Prostate cancer led lawyer to write

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Like a character in the movie Platoon, Terry Leiden once thought that if he survived the Vietnam War, the rest of life would be a breeze.

Attorney Terry Leiden, 67, of Augusta, is a prostate cancer survivor who wrote a book, Get Back in the Game, about it.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Attorney Terry Leiden, 67, of Augusta, is a prostate cancer survivor who wrote a book, Get Back in the Game, about it.

But 12 years ago, he said, he felt as though he was dodging bullets again when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"It's an incredible shock. Boom. It happens," Mr. Leiden said.

But when Mr. Leiden went in search of information to help him understand what he would face, he only found dry textbooks by physicians. There were few resources available on the topic compared to those for women who develop breast cancer, despite the fact that a similar percentage of men will get prostate cancer.

So he wrote his own book, Get Back in the Game. It's a work of fiction based on real men with prostate cancer in real circumstances with blunt talk of medical procedures.

It took several years to get the book published, Mr. Leiden said.

"Why would anybody be interested in writing about an old guy dying of cancer in Augusta?" was one response.

It is not a death sentence, but the diagnoses can feel that way. According to the American Cancer Society, 99 percent of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer will survive at least five years.

Mr. Leiden points to several famous men who retired or temporarily dropped out of sight after learning they had prostate cancer -- former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But golf legend Arnold Palmer came back after treatment, Mr. Leiden said.

Many men don't want anyone to know they have cancer, because they might lose jobs, insurance coverage, friends and acquaintances, Mr. Leiden said.

Maybe because he was younger than most men when he was diagnosed, Mr. Leiden refused to give in to despair. And he wants to tell others not to give up.

He would like to see cancer treatment centers handing out copies of his book to men diagnosed with prostate cancer. And he would like to see others writing about the subject, Mr. Leiden said.

Men are reluctant to talk about their health, Mr. Leiden said. And most men won't be diagnosed during a regular physical exam.

"Not one guy in that whole book found out about it that way," Mr. Leiden said. Like one of his characters, who are composites, he was diagnosed after he got hit in the groin with a softball.

Mr. Leiden said he started asking other men at his doctor's office to share their stories. "Everyone has a story."

Mr. Leiden was able to pull other anecdotes and stories from his law practice. Representing people in bankruptcy taught him how workers' compensation and insurance can fail when they're needed the most.

And having gone through the treatment himself, Mr. Leiden is able to write realistically about the physical and emotional changes. And playing in the senior softball league helped him feature the game as a major plot.

Playing softball is important to Mr. Leiden. He scheduled his treatment so he would be able to finish out the 1996 season.

Mr. Leiden's team is the Triumph 65s.

"Every time we walk onto the field is a triumph right there," Mr. Leiden said.

Get Back in the Game is published by Harbor House and sells for $16.95.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

TERRY LEIDEN

AGE: 67

OCCUPATION: Augusta attorney; author of Get Back in the Game, a book about dealing with prostate cancer

FAMILY: Married for 41 years Tuesday; father of three sons

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younameit
216
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younameit 05/05/08 - 05:46 am
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Terry Leiden was a local hero

Terry Leiden was a local hero long before he wrote a book. We should all emulate his faith, family and professional values. I can't wait to get this book.

aaa
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aaa 05/05/08 - 08:13 am
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Does anyone know if he plans

Does anyone know if he plans any local book signings?

DMac_357
1
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DMac_357 05/05/08 - 09:22 am
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We just had Pastor John

We just had Pastor John Harmon from the Mt. Enon Baptist Church come to our church to talk about prostate cancer. This topic has been coming up a lot lately and hopefully men are listening.

mickeymoose
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mickeymoose 05/05/08 - 09:42 am
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My wish would be that more

My wish would be that more men would go to the doctor more often and get checked. As written , My dad only found out that he had prostate cancer when he went in for knee injury. My dad died in 2006 , if only he would have went in to be checked soon I might would still have him here today. Please all you fathers out there get checked for your children.

vermint
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vermint 05/05/08 - 01:11 pm
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My husband just happened to

My husband just happened to be at an outdoor show in Columbia where there was a free screening booth. It had never been there before, and hasn't been there again in the two years since. Anyway, he got tested and his PSA was high. After a biopsy came back positive for prostate cancer, he underwent radiation treatment 5 days a week for 42 weeks. Two years later, all continues well. Men...get tested!!!

itsme2
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itsme2 05/05/08 - 02:33 pm
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Terry Leiden's next signing

Terry Leiden's next signing is at The Book Tavern on Broad Street on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. He's had a signing already at Borders, and likely he'll have another one soon.

The Knave
24
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The Knave 05/05/08 - 02:45 pm
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RE: "But when Mr. Leiden

RE: "But when Mr. Leiden went in search of information to help him understand what he would face, he only found dry textbooks by physicians." I have been reading an excellent book on the subject, that was written by a physician-researcher at Columbia University. It is certainly not a "dry textbook," granted that it was published in 2006. It provides a thorough review of "conventional" and holistic therapies. The title is "Dr. Katz's Guide to Prostate Health" by Aaron E. Katz, M.D. Most interestingly, he provides some solid ideas for preventive measures that can be taken, rather just relying on some pretty drastic "therapies" once a problem is found. The facts are that nearly every male will eventually encounter prostate problems (if he lives long enough), that 17% of them will develop prostate cancer (31,000 Americans die each year from it), and that prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent survivable is detected early and treated appropriately. As with most diseases, one's dietary habits and lifestyle can be big factors. The usual suspects are in evidence including consumption of meat, dairy products and highly processed pseudo-foods of all sorts. You are what you eat.

stphmnt
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stphmnt 05/05/08 - 05:22 pm
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my husband went for a regular

my husband went for a regular checkup at 39 yrs of age and 2 weeks later the doctor called to tell us that he thought my husband had cancer. What a shock but we have managed to carry on and would have loved someone to talk to then besides
80 yr old men. Its a much different cancer in a younger man/ but that was five years ago last week and he is doing well. Its nice to hear someone has taken interest in a disease 1 out of three men will have in a lifetime.

itsme2
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itsme2 05/06/08 - 01:21 pm
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I just found out Terry has a

I just found out Terry has a signing at Surrey Center Pharmacy on Thursday, May 15, from 3 to 5 p.m. I hope my information helps!

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