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Tim’s Prostate Cancer Story

Tim J., Prostate Cancer

Symptoms: None; elevated PSA levels
Treatment: Prostatectomy (surgery)

Tim’s Stage 1 Prostate Cancer Story

Edited by: Katrina Villareal

Tim J. feature profile

Tim, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma & prostate cancer survivor, father of two, and basketball coach, shares his journey from the shock of a cancer diagnosis to his recovery and newfound passion for cycling.

Prior to his non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, he wasn’t feeling well, was very tired, and had swollen lymph nodes.

His prostate cancer was discovered months after finishing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma when his primary care doctor noticed his rising PSA levels. Given the different treatment options, he chose to have his prostate removed, despite initial reservations about the robotic surgery involved.

Dealing with cancer, he emphasizes the importance of a strong mindset and having a support system, drawing strength from his faith, support group, and friends. Facing the diagnosis alongside his mother’s battle with breast cancer, Tim hopes that his experience can inspire others.

Despite the challenges, Tim’s positive mindset and faith played a crucial role in his recovery, encouraging others to persevere through difficulties with the belief that tomorrow will be better.

Tim’s story is part of the “Our Voices, Our Power” series by The Patient Story. Discover more of the series by exploring Paul’s prostate cancer story.


Thank you to Janssen for its support of our patient education program! The Patient Story retains full editorial control over all content.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. This is not medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider for treatment decisions.

  • Name: Tim J.
  • Diagnosis:
    • Prostate cancer
  • Initial Symptoms:
    • None; caught rising PSA levels
  • Treatment:
    • Surgery: prostatectomy

No matter how tough it is today, tomorrow is going to be better.

Tim J.

Tim J.


I’m a cancer survivor, a father of two awesome sons, and a basketball coach. I recently discovered a passion for cycling.

I grew up in North Carolina. I was the son of a Pentecostal minister. My father was also a farmer so I definitely know the meaning of hard work.

First Cancer Diagnosis

Initial Symptoms

I wasn’t feeling well and was very tired. My lymph nodes behind my ears, my armpits, and my groin area were swollen. I couldn’t sleep.

I finally decided to go to the doctor. My primary care doctor was pretty sure that I had cancer.

They did the first biopsy in the office. They cut behind my ear to remove some tissue. It wasn’t good enough so they had to do another biopsy where they sedated me and took more tissue. I had to wait about two weeks.

I received a phone call one morning. “We need to see you as soon as possible.” When I walked in, I had a feeling that the news wasn’t going to be positive. It was a very uneasy feeling not knowing how that visit would go, but I knew that it wasn’t good news.

There have been moments in the past when I was feeling the same way, but it didn’t linger. It disappeared. This time, the pain progressively got worse and very uncomfortable.

Tim J.
Tim J.
Getting the Lymphoma Diagnosis

My doctor started by saying, “I have good news and bad news. Which one would you like to hear first?” I asked him for the bad news first. He said, “You have cancer.” At that time, he didn’t know was lymphoma because the test results hadn’t come back yet.

Then I said, “Give me the good news.” He said, “The good news is this is the best cancer you can have.”

Once I found an oncologist, we did a spinal tap, which was very painful but a process that must be done to see if the cancer got into my bones. I was very relieved that it didn’t.

In a few days, I found out I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Reaction to the Diagnosis

I didn’t know how to take that. Cancer is cancer. I was in shock, but had a sense of relief, in a way because now I knew the reason why I wasn’t feeling well. Now that we are here, we can start the process of what would be the next step for me.

I wanted to be proactive. If there’s something that I need to do, the more information I have will help me know how to deal with it to get to a place where this is no longer an issue. But I knew there was something wrong.

After receiving the initial diagnosis, I wasn’t worried about myself. I was worried about how to tell my family. How do you start that conversation?

I wasn’t worried about the future. My faith kicked in at that point. I wanted a plan of attack to get started with the process of healing.

Tim J.
Tim J.
The Impact of Faith

There’s no such thing as a perfect life. How boring would that be?

Growth comes from going through storms of life. My diagnosis was a chance to grow. It definitely gave me a more sense of awareness and appreciation for life that was much different than I had before.


I went to treatment three times a week and had blood tests every week.

After my first treatment regimen, the cancer was still active in my lymph nodes so we started another treatment regimen. My doctor thought that would work best for me.

Side Effects of Treatment

I lost my hair. It affected me in a much different way.

Throughout treatment, I continued coaching and working. I continued being a part of my honor guard team, which was very important to me.

I maintained my lifestyle and activities as much as possible to help me not focus on my circumstances and what I was going through. Of course, there were days when I wasn’t feeling like this, but they weren’t as often as I thought they would be.

