Veterans Day – “By the time I saw my VA doctor, he said it was too late”
| Steve Cooper, Fox News – As I sat in the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital on Dec. 21, 2012, I had no idea my life was about to change.
I’d seen a nurse practitioner in 2011 and was finally consulting with a VA urologist almost a year later.
I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t prepared for the diagnosis I was about to receive.
“You’ve got one of the worst cases of prostate cancer I’ve ever seen in my life,” the urologist said to me. “Hospice will call you Monday morning.”
Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Had I been seen by a doctor sooner, my cancer could have been detected before it had progressed so far.
Now it was too late. My cancer was so advanced the VA wouldn’t even offer me a treatment option.
I had joined the U.S. Army in 1989 as a young, ambitious kid. I honorably served my country for 18 years in the infantry and military police.
When I took off the uniform, I relied on the promise I would be cared for as one who “shall have borne the battle.” But that promise was broken.
I was let down by government, the country that I served and loved. That hurt worse than my diagnosis.
The road I’ve traveled has been long and grueling. Leaving the VA behind, I sought another opinion from a private-sector doctor.
I immediately underwent surgery, followed by years of intense radiation, chemotherapy and anti-hormone therapy.
Today, my cancer is in remission, thanks to the willingness of my non-VA doctors to fight for me.
I still struggle and endure regular physical pain, but I’ve overcome far more than I or the VA expected …
Steve Cooper is a veteran of the United States Army and veterans advocate. Read more.