June 28, 2024

Bob's Cancer Story

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♪ [music]
♪ - [Bob]

Paducah is a great little town. It's just...it's a really good community. I have a therapy dog, Joey, and we've been working in hospitals and nursing homes for about eight years.

If you think you have a problem, stop and talk to somebody, and in about 10 minutes, you know, you really kind of walk away thinking, "It's not as bad as I really thought." I had no pep in my step, and I said, "No gas in my tank." That's what I'd tell my wife Terry. I had been doing a yearly PSA test, and my PSA test came back with a elevated number, so we went to see Dr.

Spicer, the urologist, and he ended up suggesting a biopsy. I'll never forget, you know, when he came in. He's a wonderful person. And he closed the door with Terry and I and he says, "I've got bad news."

When you hear that word that you have cancer, it's just like... it's hard to describe. You just...I almost felt faint. It was a blessing to know that the Ray & Kay Eckstein Cancer Care Center was available and that they had Dr.

Locken, and the ability to treat me here at home in my own back yard, which meant just a ton to me because my mother is here. She's 91 years young, and my wife and my work and my dogs, and just the community.

- [Dr. Locken]

The community really attracted me. And then what kept me, and has made me stay here, has been the dedication of Baptist Health Paducah towards oncology. We have state of the art technology and facilities. I truly believe that we have world-class cancer care here.

And the delivery of radiation, it's like an X-ray table. Most everybody's had an X-ray, they're hard, they're flat. In order to accommodate Bob, we needed to develop some support devices that would allow him relief from his back pain, but still keep him immobilized so we could target the tumor we were treating.

- He was genuinely concerned that, you know, we get this done and we get it done properly. And he managed to make that happen, you know, with his team. I can't say enough good about Dr. Locken.

He's just one cool dude.

- [Lisa]

The spirit of cancer patients, they are very strong. They're often worried about the people that are there with them.

- I love nurse Lisa. It didn't take long at all and I felt like I could just talk to her just, you know, like a best friend. You can teach somebody to do a job, but you can't teach people to have the compassion they had. It was the difference between to be able to make all 43 treatments or not.

- [Veretta]

I feel like anyone that I come in contact with, I would treat them as if it was my family, if it was my brother, my sister, or my mom. And I think here, we do put our patients first.

- The goal is to finish the radiation, and there's a bell on the lobby. That's something that kind of you look forward to doing, was being able to ring the bell. We had Kirchhoff cookies that were made in the bell shape. I took those, the last day, on a Monday, when I actually rang the bell.

And I was so thankful to be able to stay here. Being able to leave there every day and come home and get in my own recliner, and have my own bed and my own shower, it was just a beautiful thing. Baptist Health gave me a new chance at life right here in my own backyard. Beautiful place, great food too.

♪ [music]

Battling a Rare Cancer is Easier in Your Own Backyard

Bob Dwyer is battling a rare form of cancer — but he’s doing it from the comfort of his own personal oasis: his home. 

With no gas in his tank and no pep in his step, Bob had begun to feel as if mowing yards was more like running a marathon. He’d lost his zest. And normally, Bob had plenty of zest to spare.

When he could no longer ignore his lethargy or the escalating pain of an old back injury, Bob sought help from a doctor. After a routine prostate exam, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was difficult and overwhelming news, but he was determined to keep a positive attitude.

Urologist Donald Spicer, MD, Baptist Health Paducah, did the biopsy. “I’ll never forget the day I got the results,” Bob said. “Your whole life is upended in one moment.”

Bob tries not to complain. He’s seen others experiencing pain in the nursing homes and hospitals where he volunteers with his emotional support therapy dog, Joey.

“I try to temper my pain and suffering with all that I see out there,” he said.

Bob was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that had wrapped around his entire prostate, bladder and intestines, making surgery impossible. “If they’d done the surgery, I’d lose my bladder and my rectum,” he said.

Bob considered heading out of state to receive cancer care and had even lined up friends to stay with during treatment. But then he learned Baptist Health Paducah offered the same advanced technologies and treatments in its Ray and Kay Eckstein Regional Cancer Care Center — and it was close to home. It also was close to his wife, Terrie; his 91-year-old mother, Barbara; his beloved dogs; and the community he loves.

The plan was to use a combination of chemotherapy and radiation to smash the tumors and then starve the cancer. However, because things aren’t always simple with treating cancer, Baptist Health Paducah has a multidisciplinary team to customize each patient’s treatment to fit their individual needs.

Because of Bob’s back injury, he could not lie flat on the radiation table, so his treatment team came up with an innovative solution tailored just for him. They constructed a mold to keep Bob’s legs bent at an angle, easing the pressure on his back.

In May 2019, Bob rang the bell that signifies the last radiation treatment is complete. He brought in bell-shaped cookies to celebrate with the nurses.

“There’s a misconception that because we live in a small community, that we should run to Nashville to get our healthcare,” Bob said. “The caregiving I’ve received at Baptist Health Paducah is beyond any I’ve ever received in my life.”

Because he stayed close to home, Bob was able to care for his mom, run his family’s kennel business specializing in the rare breed Shiloh Shepherds, and work at Kirchhoff’s, a historic deli in downtown Paducah — all while undergoing treatment. He is living life beyond cancer, even as he fights.

“There’s a healing quality to being in your own backyard,” he said.