David Honnold was 61 when he first visited Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in 2014 for emergency surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. What he didn’t expect to receive that day was a cancer diagnosis as well.
“Before surgery, I had blood drawn,” explains Honnold, “and there it was: prostate cancer. So after I recovered from surgery, I was soon on to the next procedure: radiation treatment at the Barnhart Cancer Center.”
David learned of his diagnosis from the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test that can help those with aggressive prostate cancer. However, this test faces some controversy in its utility and benefit.
“The use of PSAs as a screening tool for prostate cancer is considered to be extremely controversial because it can lead patients to receiving treatment for tumors that are not necessarily dangerous,” explains Dr. Phillip Zentner, medical director of radiation oncology at the Barnhart Cancer Center. “For David, however, the test potentially saved his life because the cancer was caught before it was in a late stage.”
“That being said, the results of PSAs are different for each individual and the process should always be reviewed by a primary care physician or urologist beforehand,” says Dr. Zentner.
Over the course of two years, David went through many transitions and changes in his life, but one constant that remained by his side through it all was his partner, Juan Villa.
“For the first three weeks of treatment, I came with David every morning,” Villa recalls. “Toward the end of his treatment I was only able to come on Fridays, but it quickly became our day together.”
Juan is like many others who unexpectedly become caregivers as their loved ones face treatment for serious illnesses like cancer. Having such a support system is vital to the overall success of a person’s treatment plan. The foundation provided by family and friends during the process can revitalize patients and further motivate them to fight the disease.
Just like patients, these caregivers sometimes need a foundation to hold them up as well. To further support caregivers, Sharp HealthCare offers many cancer support groups for patients, their friends and family members.
Now that treatment for David is over, the two plan to get back to their normal routine, working in San Diego and traveling together whenever they have a chance before returning to the cancer center for a follow-up appointment.
“While the reason why I had to be here was disheartening, I’m so grateful for the care I received at the Barnhart Cancer Center,” says Honnold. “It’s been great. I absolutely love the people here.”