August 13, 2019
For 52 years, Bill Daniels has been a Kansas City Chiefs season ticket holder. When he takes the field as a Chiefs Coin Toss Captain, it will be an exciting first for this loyal fan.
Bill Daniels enjoys good competition. Whether watching Army football, the Kansas City Chiefs, KU basketball, Royals baseball or just challenging himself at the gym and in backyard games with family, he loves the thrill of a suitable matchup.
As a U.S. Navy veteran, Bill also understands the training athletes need to prepare for competition. When his routine prostate-specific antigen screening revealed elevated numbers, and medications did not help, he followed up with an MRI in April 2018. The scan confirmed prostate cancer. He knew he needed to prepare for battle.
Fighting spirit after prostate cancer diagnosis
Bill does not shy away from a challenge. During the height of the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the Navy, where he specialized in naval communications and procedures to track enemy ships. He worked with a host of construction clients during his more than 30-year career with U.S. Engineering Company, a Kansas City mechanical construction firm. He previously overcame throat cancer and skin cancer. And he raised 3 sons with Jan, his wife of 45 years.
“The first step was to find out more about what we were dealing with,” he says. “Instead of getting down and discouraged, I wanted to get the problem addressed and find the best way to fix it.”
He enlisted Jan, whom he refers to as his “battle buddy.” She began to research surgical and nonsurgical treatment options.
A family friend recommended Bill visit The University of Kansas Cancer Center for a consult. Here, the couple met with William Parker, MD, urologic surgical oncologist. From the start, they were impressed with the physician’s knowledge of Bill’s case and medical history.
“He spent over an hour with us, and we never felt hurried,” Bill recalls. “He knew everything about my records and oncology report and gave an extremely detailed explanation of the surgical options. He was just an exceptional and compassionate communicator. I walked out of that office saying I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that I wanted surgery and wanted Dr. Parker to perform it.”
Dr. Parker remembers Bill’s energy and commitment to health.
“My initial impression was that Bill was an extremely healthy person who had taken great care of himself,” Dr. Parker says. “This made it so anything he wanted to do was an option for him. All too often we see men not having taken care of themselves, and this makes certain options not viable or safe even if they are better for cancer care.”
Innovative surgery for prostate cancer
Dr. Parker recommended Bill have a Retzius-sparing radical prostatectomy – a new approach to an existing robotic surgery. During the leading-edge procedure, the surgeon approaches the prostate from below rather than above the bladder, making it possible to remove the prostate while leaving other anatomy in place.
Dr. Parker has been performing the procedure for about 6 months and has observed substantial improvements to incontinence rates. About 75% of patients receiving the Retzius-sparing procedure regain urinary control within a week of their catheter being removed – a milestone that traditionally takes about 6 months to achieve.
Bill wholeheartedly trusted Dr. Parker’s expertise. On June 22, he had the minimally invasive procedure. After one night in the hospital, he was able to go home.
And even though Bill refers to his recovery as “uncomfortable” and “tough,” he looked at it as just another challenge. By his 2-week follow-up appointment, he was asking when he could get back in the gym.
“We had a lot of conversations about boundaries and what he could and could not do,” says Dr. Parker. “He had such a healthy mindset and really wanted to put the work into getting back in shape, so I really had to stress the importance of waiting a while longer for many things.”
Positive prostate cancer prognosis
Bill’s recovery continues, and his prognosis is good, Dr. Parker says. His cancer was contained to the prostate, so the surgery was able to eliminate it. He will follow up with periodic PSA screenings and routine physician exams to ensure he stays healthy.
“If anything else comes along, we will deal with it,” Bill says. “I’m under Dr. Parker’s exceptional care, I have the support of my wife and family and the power of prayer. I have full confidence that I’m going to come through this experience with flying colors.”
A tradition of service
As Bill takes the field before the Kansas City Chiefs game this Veterans Day, fans, players, officials and others will pay tribute to his military service and recognize the battle waged in his cancer journey.
It is a salute to his military service and to the tradition he has passed along to his children. His sons Clay and Curt both attended The United States Military Academy at West Point and played Army football. Clay served 10 years as a major in the infantry and as a Special Forces A-Team HALO commander with 5 deployments, including 3 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Curt served more than 6 years as a captain in the infantry. After serving 13 months as a rifle platoon leader in Ramadi during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he received injuries that brought him home to Walter Reed Medical Center. After multiple surgeries and recovering at home, Curt returned to active duty at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“I truly feel our military people can’t be thanked enough for the selfless service they give every day in peacetime and wartime for the protection and freedom of our country,” Bill says. “I’m humbled to be a part of this group.”