Freiderich Duerr spent the bulk of his career surrounded by laughter. He worked as the hairdresser for The Royal Canadian Air Farce for years, and from his friendly demeanor, it’s no stretch to see him as part of the comedic landscape. An avid entertainer himself (albeit on the homefront) Freiderich was always hosting parties and serving up favourite cocktails. But when he received the news that he had prostate cancer, all the joy came to a screeching halt.
Like anyone in his shoes, Freiderich carefully considered his options, eventually opting for radiation therapy at Sunnybrook. Radiation can be an effective and relatively non-invasive way to treat men, and candidates are typically older and not fit for surgery. But it is time consuming. Freiderich’s treatment was once daily, Monday to Friday, for eight weeks. As one oncologist explained, the fatigue many men experience with radiation may have a lot to do with having to face their cancer so physically day in and day out. Radiation works on the principle of energy damaging the DNA of cancer cells, and is done daily to achieve that goal while allowing healthy cells to repair in the meantime.
A few weeks ago, I followed Freiderich through one of his treatments, which took about ten minutes top to bottom. After changing into a hospital gown, he was positioned on the treatment table while the machine was loaded with the proper coordinates. Then, a series of beams zapped the areas needing treatment. All done, until the next day anyway. Despite the daily grind, Freiderich told me he was “very pleased” with his treatment, and even more so with the people helping him through it. He had even started cooking his favourite dishes for Sunnybrook staff. I little bit of joy was seeping back.
Having just completed his course of treatment last week, Freiderich is now hoping to focus back on the fun parts of his life again. Gardening, cooking and time with friends. What better way to celebrate getting to the end of long hard road? Wishing you all the best Freiderich!
For more information on all types of radiation therapy, check out my full patient education video on radiation therapy.