Stewart Campbell describes himself as someone who is “living with cancer.” In 2007, the Cochrane, Alberta resident was diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer after feeling lower back pain and going for a checkup with his family physician.
At that point, the disease had already escaped his prostate gland and metastasized to several lymph nodes. It meant that primary treatments such as surgery and radiation were not options. That put Campbell on a different path — one where the focus was on controlling his metastatic prostate cancer, rather than curing it.
New hope for those living with cancer
Campbell has managed his cancer with targeted oral therapies and chemotherapy, which have been very effective for him at different times throughout his treatment journey. The 70-year-old lives a satisfying life. That may not have been possible as little as 10 years ago, but, thanks to treatment innovations, today men like Campbell can continue doing the things they enjoy.
Throughout his professional life in the agricultural processing industry, Campbell was someone others turned to for advice and knowledge. That hasn’t changed, but now he uses those skills to help fellow cancer patients.
Each month, 20 or so members of PROSTAID Calgary’s Warrior Support Group (for men with recurring disease or metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer) meet at their favourite pizza joint. “It’s a time when we exchange personal life stories with one another, discuss treatment options, and provide support,” Campbell says. “I’ve made some great friends — people I would have never met if I had not been diagnosed with prostate cancer.”
Giving back to his community
As someone who spent his life doing research for business, Campbell is keen to use that passion to learn more about his disease and to share information with members of PROSTAID Calgary. He scours medical literature, research studies, and oncology websites to get news on the latest developments and clinical trials. These become topics of conversation at the Warriors’ more “technical” meetings held monthly. “When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what PSA was,” says Campbell. “Now, there’s much more awareness amongst men about prostate cancer, and they understand that it’s an important blood test to get, along with an annual checkup by their physician.”
If it’s not medical information he’s looking up, Campbell is reading about history and tracing his ancestry online. He thrives at acquiring and sharing knowledge. And when Campbell isn’t consulting on a part-time basis, assisting with fundraising for prostate cancer initiatives or doing research, he’s spending time with his family — 4 daughters, 5 grandchildren, and his wife of almost 48 years.
Appreciating the good things in life
Living right on the Bow River in the town of Cochrane, west of Calgary, Campbell is surrounded by natural beauty. “There is a lot of green space and the Rocky Mountains are in the background,” he says. “I only have to look out my home office window or walk on a path beside the river to see nature in its finest attire — during all four seasons of the year. I can’t think of a better place to manage stress and anxiety.”
He takes his grandkids for riverside strolls — an opportunity he uses to teach them about science and nature. “When they get older, I’ll teach them things about business,” he says.
In the meantime, Campbell is savouring all the smaller moments of life — watching documentaries or dramas based on historical events to keep his mind active, picking up fresh fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, peas, raspberries, strawberries, and Saskatoon berries from farmers’ markets, or sipping a glass of red wine. He’s a social person who thrives on getting to know people.
If you visited his town, you might spot Campbell at one of its many coffee shops or pubs, reading a newspaper or more likely striking up a conversation with strangers and discovering their unique story. He’s someone whose thirst for knowledge and understanding won’t ever quit. And that has served him — and so many others — well as a man living with cancer and enjoying what life offers.