Life after Prostate Cancer:

Richard Steiner Sees the World with the Next Generation

Categories: Spring 2015
As a salesman, Richard Steiner had the opportunity to travel extensively. Fifteen years after recovering frm prostate cancer, he's still exploring- and now he's bringing his great-nephews along for the journey.
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A highlight of the trip: Steiner and his great-nephew Ryan Denning at the top of the Eiffel Tower with Paris and the River Seine in the background.

Fifteen years ago, Steiner went to the Mayo Clinic to get checked for colon cancer. He has a family history of the disease and knew it was important to be checked regularly. The doctors did not find colon cancer, but his PSA was elevated. Steiner had a biopsy. “To my shock and surprise, I found out that I had prostate cancer,” he said.

Steiner’s cancer was aggressive and he immediately jumped into action. He said, “I decided that I would do research and find out where I should go and what are the different kinds of treatments, to find out as much as I could.”

Making a choice

Steiner met with top doctors in prostate cancer throughout the country to discuss his options. Ultimately, he chose Dr. Catalona. Steiner said, “He explained things to me in a way that I could understand them. To me that was important. I wanted a better understanding of what was going to happen to me, what the operation would be like, and what my chances of survival would be.”

Steiner’s surgery with Dr. Catalona was successful. After his recovery, he began looking at life differently. When everyday problems arise, they have become less concerning. He said, “You know, they are really so unimportant compared to a really serious problem, compared to prostate cancer.”

Today, at age 72, he is grateful that he had a PSA test and feels he chose the right treatment. He said, “Now I’m 15 years out and I’m very fortunate that I’m okay.”

Steiner and Ryan went hiking in Dorfgastein in the Austrian Alps. Steiner described it as “one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.”

Advice for other men

Steiner hopes that the survival odds will motivate men to get annual PSA tests. “I am the best example. If you do what you’re supposed to do, the plus side is that unlike other cancers, you have a pretty good chance of being okay,” he said.

He also believes that men diagnosed with prostate cancer should find the right doctor. “If they don’t have Dr. Catalona operate on them they should pick a surgeon who’s done a lot of the surgeries- not only to cure and get to all the cancer, but for the side effects, to have a lesser chance of being affected by incontinence or impotence.”

Family traditions

As a young man, Steiner followed in the steps of his father and grandfather and joined the family’s wholesale jewelry business. “I was always involved in the business,” he said. After graduating from college he took over his father’s accounts and went out on the road. Over 30 years, he successfully expanded the business’s reach. He had clients throughout the U.S. and traveled to Europe to import merchandise. “I liked what I did and I did it well,” he said.

Parliament was among the sites Steiner and his great-nephew saw in London. © Dan Oldfield

He stopped working in 1996 and lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. “Since I’m not working I get to spend more time with my friends and family,” he said. “I’ve also been doing a lot of traveling.” Now he’s passing his love of travel to the younger generation in his family.

Educating through travel

Steiner’s family includes one brother, two nieces, four great-nephews and a great-niece. When his nieces were younger he spent quite a bit of time with them. Now he’s turned his attention to his older great-nephews: Matthew, Ryan, and Joey Denning, ages 18, 15, and 12 respectively. Steiner has taken each of them on a trip unique to their interests. He told his great-nephews, “This is part of your education.”

In 2013, Steiner took Matthew to Europe. To encourage Matthew’s interest in WWII history, he and Steiner visited several important historical sites. The highlight of the trip was Normandy. “We actually stood on the beach where the Americans, the Canadians, and the British landed. It’s a special place,” he said.

Last summer it was Ryan’s turn to see Europe with Steiner. They took the Queen Mary across the Atlantic, spent time in London and traveled throughout France and Austria. Ryan wanted to see Vienna, where Steiner’s grandfather had lived. “He was interested in his heritage,” Steiner said.

Ryan felt his great-uncle accomplished the goal of using the trip as a teaching tool. He experienced firsthand the cultural, economic, and governmental differences between the countries they visited and the U.S. Ryan said, “When you go to different countries, especially Europe because of how old it is, you want to go there and not just see the sights. You want to know their histories and how their economic systems work. Right now I’m in an economics class, and I was just in a government class. Compared to what we’re learning I’m pretty ahead thanks to my uncle and what he taught me on the trip.”

Steiner’s third great-nephew, Joey, requested a trip to see his favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. In November they went to AT&T Stadium to watch the Cowboys play the Arizona Cardinals.

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