For most of my life I had no health problems aside from a cold every once in a while. At age 48 I started to have lower back pain and went to see my family doctor, who gave me anti-inflammatory pills, which were ineffective. After two years of continuous back pain, I was sent to see a colon specialist, who then referred me to a urologist. At the urologist visit, I had my very first PSA test and a digital rectal exam (DRE), which I had every year for the past five years and at my last visit with my family doctor. The nurse had me supply a urine sample and then I waited for a while to talk with the doctor. The nurse called me in and asked me how long I was peeing blood. I said that I did not notice that was happening.
At this time, the doctor told me that since I was passing so much blood in my urine and the fact that my prostate was the size of an over ripened peach, he was confident I had cancer but we needed further test results to determine how bad it was. My wife and I went back and got the results which showed my PSA was 998. Following a biopsy, CT, bone, and MRI scans, I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic prostate cancer. That was April 1, 2003.
Because I had never been sick and did not smoke or drink, my doctor felt that I was a great candidate for a trial of three chemotherapies and two hormone therapies. However, things took a turn for the worse and soon after the trial began I ended up in intensive care, where my wife was told that I only had six months to live and to get herself ready for my passing.
To share my story with others, I started to volunteer with USToo, American Cancer Society, Zero, Gibbs Cancer Center, Bon Secours Cancer Center and Greenville Health doing presentations on prostate cancer. I also joined the Cancer Action Network as the lead for the Upstate of South Carolina. Through my involvement with the Cancer Action Network and Zero, I have been able to go to Washington to meet with Congress to encourage funding of prostate cancer research.
Through my experiences, I found that talking only to men was not the answer to encouraging others to get tested and seek treatment. In most cases, men just did not listen, and many did not want to share their experiences. This led me to start a new organization, called “Save Your Males”, which focuses instead at educating women about prostate cancer since they often play a large role as caregivers of their loved ones dealing with prostate cancer. This group allows me to meet with individuals to discuss prostate cancer and take calls when people need to talk to someone who has been there, and has even expanded to address other male cancers, including male breast cancer and testicular cancer. My ability to connect with and help others battling this disease has given me a purpose to live for every day, and I believe is part of why I am still here.
This past year I was honored to serve as a PCRP consumer reviewer after being nominated by Zero. It was a great feeling serving on the panel with so many others who had the same thing goal in mind – to help fund the best research projects in order to find a cure, or at least improve the quality of life for those living with prostate cancer. My personal experience of living with lethal prostate cancer for the past 15 years allows me to provide a unique perspective during the peer review panel discussions evaluating the merit and potential impact of the proposed research for patients.
I hope to serve for as many years as a reviewer the DoD PCRP to help identify the most promising projects that will benefit men like me with prostate cancer.
Last updated Wednesday, September 19, 2018