Tim J.
Tim J.

In Remission

I had my last cancer treatment in April, two days before my birthday. A few weeks later, I saw my doctor for a routine visit and he informed me I was in remission. He also told me that remission doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily cancer-free. It does mean that you will have flare-ups occasionally.

I never had that explained to me that way; that was a shock. But on days that I don’t feel that well — and I do have those days — I have something to relate it to.

Tim J.

Second Cancer Diagnosis

Initial Symptoms

In January 2020, I relocated from Long Beach, California, to Savannah, Georgia, for work. In the era of COVID, it was a very isolated time moving to a new city.

There, a primary care doctor noticed that my PSA counts were continually rising. He suggested I go to a urologist and have them run some tests. It was discovered that I had prostate cancer.

Getting the Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

It was a shock. I had been feeling very uncomfortable after riding a bike for numerous miles. This pain was different than being on a bike for 2 or 3 hours.

Tim J.
Tim J.
Reaction to the Diagnosis

It was hard to accept at first, especially knowing that a robot was going to be operating on you. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy recovery process.

I didn’t feel sorry for myself. If I could go through three years of treatment for lymphoma, I would be able to make it through this with no problem.

It’s a very painful recovery process, but I made it through and I knew I would. I just had to be patient. The healing process takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Receiving that news for the second time, I was better prepared because I had already gone through that process of treatment for three years. But even then, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. My thought process was, Why not me? This will be part of my story to let someone else know that they would be okay. They can do it. You can come out of this storm stronger as well.

Breaking the News to Family & Friends

It was very difficult, but I knew I couldn’t keep it to myself because having a support team is very important.

As a father, we want to protect our children. But without sharing the news with them, we hurt them at the same time. It definitely brought us together and made our relationship much stronger.

My son was playing basketball in Finland at the time, but I knew that was a phone call I had to make. It was very difficult for me to share the news with him being in another country.

They were in shock. They felt sorry for me. It was hard for them to come and sit with me during treatment, but as I progressed and went into remission two times, they saw strength, confidence, and resilience.

Tim J.

Talk to your sons about your cancer experience and what they should be keeping an eye out for. I know more about my family history so I pass it on to them. It’s something that they should stay on top of and not be prideful about.

Tim J.

My circle of friends is very small, but a lot of my friends now are in the cycling community. I’m riding with a group I’ve never ridden before. They’re having a meeting and a doctor is going to be present. One of the things they’re going to be talking about is the stigma in the community of men and prostate cancer.

I share my story with them very briefly. My words are very short and to the point. I tell them, “I’m a cancer survivor and I’m blessed to ride with you guys today. It’s no joke. If you’re not feeling well, you should go get checked out. It may be something that’s not going to go away. It’s better to find out now. I’ve lost friends because they were too shy or too proud and didn’t want to tell anyone.”

Talk to your sons about your cancer experience and what they should be keeping an eye out for. I know more about my family history so I pass it on to them. It’s something that they should stay on top of and not be prideful about.

Sharing that news with my mother was very difficult because she was battling breast cancer in North Carolina at the same time.

I was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. My son was in Finland playing basketball. There was a lot going on, but I knew I had my faith to fall back on and I could see myself assuming my normal daily life.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time. I was allowed to work from home, but it meant standing up as soon as I could. A friend was nice enough to drive with me to North Carolina to see my mother. Unfortunately, that was the last time that I saw her. She passed away the following week.

My mother’s very strong. Being strong, knowing that you’re going to be okay, and falling back on your faith came from her. She was more worried about how I was doing than what she was going through.

Tim J.
Tim J.
Dealing with a Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer is not something you can plan for. Cancer can affect you at any age. When it affects you personally, there’s a choice you have to make. How do you deal with it?

Having a strong mindset from the beginning can make a difference. From the day I received my diagnosis, I could see myself after the process and the healing process was over.

I didn’t focus on my circumstances at the moment because I knew this was something I would recover from. However, that would be a process that I would have to go through, but it was one that I wasn’t afraid of. I knew I would be okay.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

I was given three options. I could have my prostate frozen, undergo radiation treatment, or have my prostate removed. I asked my doctor what choice would he make if he were in my position. He said he would have it removed so I made the same choice.

After three years of immunotherapy treatment, I didn’t want radiation because of what it does to your body. For me, the best choice after getting advice from my doctor was to have my prostate removed and deal with the process of recovery and healing.

I had a chance to discuss my options with the surgeon as well as my primary care doctor. A team of doctors gave me what they thought the best options were and what the side effects would be.

