It was spring break 2006 and Bills WR David Nelson was as care free as a college freshman could be. Little did he know his father Roy was busy getting screened at the doctor's office after experiencing some problems. The diagnosis? Prostate cancer.
"I had no idea," said Nelson. "My dad is kind of a tough guy and doesn't really tell anyone what's going on. Then when I got back from spring break in 2006 he told me that the doctors had found some cancer and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer."
Suddenly prostate cancer was a personal cause for Nelson and his family, which is why he's taking part in Roswell Park's free prostate cancer and screening event taking place at the Paul Maguire club at Ralph Wilson Stadium this coming Tuesday (Oct. 4th) from 3:30 to 7 pm. Roswell Park Cancer Institute doctors will be performing free screenings.
Nelson's father went through chemotherapy treatment in his native Dallas, but it was never completely eradicated from his body. It had returned a second time and again he went through treatment. Fast forward to the fall of 2010, and the cancer had again returned.
A rookie with the Bills at that point, Nelson spoke with the Bills athletic training staff for any possible suggestions to finally help rid his father of his prostate cancer.
"Last year it came back strong and he was affected by it and it gave him some problems again," Nelson said. "Talking to our athletic trainers they said we had a great cancer institute up here in Buffalo and highly recommended it, that of course being Roswell. I was blessed enough to be up here, it was kind of fate that I was playing in a city that has a great cancer institute. He drove up here immediately and started living with me and took care of it. They did a great job with it."
Accompanied by Nelson's younger sister, Roy Nelson went for a few consultations with the team of cancer specialists at Roswell.
"He was never treated at Roswell," said Nelson. "He had met a doctor in his previous go round that he liked and so he went back to him. But Roswell gave him the initial diagnosis, told him how bad it was and gave him some advice. Roswell was the one that found it and made sure that he was taking care of himself. I got to know them the last year and it's near and dear to my heart because it's personal."
Presented with all of his options by the specialists at Roswell, Roy Nelson again chose radiation therapy, which was also Roswell's recommendation.
"That was pretty much his third stint with that," said Nelson. "He went ahead with (the chemotherapy) and it's gruesome because it's tough on your body. It was tough to come home and see him like that. He's a tough man, but it beats up on your body. He went with Roswell's recommendation though and it worked."
Roy Nelson for the first time in five years is cancer free and living back in Dallas with the rest of his family.
"He feels good," said Nelson. "He's still not as able to do as much as he wants to like picking up heavy stuff. Obviously having gone through three radiation therapies there are some things he can't do anymore. But he's healthy and his quality of life is good. The first time he went for treatment it came back and the second time he went it came back. This is the first time he went for treatment and it hasn't come back and there are no signs of it returning. So it's definitely a big positive."
Nelson is thankful for Roswell's guidance and the monitoring plan they've provided for his father going forward. He also knows with prostate cancer running in his family that he has to be vigilant himself.
"There's a higher prevalence if it's in your family," he said. "Not only has my dad had it, but my grandfather had it, so having a family history I have a higher chance of having it myself. So it's personal. It's something I'm doing because I'm looking out for myself as well as spreading the word. This is something that could affect my family some day."
Men planning to attend the clinic should call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or complete the online registration form at http://www.roswellpark.org/knowyourstats