Routine blood tests find prostate cancer early, save Vietnam veteran, former NYC police officer
by Hilary Butschek
September 04, 2014 04:00 AM | 4250 views | 1 1 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kenneth Buck, a Vietnam veteran and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer in New York City, holds up the last hat that was part of his uniform while serving on the force, which he did for 26 years. The retired officer, who lives in Kennesaw with his wife, survived prostate cancer thanks to early detection. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Kenneth Buck, a Vietnam veteran and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer in New York City, holds up the last hat that was part of his uniform while serving on the force, which he did for 26 years. The retired officer, who lives in Kennesaw with his wife, survived prostate cancer thanks to early detection.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
Prostate cancer snuck up on Kenneth Buck last year.

The Kennesaw resident was going in for routine blood tests when he received his diagnosis.

Buck said he’s lucky his doctors caught the signs of prostate cancer in its first stages.

“They found it very early,” he said. “Had I not gone to doctors, I never would have found out about it.”

When the doctors told Buck he had prostate cancer, which would need to be treated with radiation, he said cancer didn’t scare him.

Buck has a high pain tolerance, he said. At age 67, he has faced war and New York City crime. Buck said a fight with cancer wasn’t the worst he’d been in.

Buck was drafted into the Army in 1966 at the age of 18 to be an infantryman in the Vietnam War.

He wouldn’t say much about the war, settling with a simple description of his time as a specialist fourth class stationed outside of Saigon, Vietnam: “It was dangerous, and it was interesting,” he said.

When he got out of the Army in 1968, Buck went on to become a Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer in New York City in 1971.

“I always kept myself busy and active,” Buck said. “We did patrolling in vehicles, and we were on foot patrol at the stations. I did enjoy it.”

Buck worked as a police officer for 26 years before retiring to Florida, where he busied himself with odd handyman jobs.

“I did it for some senior citizens I knew down there, just to help them out,” he said.

After living in Florida for 16 years, Buck moved to Kennesaw in 2012 with his wife of 46 years, Nanette, to be closer to his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

Soon after the move, Buck was diagnosed with prostate cancer at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in February of 2013.

Because he was older than 55, Buck said his doctors advised him to undergo annual tests for prostate cancer.

The test looks for higher levels of prostate-specific antigens, which are produced at an accelerated rate by cancerous cells.

His doctors had been keeping an eye on his test results between 2011 and 2013, so when doctors broke the news, it wasn’t a surprise to him or his wife.

“When the PSA kept going up and up and up, I kind of guessed it,” Nanette Buck said.

Kenneth Buck said he didn’t let the news lower his spirits.

“It was kind of a shock in the beginning, but I endured it. I didn’t get really depressed about it. It didn’t take me down or anything,” he said.

Still, Kenneth Buck said, news his health was in jeopardy was unusual. He hadn’t experienced any health problems before.

“It was a little bit of a shock because I’d never really had any problems before, and I wasn’t really having any symptoms of (prostate cancer),” he said.

Without wasting any time, in February 2013 Kenneth Buck chose to get radiation treatment from Dr. Justin Hart, a radiation oncologist at Kennestone Hospital, to fight the cancer.

“He had some symptoms which are pretty common, and we worked with him,” Hart said. “Overall, really, he went through treatment pretty well.”

For three months, Kenneth Buck visited Kennestone Hospital every day to get radiation treatment. Usually, he said, Buck was in and out of the doctor’s office in an hour. The treatment takes seven minutes, so it wasn’t much of an inconvenience, he said.

“With the radiation treatments, there was no pain involved at all,” Kenneth Buck said. “You lay on a table and the machine moves all around you, and prior to that they put tattoo markings on your body to show where the machine needs to focus on. I didn’t have any real adverse effects from it.”

At the end of April 2013, Kenneth Buck said he was tested for the cancer again, and he was declared cancer-free.

“After (the radiation treatments), the PSA reading went down to normal,” Kenneth Buck said. “Now, I’m feeling fine.”

Nanette Buck, a retired accountant, said she was right beside her husband through the process. She went to doctor appointments, radiation treatment appointments and testing appointments with him for months.

“Your whole world is turned upside down after that,” she said.

Nanette Buck said during the months of treatment, she and her husband took advantage of every moment together.

“We just got each other through it. He was strong for me, and I was strong for him,” she said. “We always spent all of our time together. If one went to the store, the other one would go with us.”

Kenneth Buck said he always thought he’d live to be 100 years old, just like his grandfather, Harry Debold.

“Everybody always said he was like me, so I figured I’d be like him and never have health problems,” he said.

Kenneth Buck won his bout with cancer, and he said it made him more aware of his health. The win, he said, would have never been possible without the help of doctors looking out for him to help him catch the cancer in its early stages.

“You don’t know how vulnerable you are until something like that,” he said. “When I found out, I had good doctors, I felt very confident in them. The radiation staff at (Kennestone) hospital — each and every one of them were really nice people.”

Nanette Buck said she felt her husband was safe in the care of doctors who felt like family to her.

“It gives you that awakening that something can happen at any time,” Nanette Buck said. “This whole time (the Kennestone staff) held our hand through the whole process. They take their time with you.”

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Wife of Army Veteran
September 05, 2014
I'm happy this man survived! Glad he didn't rely on the VA Hosp. to take care of him.
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