Tim J.
Tim J.
Recovering from Surgery

It was difficult at times not being able to sit, not being able to sleep the way you wanted to, and being confined home a lot. Your whole approach to your body functions is a lot different.

It’s a very long, painful process, but I’m blessed it was found early because I could have had a much different diagnosis.

Follow-up Protocol

I see my oncologist every six months. There were blood clots in my lungs that were discovered during a routine check in August 2022 so I was placed on a blood thinner.

I continue to cycle. I didn’t let that stop me. After four months, they took me off blood thinners. We still don’t know the reason why the blood clots were there, but life goes on.

Importance of a Strong Support System

My high school basketball head coach had my initials along with our trainer who was also going through cancer treatment put on the jerseys for that season. They had us come up. To have a high school cheer for you made a big difference.

A good support group comes in handy. You can pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I’m not feeling well. I have this test coming up.” To have someone to reassure you that everything’s okay makes a big difference.

My faith was first and foremost. That was my go-to. I also had my support group and my friends from church.

It’s very important to have a first responder, someone you can go to when you receive bad news.

My circumstances don’t control who I am, but at the same time, I have a core support group that I can reach out to when I’m not feeling my best. They reassure me that I’m okay and I can reassure them that they’re okay.

Tim J.
Tim J.

Stigma of Prostate Cancer

I feel there’s a stigma. Part of the stigma could be not having the financial coverage that should be available to everyone. Pride is a factor.

Men are very proud. I’ve got this. Nothing’s wrong. I’m going to be okay. Even if I feel uncomfortable for a week, it’ll go away. If I tell my friends about this, they’re going to think less of me. my friends are going to laugh at me. They aren’t going to understand. My kids aren’t going to understand.

When your body is telling you that there’s something wrong, don’t ignore it.

I’ve had conversations with my sons and told them if they’re not feeling well, go to the doctor. It’s important to know your family history.

Unfortunately, I grew up not knowing my family history. My father was a Pentecostal minister and they didn’t believe in doctors. As a young man growing up and you don’t know your family history, it puts you in a high-risk category. The only time I went to a doctor when I was younger was for my physical for sports.

I believe everyone’s given a gift in life. When you’re not feeling well, your body tells you. It’s very important to listen to your body and go to a doctor rather than trying to diagnose yourself.

My story can be used to cheer someone else on. I became stronger, more generous, and more understanding of others. There’s nothing more powerful than when you’re going through treatment.

I’m blessed to sit here and tell my story and have that opportunity to bless someone else.

Tim J.
Tim J.

Words of Advice

I’m human. I allow myself to have those thoughts but not stay there. We have freedom of choice, especially with the way we think. I would welcome that thought but never let a negative thought control who I am because that’s not who I am.

Storms of life are going to happen. How you choose to navigate through them is up to you. I became stronger for my children.

Share the news with your family as soon as possible. You will have good days and bad days, but when you have a core group of people who love you and care about you, they will be there for you on those bad days.

Listen to your body. If you’re not feeling well, go get checked out. Don’t wait to have tests done. They’re vital because they’re very important to staying on top of your health.

Be strong for someone else who may be going through the same thing.

Cancer is part of my life story, but fortunately, I’m blessed to share this story with other men who may not want to get checked out. Even women ask me how I’m able to do what I do. First, my faith. Second, I didn’t let my circumstances control who I am.

Having a very strong mindset from the beginning is the key. See yourself not where you are now, but where you will be when you go into remission. Realizing that through that process there will be days when you’re not feeling your best. But remember, those days won’t last for long.

Tim J.
Tim J.

New Motivation

Cycling gave me an outlet during COVID. I could get out and ride in Savannah for 10, 12, 15, 20 miles to clear my head. It gave me a new sense of purpose and not let what was going on around me and the world affect me.

Cycling is a process. It starts with being mentally tough, just like going through treatment. I feel empowered. I’m doing something that I never thought I would be doing, but I’m blessed to do that.

Cycling has given me a second chance, another option to be active. It also allowed me to tell my story. I met an awesome young man who is going through treatment and he told me about The Patient Story and how he thought it would be an awesome opportunity for me to share my story.

I have a sense of gratitude that I can ride 50 miles at 25 miles an hour. I can push it to 30 miles an hour.

As a cancer survivor, I hope that what I’ve gone through can give someone else hope to hang in there. No matter how tough it is today, tomorrow is going to be better.

I’m blessed to tell my story. I didn’t know when that process started that a bike would be my saving grace. But it was and I could use that as part of my journey to help someone else.

Tim J.


Special thanks again to Janssen for its support of our independent patient education content. The Patient Story retains full editorial control.

Tim J. feature profile
Thank you for sharing your story, Tim!

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