LIKE MANY men,
wasn't exactly diligent about getting checkups. But when the 71-year-old Bucks County resident started hearing about all the medical ailments his friends were being diagnosed with, he knew he couldn't continue neglecting his own health.
Oteilus Walters, 72, of South Philadelphia, also spent a good portion of his life believing, that, on some level, he was invincible. Then, as always happens if you're lucky, along came middle age. Walters found himself not only dealing with hypertension but with the jolt of losing his dad and a brother to strokes. That's when Walters woke up and figured out that he wasn't Superman after all, and began to pay more attention, especially to his rising PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels. (Increased PSA can indicate that cancer is present.)
Eventually, both Borthwick and Walters wound up being diagnosed with prostate cancer, which affects roughly one in six American men. Every 19 minutes, a man dies from this insidious disease. Borthwick and Walters were lucky because they caught their disease at a stage when it's considered highly treatable. Each chose radiation treatments administered with the aid of Penn's new Calypso 4D Localization System, which was approved in 2006 and helps stabilize the prostate during treatment.
These days, Walters, who taught social sciences at Audenried High School, exercises daily at the Mercy Fitness Center on Island Avenue, and Borthwick, now 72, works in his home office in Mechanicsville managing some privately owned, industrial-machinery units. Both are enjoying being grandfathers and are glad they stopped procrastinating and became proactive in regards to their health.
"I don't know what it is. It's maybe like going to the barber. You just put it off. Some of the testing is very unpleasant," Borthwick explained, adding that he thinks women are better at such things.
He credits his friends' openess about their own health situations with having saved his life.
"If you find you have it, share that with as many people as you can. You'll be surprised how many people have gone through the experience," Borthwick said. "It's not something to hide, to shrink from, to keep as a secret."
This year, for Father's Day, instead of giving dad or other male relatives another gift he doesn't need, why not talk with him about his health? It's not exactly the easiest thing to bring up. If he gives you that look, tell him that it's also Men's Health Week and that's why you're getting all in his business, as they say. And while you're at it, ask whether he has ever had a PSA test. Men 50 and older should have one every year.
Walters said if he could talk with fathers, he'd say, "Instead of waiting for them to give you something, as a father take the responsibility to give them a healthy dad. Love is not what someone can do for you. Love is trying to do something for others.
"If you love them, you certainly can't love from the grave. You can love them better from this side of the graveyard," he continued. "You have a responsibility to your kids to be there for them, so to speak." *