Exclusive interview: WWE Hall of Famer Bret ‘Hit Man’ Hart on his battle with prostate cancer and the importance of early detection
WWE.com reported the story, accompanied by well wishes from WWE Superstars, alumni, Hall of Famers and even The World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden.
Hart followed up with another post from his hospital bed surrounded by his family following surgery on Feb. 12 at Rockyview General Hospital in his native Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This week, WWE.com reached out to the WWE Hall of Famer to get an update on his condition.
WWE.COM: First and foremost, how are you feeling right now?
BRET HART: I’m actually feeling pretty good. I’m still a little sore in the abdominal area where I have five puncture holes about the size of a pencil in my stomach that make it hard to sit up. The incision they made was pretty small, only an inch-and-a-half to two inches long. For the most part, as compared to other surgeries, you can get back on your feet pretty quick. I got the thumbs–up from my doctor that I should have a smooth and steady recovery for the next few months. I won’t be running any mountains, and I can’t lift anything over 10 pounds. All I can do is sit around. Thank God for WWE Network. I’ve been watching a lot of it.
WWE.COM: When were you diagnosed with prostate cancer, and how soon after did you have surgery?
HART: Over the years, I’ve always had regular physicals and exams. At my age, you should be getting checked regularly, and I made a point of doing it. In 2013, I had elevated PSA levels and I had to do a biopsy, and they found cancer in my prostate. They told me then that it was considered a slow growing cancer and they placed me on what they call “active surveillance” and I repeated the PSA test, which is just blood work, and then got another biopsy a bit later on.
In June of 2015, my PSA level had doubled and another biopsy found that the cancer was indeed growing. After a consultation with my doctor, the decision was made to go in for a robotic prostectomy. We set the date for Feb, 10; it wasn’t a rush.
WWE.COM: What did you do in the meantime?
HART: My doctor stressed to me that it was important to be in as good as physical condition as possible, so I took a lot of time to train and get in the best shape I could, especially the last few months where I did a lot of cardio on my stationary bike. I prepared myself mentally and physically as best I could.
WWE.COM: Did you have any major concerns?
HART: There can be a lot of complications, but I put all my faith in my doctors. They are getting better and better at this surgery all the time, and I chose the robotic surgery where the surgeon works through a computer and very carefully removes your prostate while sparing as many nerves as possible. Once they remove the prostate, which for most men is the size of a ping pong ball, they have to sew everything together.
WWE.COM: How grueling was the surgery for you?
HART: All surgeries are tough, and I would say that is as tough a surgery that I have ever gone through. I was mentally, emotionally and physically prepared for surgery and I was surprised when they told me three days later that I could go home. I had to come home with a catheter for another two weeks, but other than that and the soreness in my abdomen, I feel good. It’s hard to move around, sneeze or cough. I feel like I was in a knife fight with Mr. Fuji and I lost. At the same time, I had a good and positive recovery.
I feel like I was in a knife fight with Mr. Fuji and I lost.
WWE.COM: Why did you decide to go public about your diagnosis?
HART: I had a lot of reservations about saying anything at all about my diagnosis. I really contemplated not saying anything at all. When I did decide that I was going to say something, I decided to say it within 10 days before surgery. I didn’t want people calling me and asking me about my condition. I didn’t want all that focus on me for an extraordinary length of time. It would have put a cloud over my Thanksgiving, Christmas and my daughter’s wedding.
People were going to find out anyway, is what I really thought, so I might as well do some good and shed some light on the awkwardness of talking about it. I also thought there are a lot of men out there who are going to hear about me. There are a lot of statistics that show that one out of 28 men will die from prostate cancer and one in seven will develop prostate cancer.
There are a lot of men out there who are in the exact same shoes as me. They’re hesitant to even go in and get checked. I just wanted to put myself out there. Up here in Canada, it has resulted in a huge influx of men getting checked. I think it’s an illness that a lot of men are reluctant to talk about, reluctant to go in and get checked. They disregard the statistics and percentages of how likely they are to get prostate cancer. I think it was good when I came out publicly.
WWE.COM: Are you cancer-free now?
HART: Well, there’s always a chance it could come back, but it seems my cancer was contained within my prostate. I have to get checked every three months for the next couple of years, and eventually it will be once a year, and eventually, in 10 years, they’ll tell me that I’m cancer-free forever.
WWE.COM: Do you have a message for readers of this interview?
HART: Ultimately, I’m hoping that my voice may cause men to get checked and save some lives in the years ahead. There are no symptoms of prostate cancer. If I hadn’t been getting checked on a regular basis, I wouldn’t have known. That’s where men make the mistake. They say, “I feel good, so I’m not going to get checked.” If it happened to a healthy guy like me, who is physically fit and whose dad lived to be 90, it can happen to anybody. It’s easy to get checked with simple blood work. All men in their 50s, or even 40s and younger, should get checked.
Prostate cancer can manifest and then grow for years without you knowing it. By the time you do get checked, it’s too late and it could spread all over to the rest of your body. Early detection of prostate cancer can result in being completely cured. If you get it early, they can remove it and you can live a normal life.
WWE.com will continue to keep Hart's fans updated on his recovery.