Life can be filled with trials and tribulations. The true test of a person’s faith can be how that person deals with adversity.
Jerry Allen has had his share of health problems.
He woke up Oct. 2, 1993, went about his usual routine, and then his world changed — he had a stroke.
“I had just turned 50 a few months before this happened,” Allen said.
Looking back at the situation, Allen said he wasn’t that surprised it had happened.
“I wasn’t taking care of myself,” he said.
He had a stressful job, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, didn’t eat properly, and didn’t exercise.
With determination and prayer, Allen spent eight months recovering and returned to work.
“I wouldn’t say I was a religious man,” Allen said, “but I was raised to believe in God.”
His mother taught him three virtues at an early age — faith, hope, and charity. Since that wakeup call in 1993, Allen has tried to live a more productive life.
And then it happened again. In February 2007, when Allen and wife Linda were living in Greenville, S.C., Allen heard devastating news. He had prostate cancer.
“I didn’t have any symptoms,” he said.
Allen had a routine annual physical and his prostate-specific antigen or PSA was high.
PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. PSA is present in small quantities in the semen of normal men and is often elevated in the presence of prostate cancer and in other prostate disorders. A blood test to measure PSA is considered the most effective test for the early detection of prostate cancer.
A biopsy was performed and determined Allen indeed had prostate cancer.
“Melanoma runs in my family but no other kind of cancer,” Allen said.
For two months, Allen received radiation treatments five days a week.
“I would stop by the hospital on my way to work,” Allen said. “It was like going by the post office and mailing a letter.”
He didn’t miss a day of work as a deliveryman of auto windshields during that time.
Although Allen didn’t have any major complications, he was anxious about waiting for treatments.
When the treatments ended, Allen decided it was time to retire. His wife wanted to return to her home state of Kansas. They looked for homes to purchase and found their current home in Marion.
The couple moved to Marion on June 13, 2008. They believe they belong here.
Allen served on a Navy ship — the Francis Marion, named after the old Swamp Water Fox himself, for whom the town of Marion is named.
Good news followed the Allens to Marion when he saw an oncologist in January and was told he didn’t need to have any more exams — he was cured.
“I believe in the power of prayer,” Allen said.
Raised a Methodist, Allen said he had strayed off the path in pursuit of “ungodly things.”
“But I was able to get back on the right path because of God’s forgiveness,” he said.
When facing death, Allen said he was not afraid because he knew that his fate was in God’s hands.
“A lot of people hear the word ‘cancer’ and they overreact,” Allen said. “I figure if it is my time to go, it doesn’t matter what ailment I have. God will take me home.”
But while he is alive, the Allens plan to live their lives to the fullest. They try to help others as much as possible, are generous by giving to others, and praise God for their gifts of health and happiness.
About prostate cancer
A man with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms.
For men who do have symptoms, common ones include urinary problems; not being able to pass urine; having a difficult time starting or stopping the urine flow; needing to urinate often, especially at night; weak flow of urine; urine flow that starts and stops; pain or burning during urination; difficulty having an erection; blood in the urine or semen; and frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, radiation therapy is an option for men with any stage of prostate cancer. Men with early stage prostate cancer may choose radiation therapy instead of surgery. It also may be used after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the area. In later stages of prostate cancer, radiation treatment may be used to help relieve pain.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the treated area.