Dan's Story: Settling the Score With Prostate Cancer

Agnesian Cancer Care
Dan Cancer Patient Story

“I remember my mother taking me to all my little league games and going to the playgrounds. That’s when life was fun and easy back in the ‘60s,” says Dan Wirtz. 

Throughout his childhood in Fond du Lac, Dan played baseball, softball, basketball and bowling (he bowled his first 300 at the Elk’s Club with his dad and brothers standing by).

When marriage and family took center stage, he turned to golf as his sport of choice. “Life was good,” says Dan. 

But, stomach pains and a family history of cancer prompted Dan to go to a Living Smart Cancer Screening in April 2013 at the Agnesian Cancer Center. He had a simple blood test, called a PSA, to help detect early prostate cancer.

Elevated prostate blood test results sent Dan to David Maruska, MD, who serves as his primary care physician at Agnesian HealthCare. From there, a biopsy was performed by the urology team at Agnesian HealthCare. Biopsies are helpful as not all high PSA levels indicate the presence of cancer.

It was on December 23, 2013 that Dan learned he had prostate cancer. “My wife Chris and I had to tell our daughters, Kelly and Tiffany, the bad news. Not an easy thing to do; their strong dad had cancer,” he recalls.

Dan’s prostate was promptly removed in January 2014, followed by a referral to Michael Vander Kooy, MD, a radiation oncologist at the Agnesian Cancer Center. But before radiation treatments began, Dan had a colonoscopy, which revealed a narrowing in the colon from diverticulitis (inflammation in the colon wall). It required that Toni Stanley, MD, a general surgeon, perform surgery to remove a foot of Dan’s colon. 

After recovering from that surgery, he was ready to tackle 39 radiation treatments prescribed by Dr. Vander Kooy. “Dan is a very appreciative and kind patient,” says Dr. Vander Kooy. His radiation treatments ended on December 17, 2014.

“What a year,” says Dan. “With the help of my loving wife and kids, we made it. Now I have things I want to do in life: see my great grandkids, Kole and Kamryn, graduate and get married; get a hole-in-one; and see my beloved Cubs win the World Series, which should keep me alive for a long time.”

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