Prostate cancer survivor returns to MD Anderson to spread cheer
Bryan Bump knows the importance of annual physicals. They’ve saved his life -- twice.
In August 2011, Bryan, then 49, underwent a physical exam through his employer’s wellness program so that he could get a discount on his health insurance premium.
“The doctor wanted to check my PSA levels because my father had prostate cancer,” he says. “I did not want to have the test, but I did it because she was very persuasive.”
A prostate cancer diagnosis
The results left him in disbelief.
“She told me my PSA levels were elevated, and she wanted to refer me to another place for a second opinion,” he says. “I told her I wanted to go through MD Anderson because of its reputation for being a center of excellence for cancer.”
“They took everything out except for a dirty spot that they couldn’t touch because it was in a sensitive area. They decided to leave it alone and closely monitor it,” he says.
A prostate cancer recurrence
Bryan showed no evidence of disease for three years. Then, in September 2014, a blood test during another annual physical revealed the presence of prostate-specific antigens. Bryan returned to MD Anderson and learned that his prostate cancer had returned.
“I was the first appointment in the morning so I could avoid the traffic coming out of Richmond, and I could be home before 7:30 in the morning and still have my whole day,” he says.
During one of his late November appointments, Bryan saw Bill, an MD Anderson volunteer he’d befriended, decorating the radiation center for the holidays by himself. It was the only day Bryan’s wife, Carrie, hadn’t accompanied him to treatment.
“Bill was so disappointed. He was hoping Carrie would be there to help him because she loves decorating for the holidays,” Bryan says.
Decking the halls to give back
Bryan went home and told Carrie that he’d like them to take over the holiday decorations. In December 2015, a year after Bryan completed his prostate cancer treatment, the Bumps returned to MD Anderson in Sugar Land and decorated the entire first floor.
“The employees were so excited,” Bryan says. “Employees from the other floors kept mentioning how they’d love to see more of our decorations. I told Carrie we had to expand to the other two floors the following year.”
So Carrie held a donation drive to collect more decorations and created a Facebook group to recruit the help of family, friends and neighbors. By December 2016, the Bumps had amassed hundreds of decorations and united a handful of volunteers who wanted to join their effort.
“No one can have a good day every day, but the employees at MD Anderson, they’re always having a good day. If they’re having a bad day, they never show it to the patients,” Bryan says. “This is a way to give back to employees and also to give to the patients that are coming after me.”
The smiles and gratitude that result from the Bumps’ decorations still move Bryan to tears.
“They say, ‘Thank you,’ and that’s plenty,” he says.
An inspiration for others
That’s not the only good that’s come out of Bryan’s diagnosis. He says he’s also inspired his colleagues to become more proactive about their health.
“Put your pride aside and get your annual physical,” he tells them. “If you wait till something's wrong and you need to go to the doctor, it could be too late.”