In unexpected battle with prostate cancer, trust in God brings peace

<p>From the time he was a 4-year-old growing up in Jennings County, Jim Ochs has devoted his life to the church.</p>
<p>That lifelong faith, he says, helped to keep him calm when he was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer last year.</p>
<p>“I knew that anything that comes in life is going to be taken care of by the Lord,” said the 85-year-old Greenwood resident, who is now cancer-free. “You just have to trust him, and you have to ask him to take care of you.”</p>
<p>A generally healthy man who looks several years younger than his age, Ochs and his wife used to split their time between Indiana and Florida. In the winter of 2018, though, the couple decided that it was too much work to pack up a car every six months and sold their Florida residence.</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]
<p>When they returned to Indiana in March, Ochs went in for a checkup. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in adult males are supposed to be at 4 or below; a level between 4 and 10 indicates a 25 percent greater risk of prostate cancer. Ochs’ PSA level had increased to 17.</p>
<p>Though he wasn’t experiencing any pain or other noticeable symptoms, Ochs went to see Dr. Jeffrey Vaught at Urology of Indiana. Vaught found a growth on Ochs’ prostate and also saw another on his bladder. Biopsies indicated that both were cancerous, and Ochs said he was initially shaken by the news.</p>
<p>“My countenance just fell apart,” he said. “I’ve been pretty healthy all my life, so I labored with that for a little while.”</p>
<p>Seeking some comfort, he fell back on his faith. He spent some time reading the Bible as well as “Heaven is for Real,” a 2010 book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. Reading those put him in a better place mentally and emotionally as he prepared for his fight with cancer.</p>
<p>“I read (‘Heaven is for Real’) through, and that kind of satisfied me,” Ochs said. “I’m ready to go to heaven whenever he’s ready, but I’m not in any hurry.”</p>
<p>The bladder growth was removed surgically, but the doctor advised against a removal of the prostate growth due to Ochs’ age. So last fall, he received daily radiation treatments for nine weeks, the last one coming on Dec. 21, as well as hormone injections to shrink his prostate.</p>
<p>Ochs’ PSA level is back down to zero today.</p>
<p>Several months removed from his battle, Ochs generally feels as good as he did before treatment; the lone difference, he says, is that his energy levels are still noticeably lower. Because of that, there are certain activities that he enjoyed, such as mowing the lawn or playing golf, that he’s no longer able to do.</p>
<p>Much of his time now is spent either on his computer or caring for his wife, Mary Love Ochs, who has struggled with limited mobility since a car accident in 1957 left her with an injured hip. Through any of the setbacks he or his loved ones have faced during the years, Ochs has always been able to go back and find comfort in the same place.</p>
<p>“It’s the way I was brought up and the way I live, trusting in the Lord, that has brought me through with a decent attitude and not worrying about it,” he said.</p>[sc:pullout-title pullout-title="At a glance" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]<p><strong>What has cancer taught you?</strong></p>
<p>It probably would have taught me patience if I hadn’t been a Christian and already had that knowledge that you’ve got to do that if you’re sick. I can’t really think of anything that it taught me that I didn’t already know.</p>
<p><strong>How has cancer changed you?</strong></p>
<p>The lack of energy is my biggest thing. I like to cut my grass and I like to play golf, but I can’t really do either one of those because I wear out too quick.</p>
<p><strong>What would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed?</strong></p>
<p>The first thing I would try to do would be to lead them to the Lord. For me, that was my whole answer to getting through it. Then I would go through all the details that I went through for them, just so they wouldn’t have to experience it on their own, and tell them that it’s worked out well for me and hopefully would work out well for them.</p>[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title="The Ochs file" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]<p>Name: Jim Ochs</p>
<p>Age: 85</p>
<p>Diagnosis: Prostate and bladder cancer, diagnosed in May 2018</p>
<p>Treatment: Bladder growth removed; nine weeks of daily radiation on prostate</p>[sc:pullout-text-end]