Prostate cancer affects 1 in 8 men in the United States, according to The Movember Foundation, including local husband and father, Caulley Deringer of Alexandria, Va.
“It was about 6 years ago when I was diagnosed—big surprise to me,” says Deringer. “I was 47 at the time and a rude awakening when you get that news,” he says.
Deringer recalls getting the news in his doctor’s office and immediately having his entire life flash before his eyes. “You think of your family and longevity and what does this all mean?”
Facing his own mortality, Deringer says the toughest part was sharing the news of his illness with his three children, who were 11, 7 and 4 years of age at the time of his diagnosis.
Breaking the News to His Kids
“The 4-year-old certainly couldn’t grasp it at the time, but certainly the 7 and 11-year-old did,” he says. “You hear the word ‘cancer’ and you think horrible things.”
But fortunately for Deringer, he was diagnosed in the early stages of his illness, something he credits to his recovery and survival.
“I mean there are some real survivors out there who have really battled cancer and I don’t fall into that category because I caught mine so very early and feel very fortunate because of it,” he says.
From Patient to Health Advocate
Deringer decided to pay it forward by working with The Movember Foundation, a men’s health group he was introduced to through a group of co-workers.
“There were a couple of young guys in my office, before I was diagnosed, who talked to me about Movember and about growing a mustache and I kind of laughed at the idea [and said] ‘That’s not for me, but you guys go do it, and that’s a great thing that you’re doing.’ A year later, that’s when I had my diagnosis,” says Deringer.
Shortly thereafter, Caulley grew a mustache, the token symbol of a Movember supporter, and used it as an ice breaker to share more about his illness.
“You grow the mustache and people will ask you, ‘Hey Caulley, why are you growing the mustache?’ because it doesn’t look very good on me. I stand out, but I am able to tell the story and make people more aware of their own health,” he says.
“Numerous friends have come to me and said, ‘I never would have gone to get a physical without you telling me your story or ‘I check my PSA at least twice a year now and I don’t want it to be a surprise. So, from that stand point I’m just really happy with the amount of outreach the organization has had, that I’ve been able to have a little bit of a part in that.”
The Top 10%
Caulley is now healthy, strong and in the top 10 percent of Movember fundraisers in the U.S., raising 10s of thousands of charitable dollars for men’s health organizations in the six years since he was diagnosed.
“No man should die of prostate cancer. If caught early, it’s almost 100 percent curable,” says Deringer. “It’s when people aren’t diligent and don’t pay attention that they get into maybe their middle age and think ‘I’m still an Iron Man and I don’t need to go and things will be fine and I feel great, so everything’s gotta be great.’