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Survivor Spirit: Raring and ready to run
Away he goes: Survivor Bob Anderson, left, with running partner John Bittenger on a pre-dawn 10 mile run. - photo by Jessica Smith

When Bob Anderson’s family learned of his prostate cancer diagnosis eight years ago, they were strangely calm. Not from lack of concern, but they were confident he would conquer the disease like everything else he did in life — with deliberation and determination.

Case in point, while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, the 74 year-old retired Emory Hospital clinical lab scientist realized he was having a stroke. He directed his wife Sue to take him to the emergency room at Rockdale Medical Center. There, not only did a doctor give him necessary medication to deal with the stroke, but inspiration to fight and train for his next marathon — just one of 32 he’s run in the last 20 years. "That ER doctor will never know how important it was… I was laying there my right side virtually paralyzed with terrible images going through my head… she learned that I liked to run and asked if I had ever run the New York Marathon, when I told her no she said, ‘We have to get you up and out of here because I ran it, and it’s a great experience.’ I’m having a stroke, and yet she thinks I can run another marathon," he said.

Due to a previous issue with an enlarged prostate, the Pennsylvania native had been having digital exams and monitoring his PSA, prostate specific antigens, levels during routine physicals. This test measures protein produced by the prostate glands cells. His PSAs had been in the upper range of normal, and during a physical in spring of 2002 they shot up even a few points higher leading his urologist to suggest a biopsy. It revealed malignant cells.

Anderson asked his doctor which option, surgical removal of his prostate gland or a seed implant, would afford him the greatest chance of getting back to his "normal routine." He went the seed implant route where radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate gland transporting a high dose of radiation with limited damage to surrounding tissues. This procedure was followed up with external high beam radiation treatments. For the next seven years, his PSAs were measured every six months. Last summer, he was told he could go back to just annual check-ups.

"The positive approach of my wife, children, sister and brother and the staff at RCOG (Radiotherapy Clinic of Georgia) to this whole thing made it difficult for me not to be encouraged and optimistic," he said. "In fact, there was a time when discussing the cancer with my kids that I was wondering if they heard what I was saying…their response was ‘You’ll beat this one like everything else.’’’

Anderson also attributes his fitness and faith, along with early detection, to his victory over cancer. He’s the captain of his men’s senior ALTA tennis team, and in 2008 Anderson won his age division in the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon. He trains religiously with running partner John Bittenger. The two can be found on the streets of Olde Town three mornings a week running loops of 8-12 miles. "I don’t even think about it anymore. It hasn’t been an issue. In every phase of my life, things have returned to normal," he said.