BURNHAM - When Christopher Bishop, of Burnham, started experiencing pain in his leg late last year, he thought he had a pinched nerve. After all, he was otherwise healthy, young and active. He was employed by Schindler Elevator Company and enjoyed riding his motorcycle in his free time.
While doctors ran a variety of tests and scans, Bishop waited for an answer to his pain. Surprisingly, test after test produced normal results. The medical team didn't find anything out of the ordinary.
"They didn't have a clue what was going on," Bishop said.
Photo submitted by MANDY SEITZ
Christopher Bishop, of Burnham, was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer in March. His family is hosting a benefit dance to raise funds for his continued pain management therapy and medical care.
By that time, he knew something wasn't right. In March, a bone biopsy confirmed his fears, and Bishop was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer. The cancer was in its most advanced stage and had already spread to other areas of his body.
The news was devastating, he said, especially since he was expecting an entirely different diagnosis. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation website, more than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. Bishop is only 39, and the youngest case his doctor has seen in 20 years.
Since his diagnosis, Bishop has endured four weeks of radiation therapy and two months of hormone therapy in an effort to slow the cancer's growth. Despite the best efforts of his medical team, he recently learned that the cancer was not responding to treatment and doctors were shifting their focus to pain relief and management.
"It's a lot to be thrown at you," Mandy Seitz, Bishop's girlfriend, said.
On most days, the most difficult thing for Bishop is dealing with debilitating pain. He is rarely able to leave the house and spends most of his time at home.
"I go from six months ago feeling a little pain to, at times, being barely able to move," he said.
Even after all he has been through, Bishop remains hopeful about his future.
"(I have to) keep having hope. Hope somewhere along the line, something changes," he said.
In the meantime, Bishop cherishes the time he is able to spend with his friends, family and 13-year-old daughter, Sierra.
"I was surprised how many people have just been supportive," he said, though he is thankful to those who have offered a helping hand.
"The people who care about you get you through the hard times," he said. "It takes having people there by your side to get through a lot of this."
While he copes with his illness, Bishop has been laid off of work and faces increasing medical expenses and financial difficulty. At this time, he takes about nine types of medication each day and has been admitted to the hospital twice for pain treatment. In a little over a month, Bishop's medical insurance coverage will run out.
Despite his struggles, Bishop and his family are determined to make the most of their time together. Seitz has organized a benefit dance for Bishop and invites the public to join them to celebrate life and enjoy a night of dancing, food and beverages. The dance will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 1 at the Burnham Lions Club. There is a suggested donation of $10, which will benefit Bishop's continued medical care and pain management therapy.
For those who cannot attend the dance, an account has been set up in Bishop's name at the Juniata Valley Bank. To donate, checks can be made out to Christopher Bishop Special Account and dropped off at the bank's Burnham location or mailed to The Juniata Valley Bank, P.O. Box 176, Burnham, PA, 17009.
Donations can also be mailed directly to Christopher S. Bishop, P.O. Box 32, Burnham, PA 17009.