Willie Staten: "You can make excuses or make your life a testimony"
Willie Staten has led a life committed to public service. Little did he know a cancer diagnosis would lead him to contribute to his community in new ways.
"I think it is very important for people to find opportunities to serve their communities. I've always been a passionate advocate for a number of different causes, such as helping veterans navigate and process paper work to receive their benefits, and transporting members of my church and community to their doctor appointments. I also help elderly neighbors with the upkeep and landscaping of their property when they can no longer do so. This activity allows me to further pursue my interest in gardening, which I consider a form of therapy. All of these efforts I felt would benefit the common good of our community whether be it at a macro, mezzo or even micro level. I always say a person can either have a complaint or a testimony. This means when things are difficult you can decide to sit down and complain, or you can decide to use your resources and talent to solve the problem, thereby providing a testimony of your efforts to others."
Reflecting back on his diagnosis, "I remember it was 2005; I'd just finished exercising when I got a call from my urologist. He told me I had prostate cancer; his words left me in complete shock; the experience was very surreal. The doctor asked my wife and me to come in to discuss options. A lot of information was presented and it was a little overwhelming. I was presented with several options for treatment; should I go with radical prostatectomy, radiation pellets, or active surveillance and so on. Once the urologist confirmed I had an aggressive form of prostate cancer, I elected to have a radical prostatectomy. "
"In the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis and treatment I had to focus my efforts on getting better and helping other family members who were also dealing with serious health issues. Once I felt better, I joined Us TOO International. The act of talking to other men who were dealing with similar concerns was a great form of therapy. The support group provided various opportunities to learn and share information with other survivors and patient advocates. Because of my experiences with Us TOO, I was motivated to once again contribute to my community by talking to men about prostate cancer. I was even able to help my brother. When talking with him one day, I discovered he had not seen a doctor in some time, nor had his PSA checked. I encouraged him to make an appointment, and as a result he learned he had advanced prostate cancer. From this experience I again realized the impact that each person can have in another person's life."
Willie then had an opportunity to help his community at an even greater level by participating as a consumer reviewer for the PCRP. "I was grateful for the nomination by Us TOO International to participate as a consumer reviewer in the PCRP peer review process. I think my previous career history as a Combat Medic, Radiography Technician, Respiratory Therapist, Social Worker and Instructor served me well on the review panels. PCRP funded projects have resulted in new findings for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer, and I was encouraged to learn that scientists are continuing to develop better tests to improve diagnosis and prognosis for prostate cancer patients. It's good to know potential treatments are on the way and that more men will not suffer as in the past. Based on my experiences serving on a PCRP panel, I think there is great promise to seeing the eradication of prostate cancer."
"I'm glad I had this volunteer experience. Everyone can do something; find out what motivates you. I can't think of a better way to give back to your community, to work with other survivors, advocates, and scientists to improve the lives of those living with prostate cancer. This will be part of my testimony. We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. "