You have cancer. Those three words have changed my life forever.

Gordon Decker (right) and his son Brandon, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a firefighter/EMT. PHOTO / Decker Family

When I was asked to write about my battle with advanced stage 4 prostate cancer, I wondered why anyone want to know about my story. There are so many people fighting their own battle with cancer; I am not special by any means.

I don’t do Facebook or Twitter. I try to keep my personal life to myself. But for whatever reason, G-d has given me a second chance at life. And so here’s my story.

It Was March 2011…

My son Brandon and his fiancé were in Roswell to plan their wedding. I didn’t feel right, but I said nothing. You could see the excitement on their faces as the kids chose a venue and talked about what they had to do before their wedding day.

A few days later, I went to see my physician. My doctor immediately ordered some tests, and off to the hospital I went. Less than an hour later, I was driving to meet my wife and other family members for a birthday celebration.

It was then that my phone rang. On the other end was my doctor telling me he had some bad news. I laughed and said, “Yeah, right.”

What could be so bad? After all, I worked out regularly and tried to eat healthy.

“Gordon,” he said, “I think you have cancer.”

My first thought was, “No way.”

I told my doctor it was not a good time for me; I was working two jobs and had a wedding to look forward to.

Thank goodness I didn’t run off the road.

Imagine what it was like to show up at the family birthday party and try to pretend everything was normal. My wife knew, though; she could see it in my face, and she kept asking me if I was okay. I said, “Sure!” and that I would tell her about my test results after the party.

But I was thinking:

Cancer. Why me? Why now?  

I felt even worse for my wife. Her only sister has been battling stage 4 cancer; the doctors gave her six months to live.

But that was four-and-a-half years ago. She has lived to see three grandchildren born and plans to be at my son’s wedding this month.

Then, in April 2011…

I underwent a biopsy and waited for the results. It seemed like time had come to a standstill. How long does it take to find out?

It was just a few days. Again, I was driving, and the phone rings – on my sister’s birthday, no less. The biopsy results are in, and cancer is confirmed.

I felt so alone. What was worse, I had to call my sister on her birthday and tell her the news: I learned a long time ago that one does not hide anything from my older sister.

There were so many things going through my mind. I was a nervous wreck, but I had to focus on what I had to do next.

At that point, I had spent 35 years the fire department in my community. My job was to answer calls and help people in distress. After my diagnosis, I had to retire from active duty and put my house up for sale. I realized that cancer was about to change my life forever.

I found it to be a very cold experience to be herded into an examine room, my wife present, both of us waiting for the doctor. He walked in, went over the biopsy results and told me the cancer had already spread. One option he offered was to remove my bladder and put me on a bag the rest of my life.

I never went back to that doctor again. I learned there were other options and now would suggest to everyone to always get more than one medical opinion. Do your homework, I say!

I researched my problem on the Internet, I spoke to others who had cancer and survived, and I asked for the names of their doctors and if they liked them. I also found out who my true friends really were.

Some people do not know how to act around someone who has been diagnosed with cancer; they just disappear. How unfortunate. If it weren’t for some very special people that stuck with me through this, I would not be writing this article today.

As for fighting the disease, I chose to think outside the box. In addition to traditional cancer treatment, I listened to my chiropractor/nutritionist, who suggested I go see a naturopathic doctor.

I chose hope over despair. I chose prayer. I chose a positive attitude. I chose to be around friends and family who are supportive of my efforts. And, I had to keep a very important promise:

I told my son that I would be at his wedding.

Fast-forward to 2012…

So, what has worked for me?

I’ve based my efforts on the fact that there are two things which are bad for cancer – stress and sugar. Thus, I work hard to reduce the stresses in my life, I gave up sugar in favor of Stevia.

In fact, I am on an alkaline diet: No sugar, no grains, and no dairy. I eat organic foods whenever possible, I stay away from processed foods and work very hard to keep my immune system at 100 percent.

It is not cheap to live this way, but the rewards are many, not the least of which that I have been in remission for over a year now.

Two websites, alkalizeforhealth.net and mercola.com, have had an impact on my life and the decisions I’ve made. I think they offer a path to a healthier life.

Good luck with your own journey.

BY GORDON DECKER / FOR THE ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES