8 hours, 10 Jellyfish Stings, and 23 kilometers later…

When he told me the name of his toy manufacturing company was called, “Hot Buttered Elves,” I was intrigued.

WARNING: do not attempt this without training.

Months before swimming 23 kilometers in the Mediterranean, Dan, 57, was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, and instead of succumbing to the waves of meeting one’s fateful mortality, Dan fought even harder to persevere to Elba’s shorelines.

I’ve got to last long enough to see my kids get married.

Dan was motivated to deeper levels of determination he said he didn’t know he had after the news of prostate cancer sunk in. As a long-distance ocean swimmer, he regarded his physical conditioning as a means to mentally plunge forward.

Dan’s diagnosis came in December of 2021 after bloodwork reported a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level of 9.5, the average is 3.4 according to Dan, while experiencing symptoms of gout—arthritis, which causes inflammation of joints due to excess uric acid.

It’s a fight, it’s a battle. Just go for it.

The 23-kilometer swim across the Mediterranean from Italy to the island of Elba was scheduled for July 3rd, 2022. While looking for the best possible treatment, Dan continued to train 3 hours every day swimming the Californian currents.

However, in 6 months, Dan’s PSA levels went from 9.5 to 13.2, an indication the cancer was moving fast.

On June 22nd, 19 days before his European swim, Dan was scheduled to have a prostatectomy at Saint John’s Health Center under the care of Dr. Timothy Wilson, whose calendar was booked out for months, but miraculously an opening cleared for Dan’s surgery. Dr. Wilson is the Professor and Chair of Urology and Urologic Oncology, as well as the Program Director for Urology and Urologic Oncology Research Center of Excellence at Saint John’s Cancer Institute.

Finding Dr. Wilson took Dan months of weighing his options, “after interviewing 5 different hospital’s teams…Saint Johns was a no-brainer…it was a seamless level of care and attention.”

“8 hours, 10 jellyfish stings, 23 kilometers,” and one prostatectomy later, Dan Garr triumphantly confirms a 0 PSA level, which was ascertained on August 4th, 2022.

Listen to Dan Garr candidly talk about his cancer journey and his swim across the Mediterranean


Side Effects of a Prostatectomy

While still gaining his ability to control his incontinence, one night in Italy, Dan’s son joked during dinner, it was wrongfully funny, so much so, Dan left a wet pool on the seat- a moment Dan regaled with exuberant laughter, “what could I do?” Dan with a keen sensibility, whose decisions have kept him grounded, who still laughs and jokes about life’s unexpectedness, would not let the temporary effects of his prostatectomy deter him from thriving.

In his testimonial, Dan addresses the realities of having a robotic assisted prostatectomy (removal of the prostate); Urinary Incontinence (UI) and Erectile Dysfunction (ED). “If you can take cancer out, take it out,” Dan says, addressing an issue that many men feel unresolved about losing partial abilities to be fully intimate. Fortunately, three weeks after his surgery, Dan’s ability to control urination fully came back, and according to Dan, his ED should start to resolve itself as well. Symptoms such as UI and ED are normal and can be resolved.

Dan discloses that this decision was his as much as his wife’s; both agreed this would result in the best outcomes for them and the family, regardless of intimacy. Dan’s resolution was observed when he candidly shared he had no regrets.

A Lesion On the Rib

Even though Dan has a PSA level of 0, he still has to be treated for the lesion on his rib. He posited, “they still don’t know where that came from because cancer can move through the body without affecting the lymph nodes.”

DAN’S DOCTORS RECAP HIS CONDITION: Listen to Dr. Timothy Wislson and Dr. Przemyslaw Twardowski recap Dan’s complex case.

They saved my life, there’s no question about it, and they did it in a way that makes me want to live stronger.

Clinical Trial for Prostate Cancer Patients

White Button Mushroom Clinical Trial (Click for details)

The clinical trial will evaluate the effects of mushroom tablets on 2 different groups of prostate cancer patients.

  1. Patients with recently diagnosed, low-risk prostate cancer that does not require immediate therapy with surgery or radiation.
  2. Patients who had prior therapy for prostate cancer with surgery and/or radiation and now have evidence of cancer recurrence based on rising PSA blood test, but have no visible metastases on imaging scans.

Advice to those going through prostate cancer

Dan mentions that swimming definitively helped him get ready for surgery, “you just fight, to gain extra days, hours, whatever it’s going to take.” He adamantly believes and recommends working out to improve one’s recovery time, and how well one does with surgery, ” I think it needs to be talked about.”

About the Author

Eleanor Zeri