John McDonald: Began "Cut for the Cure"
13 years ago to raise money for cancer research.
On the list of worst nightmares, what John and Ginny McDonald were facing must rank at the top. Ginny had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and given just six months to live. Then John found out he had prostate cancer. In his sixties at the time, he went to see urologists at hospitals in his hometown of Philadelphia and didn't like the odds the doctors were quoting for urinary continence and potency. "They gave me an 80 percent chance of having continence but only a 50 percent chance of maintaining potency," he recalls. "I said, 'I'm just not ready for that.' One doctor said, 'That's just the way it is.'
There we were, my wife's fighting breast cancer, I've got prostate cancer, my head's spinning." Then he read Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer, and came to Johns Hopkins for a second opinion. He met with urologist Jonathan Jarow, M.D., and instantly "felt I had spoken to a man who knows what he's talking about." Jarow (who has left Johns Hopkins to join his wife in Washington, D.C., where he now works for the Food and Drug Administration) told McDonald that his odds of maintaining continence and potency were 80-80. "I said, 'Sign me up,'" McDonald says. After surgery, Jarow came to visit. "He just didn't stand there and talk to me, he sat on my bed.
I just felt so comfortable." McDonald also had peace of mind because the staff at the Brady made arrangements for all of Ginny's records to be transferred to Johns Hopkins. "So that worry was just taken off of me. If something had happened to her, then Johns Hopkins would have taken care of my wife. I knew she was taken care of, and that left me with only one thing to concentrate on, getting healthy.
"There we were, my wife's fighting breast cancer,
I've got prostate cancer, my head's spinning."
Even better, Ginny beat all the odds, and lived for nine and a half more years. "She was one of the ones they call a five-percenter. They last longer than anyone can expect." Ginny endured grueling treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, then lived to see her daughter get married, and to see her first grandson. "She saw what she wanted to see in life. She got most of her bucket wishes done."
The first year past Ginny's six-month diagnosis – 13 years ago – John McDonald decided to pass on his blessings. "I thought, ‘God's been good to me, through the knowledge he gave these doctors. I'm going to give to the hospitals for other people to get blessed the way I have been." McDonald, who owns hair salons, began "Cut for the Cure" in Philadelphia. The money raised goes to support prostate cancer research at Johns Hopkins and breast cancer research at Fox Chase in Philadelphia. Held every October, this event has raised $22,700 so far for prostate cancer research at the Brady. All gifts to "Cut for the Cure" are tax deductible.
"John McDonald is a wonderful, caring man," says Brady Director Alan W. Partin, M.D., Ph.D., "whose desire to give back has helped a lot of people."
McDonald says he tries to achieve balance in his life. "You've got to give back. You can't just keep making withdrawals."