B y J o s h T i l l
you haven’t done any research or talked to
anyone. you’re just hit with the news that you
That piece of news was sobering for Gregg.
“It was the most frightening news I’ve ever
had,” he says. “I’m an ex-police officer, so I’ve
been through some rough stuff. Nothing com-
pares to hearing that you have cancer, though.”
After his diagnosis, Mr. Gregg immediately
set out to gather as much information as he
could about his disease, exploring treatment
options to determine what would be best for
him. Unsatisfied with the initial treatment
suggested by his urologist, he was looking for
a second opinion when a close friend offered
him some advice. “he said, ‘you need to come
to UAB. It’s a world-class facility, and this is
where you need to be,’” Mr. Gregg says.
LAUghINg AND LIVINg Soon afterward, Mr. Gregg had an
appointment at the UAB Comprehensive
Cancer Center with a multidisciplinary team
of specialists headed by urologic oncologist
Donald Urban, M.D., and radiation oncolo-
gist John Fiveash, M.D. Knowing he had a
team of experts treating his cancer was com-
forting to Mr. Gregg.
“I loved the team approach,” he says. “We
were able to sit down and make the best
treatment decisions for me based on my cir-
cumstances and lifestyle. That was important
Mr. Gregg soon began a four-month
course of radiation therapy, followed by a
procedure in which radioactive seeds were
implanted in the prostate to administer a
more gradual dose of radiation. Because
of the specific nature of his cancer—and
because he was in such good physical health
prior to being diagnosed—Mr. Gregg did not
have to undergo surgery or chemotherapy.
“I had a great response to the treatment,” he
says. “I’d come home from treatment and work
in the yard. I was already an active person, but
I actually increased my exercise level. I didn’t
want having cancer to change my lifestyle.”
Another way Mr. Gregg coped with his
cancer treatments was through humor. he
joked around with Dr. Fiveash and the
nurses in radiation oncology. On the last day
of his treatment, he emerged from the treat-
ment room wearing his patient gown and his
old graduation cap, from which he moved the
tassel to the other side of his head to show he
was finished with treatment.
“That was a big hit with the nurses,” Mr.
Gregg recalls, laughing. “But I used a lot of
humor because I didn’t want to think about
cancer all the time.”
In less than a year after his diagnosis,
Mr. Gregg was declared cancer-free and has
remained so ever since. “I owe it all to Dr.
Urban and Dr. Fiveash. UAB saved my life.”
LOOkINg AhEAD Mr. Gregg also credits the support he
received from his family in helping him beat
cancer. That includes his wife of 42 years,
Carol; son, Josh, and daughter, Meg. Today,
the family also includes two grandchildren:
one who is nine and another who just arrived
in February 2011.
he remains grateful to UAB and the
Cancer Center—so much so that he was one
of the first to sign up to participate in the
Cancer Center’s Sweet on a Cure fundraiser
when it launched in 2009 (see page 19).
Mr. Gregg encourages others facing cancer
to learn as much as they can, do research,
talk to their doctor and get a second opinion
if necessary. Knowing what to expect and
what challenges patients may face makes a
big difference, he says.
As he enters his 13th cancer-free year, Mr.
Gregg reflects on how cancer changed his
life: It put things in perspective for him and
in the end, made him a stronger person, he
says. Oddly, “it was a great life experience,”
he explains. “Life is full of tragedies, but you
make the best of it. It makes you stronger for
the next one.” B y J o s h T i l l
oNce a police officer, Now a baKer, DeNNis gregg is faMiliar with the bitter aND the sweet siDes of life.
but NothiNg prepareD hiM for the shocK of a caNcer DiagNosis.
AROUND Birmingham, Dennis Gregg is
known as the “Baby Bite Man.” As co-owner
with wife Carol of Birmingham’s Pastry Art
Bake Shoppe, his famous Baby Bites—along
with his cakes, cupcakes and other confec-
tions—are a staple at social gatherings across
But there’s another title that Mr. Gregg is
proud to wear: prostate cancer survivor. “I’d
like to be the prostate cancer survivor poster
boy,” he says.
Mr. Gregg was just 50 years old in July
1998 when a routine exam during his annual
checkup revealed elevated levels of PSA
(prostate-specific antigen), a warning sign for
prostate cancer. his physician sent him to a
local urologist, and a biopsy confirmed the
worst: he had prostate cancer.
“The first thing I thought was that I was
going to die,” Mr. Gregg recalls. “I think
that’s what most people first think, because
sAVED My LIfE.”
BUt yOU MAkE thE BEst Of It. It MAkEs yOU stRONgER fOR thE NEXt ONE.” – dennis gregg
“LIfE Is fULL Of tRAgEDIEs,
14 u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r u A b C o m P r e H e N S I V e C A N C e r C e N T e r 15