Wednesday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), previously a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, announced he has “high-risk prostate cancer” and will undergo surgery later this week.
Brooks credited his loss in the August GOP primary with saving his life, noting that he had won the Republican nod, he “would not have had time for my physical and PSA test.”
Mr. Speaker, this is a very difficult speech for me to give. God works in mysterious ways. When you are an elected official, missed votes require an explanation. That is why I disclose this otherwise very personal, very private, and very humbling matter.
On Halloween Night after votes and as I stood on the Capitol steps, my doctor called and said, ‘Congressman Brooks. Bad news. You have high risk prostate cancer.’ I felt an adrenalin rush as a chill went up and down my spine.
By way of background, prostate cancer kills almost 27,000 American men each year and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths, behind only lung and colorectal cancers.
71% of prostate cancer patients die in less than five years if the prostate cancer has spread beyond the abdominal cavity. In stark contrast, almost all prostate cancer patients live longer than five years if the cancer is discovered early and killed before it spreads.
For example, my father discovered his prostate cancer early. He lived four decades after his prostatectomy. My grandfather discovered his prostate cancer too late. He died not long thereafter.
After my doctor’s diagnosis, I called my wife, Martha, who was back home in Huntsville welcoming Trick or Treaters, and shared the bad news. That night was one of the loneliest nights apart in our 41-year marriage. I kept thinking about my wonderful family, ‘What do I do next,’ and ‘How do I beat this cancer?’
Overnight I formed a plan and began implementing it. In an emotional meeting, I informed my Washington staff of my cancer, that I was immediately flying to Huntsville after a CT Scan that afternoon, and that, for medical reasons, I would be in Alabama the rest of the week.
Based on advice from friends and doctors, I chose Dr. Scott Tully as my treating physician. Dr. Tully is widely respected and has performed more than 3,000 prostatectomies.On Thursday, Martha and I drove to Birmingham to obtain Dr. Tully’s insight about treatment options and risks. He advised a radical prostatectomy.
At Dr. Tully’s direction, I undertook a heart stress test and a Nuclear Bone Scan. Finally, I got some good news. My CT Scan and Nuclear Bone Scan revealed no cancer beyond the prostate. My heart stress test confirmed that I was strong enough to undergo the two to three-hour surgery.
Prostate cancer mortality is compelling. Speed is critical in the fight against prostate cancer. In compliance with the 2017 House Calendar that set end-of-year votes on December 14, and at some risk to myself, Dr. Tully and I delayed my surgery until December 15, this Friday, and set a post-surgery medical procedure for December 20.
My plan was to recuperate at home during the holidays with my family and return to Washington for a full workload when Congress reconvenes on January 3. Unfortunately, last week the House Speaker abruptly changed the House voting calendar that I relied on to set my surgery. As a result, next week I will miss House floor votes unless I am unexpectedly medically cleared to travel.
There are three insights from my experience that I wish to share with the public. First, don’t ever take your health or family for granted. During the holidays, enjoy your family . . . because no one is promised tomorrow.
Second, I encourage age-appropriate men to have regular PSA tests. While PSA tests do not diagnose cancer, my PSA spike persuaded me to have the prostate biopsy that revealed my ‘high risk’ prostate cancer early enough for me to enjoy a very good cure prognosis.
Third, I ran for the Senate in 2017. I finished third out of nine candidates in the Republican Primary. Had I won, I would not have had time for my physical and PSA test. I would not have had a prostate biopsy. I would not now know about my ‘high risk’ prostate cancer that requires immediate surgery.
In retrospect, and paradoxically, losing the Senate race may have saved my life!
Yes, God does work in mysterious ways.
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