed Andy had an elevated PSA level. A biopsy confirmed his prostate cancer diagnosis.

“My biggest concern was, is it mild or did it spread to other parts?” he recalls.

Choosing MD Anderson in The Woodlands for prostate cancer treatment

A colleague encouraged Andy to seek treatment at MD Anderson in The Woodlands, which is only 3 miles from their office. Sean McGuire, M.D., and Marc Delclos, M.D., told him he’d caught the disease early.

“This meant I had all these options: active observation, surgery, brachytherapy, radiation,” says Andy, who chose radiation therapy.

Andy is scheduled to complete the last of his 39 radiation treatments in early April. Having his treatments at MD Anderson in The Woodlands has been a great convenience.

“I take one hour off of work every morning,” he says. “I can keep going on with my life. I don’t need to take a 2-month leave of absence for treatment.”

He hasn’t had any major side effects — just a little prostate inflammation. Still, he’s counting the days to the end.

“I am so looking forward to ringing the bell because it’ll be behind me, and there’s a very good chance that I’ll never have it again,” he says.

An advocate for prostate cancer screening

Andy knows his cancer story may have unfolded differently if he hadn’t been so vigilant about his prostate cancer screening exams. That’s why he uses every opportunity to remind others about the importance of preventive care.

“It’s all about knowledge. You have the knowledge as to the benefit of the annual physical exam and the signs to look out for to catch things before they become a real problem,” he says. “And the exam is so simple. There’s no more digital rectal exams – it’s just a blood test that checks the prostate these days.”

His efforts are paying off. A few of his colleagues have already jumped into action.

“It feels great,” he says. “What also feels great is they’re going to go get an annual physical and see how easy it is, and they’re going to feel great when they hear that they’re OK.”

He hopes that more men heed his message and do their part to reduce their risk of prostate cancer.

“If you haven’t had a physical in 5 or 6 years, it’s no longer an annual physical,” he says. “You owe it to yourself, you owe it to your partner or your spouse, your family — even your pets. You’ve got to stay healthy not only for yourself, but for them.”

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