By Amy McSweeney - June 18, 2023
This Father’s Day, Courtney Rosenberg’s work in oncology hits closer to home. She understands firsthand the toll cancer can take on a family.
In 2006, her dad, Scott, had his prostate-specific antigen levels tested “on a whim” at age 42. PSA blood levels are usually elevated in men who have prostate cancer. The family was devastated when he was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer.
Courtney, then 13, recalls being called to the principal’s office to be told the news.
“I don’t think I really grasped what I was being told. At that age you don’t really understand what’s going on or how serious it is. It was much more advanced than I had understood at the time,” Courtney said. “I was so young; I would just walk with him around the house to do what I could to help.”
Fast forward 10 years to 2016, when doctors found a small cell growth in Scott’s left kidney. Then just three years later, Scott’s prostate cancer returned after 13 years of undetectable readings. That made three cancer battles for a man who never stopped fighting alongside a family that never let him quit.
“I’m probably only still alive because of my wife’s insistence that I have that PSA test 17 years ago, and she was a tremendous support through every battle,” Scott said.
Scott has undergone surgery, laparoscopic cryoablation, hormone therapy and proton beam radiation. He knows he will never be fully cured but considers himself an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of guy. He recognizes how fortunate he is to still be here.
Courtney turned the passion she found walking with her dad around the house as a teen into a career. Now a BMT nurse at Moffitt Cancer Center, she escorts her dad to his appointments.
She says her favorite part about the job is getting to know the patients, hearing their stories and helping them through their journey — just as she has done for her dad.
“It’s very difficult being a caregiver. They take on so much and they put themselves to the side,” Courtney said. “The advice I would give is to give yourself the grace to process what you need, don’t be too hard on yourself and just be there in whatever capacity you can.”
Today, with no active treatments on the calendar, Scott loves playing competitive baseball, traveling and throwing axes with his kids. They’ve traveled to Germany, Austria and Hawaii.
For patients who face a cancer journey, Scott adds, “Stay positive, stay active, have a strong support system and never, ever give up.”