JONESPORT – In 1996, Wendy Newell Dyer’s life was turned upside down when her husband, Bill, was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Unfortunately, it was in an incurable stage,” Wendy said. “He was given two-to-four years when he was first diagnosed, but he actually lived ten and a half years.”
Instantly, Wendy turned from a young happy mother of three to a caretaker and researcher of a disease often left out of conversation, especially for men in their forties.
“He probably could have been diagnosed in earlier stages and, more than likely, would still be alive,” she added. “You know, a lot of people think of older men, but it hits younger men.”
That stigma, along with the prostate being in a sensitive area, means men are waiting longer and longer before getting screened. After Bill passed away, following over ten years of fighting, Wendy’s pain turned into her passion.
“I wanted to tell his story,” she said. “That’s what I promised him when he died.”
And so she wrote it all down; her pain, and her love for Bill. She submitted it to the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s new contest called, “TRUE love,” championed by actress Kristen Bell, and aimed at recognizing caregivers. Among hundreds of submissions, Wendy’s story won.
“I remember the day it came through,” Colleen McKenna, the Foundtion’s marketing director beamed. “I actually sat there and cried because it was so heartfelt and beautiful and authentic.”
And Bell, whose father-in-law is battling the disease himself, honored Wendy and her story, and is sending gifts from Hollywood to Jonesport. But for Wendy, the real reward is being able to reach others before it’s too late.
“It’s almost 11 years since he died,” she said. “But his story still has the ability to touch people, and that’s kind of a humbling experience.”
Wendy’s full, award-winning story can be found at the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s website.