And learns a lesson about getting second opinions
Part-time Door County resident Sigurd Sandstrom has added another title to his impressive list of accomplishments.
During an Aug. 3 competition held by the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters in a Minneapolis suburb, Sandstrom earned another deadlift world title by hefting 260 pounds. Sig, as he is known, is 80 years old.
We’ve reported in the past on some of Sandstrom’s other records for powerlifting – a sport the retired Stevens Point elementary-school principal took up at the age of 78.
But whether he continues to compete is up in the air at the moment. Shortly after returning home from the August meet, he visited a urologist in Marshfield for a checkup on his prostate. He had been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate six years ago, but it had been stable until the mid-August PSA count registered an alarming jump.
“I asked him how many years I had to live, and he said, ‘Three to four in your situation,’” Sandstrom said. “I asked him also, ‘Has the cancer metastasized?’ and he said, ‘Yes, the horse is out of the barn.’ Then I thought I might as well hang up the powerlifting. I’m going to lose muscle and won’t be able to continue on.”
But that news didn’t sit well with Sandstrom’s daughters or his general practitioner in Stevens Point. They recommended he get a second opinion.
“So I went to Madison and got a good urologist there who was trained at Johns Hopkins [a leader in prostate-cancer research],” Sandstrom said. “He had an MRI done first, and he says, ‘It doesn’t look like much is going on here.’”
Just before Sandstrom visited the Peninsula Pulse office with news of his new record, he had received the biopsy results from the Madison specialist.
“The biopsy showed the cancer had not metastasized,” he said. “The doctor said, ‘You have nothing to worry about. You’re going to live a long time.’”
The lesson, Sandstrom said, is a simple one: “Never rely on the first opinion when it comes to your health.”
But he’s still not sure whether he’ll continue powerlifting.
“My trainer wants me to keep going,” Sandstrom said. “‘You’d clean up in the 80-84 bracket,’ he said.”
Sandstrom’s wife, Mary Ann, said she will back whatever he decides.
“She’s been very supportive,” he said. “She’s been with me to the meets, so she gets to see a little different part of the world every time I go to a meet.”