For the last several days I have been in Arizona. I was there to support my brother who was having prostate surgery due to cancer. I asked him if I could share his story, and he said yes. In fact, as is his nature, he wanted to share his story to help others.

My brother, 61, went to a normally scheduled appointment for his prostate screening. He was told by his doctor that he needed a core needle biopsy. They found cancer but he was told it was low grade and at first he was told it barely registered as cancer. He was told to go home and come back in a couple of months. He called me and said he was having a difficult time knowing there was cancer in his body. He went back, and this time my son and I were able to be on the phone with the doctor when my brother received updated results. The cancer had grown and although still a low grade it was growing. He was told he could wait or have the surgery. While on the phone we all decided surgery was the best option.

On Friday he had that surgery in Tucson and on Wednesday his doctor called him to let him know there was much more cancer than they had originally thought. Luckily it was contained within the prostate, and he is now cancer-free. The doctor also said the decision to have surgery and not to wait was absolutely the right thing to do. But even more important is that my brother had regular screenings for prostate cancer. If he didn’t have these tests it would have certainly spread and we would be facing a completely different future.

My brother, and his partner, wanted me to encourage men not to miss their regular prostate screening and in fact everyone should have any cancer screenings that are suggested. Do not wait; do not think if you let it go a couple of months or a year that it will be fine. And don’t let work or anything in your schedule get in your way of getting screenings and following up with your doctor.

Because of his proactive decision, my brother will be around to drive me crazy for many years to come and (please don’t tell him) but I now look forward to his phone calls sharing Iowa small town news about people I have never heard of or giving me an update on the latest reality show characters.

This story had a very happy ending but the journey to his surgery was not easy. Living with the “what ifs” was not easy and has consumed my every thought for several months since we first heard the word “cancer.” My family is very close and what happens to one happens to all. I am so grateful that my brother acted quickly, despite being afraid of the results and that he wants to share his story in hopes of saving the life of someone who needs to get a prostate screening.

The day he was released from the hospital, it snowed in his Arizona small town located about an hour outside of Tucson. And when I say snow, I mean real snow. The saguaros had snow covering them. The streets were slick and at one point as I drove to the hospital I was in a white-out, not able to see any vehicles around me. The drivers on the small highways were great. They drove slowly, but once on the interstate to Tucson drivers were either traveling at 10 mph or 80 mph. I grew up driving in snow but it has been awhile since I have. It came back to me but holy cats! Those big rigs that continued to drive at 80 mph or 85 mph were a lot to deal with.

As I was driving to the hospital, an hour drive that lasted almost four hours due to the snow, my family went to Tombstone – the town too tough to die. They walked the wooden sidewalks that were covered in snow and my grandson got to have a short but exciting snowball fight.

My brother and his partner live in the Chihuahuan Desert. It is the largest desert in North America. This high desert is above 3,500 feet so its cacti, agave and creosote get a bit of frost in the winter months though wildflowers grow in warmer parts of the year, according to Visit Arizona.

The snow stuck on the ground for most of the morning then quickly melted as the temperatures rose. I am basically allergic to everything that grows in Arizona so I am not a big fan of the desert; however, when it snowed those allergies seemed to subside. So though the roads were a little dicey, for the first time in the desert I could breathe.

No snow is in the forecast for us but there is more rain predicted. According to NOAA, after a warm up on Friday up to 71 degrees, there is a chance of showers beginning on Saturday night and continuing through Sunday. Monday there is a higher chance of rain that continues into Tuesday.

For more information on prostate cancer and screening, visit