Tag Archive for: Prostate Cancer Patient

Advanced Prostate Cancer: Gary’s Clinical Trial Profile

Advanced Prostate Cancer: Gary’s Clinical Trial Profile from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Advanced prostate cancer patient Gary was an athlete in the first Oncology Olympic Games in Rome. Watch as Gary shares his prostate cancer journey, benefits and knowledge he’s gained from clinical trials, and his advice to others considering participating in a clinical trial. 

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My name is Gary, I’m 66 years old and in January 2011, I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic prostate cancer. 

I started my journey after the diagnosis, It was quite hard to take because I didn’t have symptoms, and it was a complete shock, and I found out by accident by being in hospital with pneumonia. When I found out, the team came around to talk to me, and they said there are lots of things open to me, like new medications, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and clinical trials. So it started off very positive, and that made me feel positive about it as well. I started off on hormone treatment and my PSA over a few months went down from 255 down to 12. In October of that year, I started on an infusion every four weeks to strengthen the bones and stop osteoporosis. So that was an important move. Then my PSA started rising again, it crept up to 83. So I was only on hormone treatment, and that was when they offered me the PREVAIL trial. I looked up on the Internet about the trial when it was a trial that was known as MD-310 at the first stage of firm tests in America, and then they were rolling out the stage two tests, so I discussed it with my family. 

And we decided it would be a good move. And so I signed up for the clinical trial, and I started the trial on the 23rd of December. Being a 50/50 placebo versus drug, I didn’t know whether I was going to be on the drug or not. Come the new year after of couple of months, I started feeling better and my PSA started going down again. I felt more energetic and my consultant agreed with me when I said I thought I was probably on the drug because there’s a difference. It actually was the one thing that I’ve done that changed my life because I had a future, I felt better which I was a bit worried about doing because of the prognosis when they said it was up to two years depending on if I go to a good treatment. And the longer I was on the drug, the better I felt. I had side effects. I was clinically castrated by the drug, because it cuts off all the testosterone apart from that. 

I had a very, very good life. My wife and I’ve been married since we’ve been 19. We got married in 1974, and we’re solid as a rock. She is my rock all the way through this. Sometimes it’s harder for her, I think, than for me, because she’s watching what I’m going through. But after I’ve been on it for so long, we got really confident, and life was completely normal. And then came my first grandchild in 2014, and closely followed by the second one, two years later, and then the third one last year in lockdown, and they have made it such of my life such a joy. So I’m so thankful for deciding to go on a clinical trial. I would recommend clinical trials because you’ve got the basic treatments, but clinical trials can make a big difference, because although they are not tested drugs they’re probably the drugs of the future. 

And you can get on the ladder early and be on these drugs, and instead of giving it…giving me about three years, it worked for nine years. So it gave me nine years of worry-free life. I’ve had my ups and downs, I had some phases of [inaudible] radiotherapy here and there, but it was…it really did make a massive difference to my life. And I don’t think if I hadn’t gone on that clinical trial, I don’t think I would have been here now.  I relish every single minute I’m here and if another clinical trial, that would suit me came up tomorrow, I would definitely think about going on that one as well.  

Advanced Prostate Cancer: Willie’s Clinical Trial Profile

Advanced Prostate Cancer: Willie’s Clinical Trial Profile from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Prostate cancer patient Willie was diagnosed in 2021 at the age of 65. Watch as he shares his prostate cancer story from diagnosis to how he’s doing today, his experience with a patient navigator and a clinical trial, and his advice to both Black men and to all others with prostate cancer.

See More From Patient-to-Patient Diverse Prostate Cancer Clinical Trial Profiles



My name is Willie. I’m 65 years old. In 2021, I found out that I had prostate cancer. 

 I would like to explain about the experiment that I went through in prostate cancer. Some that was, I was afraid of because that word cancer and that word to me, out of all my life, I done heard that, all I thought about was death. It kills you. You’re not going to live. And I was trying to find out where and how I got cancer, and I didn’t get no idea until I was able to sit down, talk with my navigator and what procedure I would have to go do in order to help me with my cancer. So they gave me some choices. One I didn’t like because I had to be hung upside down for four hours, and I didn’t think I can do anything like that at my age. And next, they told me cancer, radiation, and I was scared of that because it was like burning fire. And I had seen other people how it done them and their skin, and it put fear in me. So, I decided to go and talk to my doctor. 

I want to be healthy. And when I started my cancer treatment, it was the scariest move. When they put a gown on me and laid me on that bed, they put these machines on me, and I had to lay there, and they mark me where they want to set it up, or where the cancer was at, they’re going to do the radiation. I didn’t understand it. I really needed help in my house, I was so sick, I own a bed, it’s a pull-out bed out of my couch. So I went to a bag, a bean bag to be able to lay on each and every day I was just under that much pain, and it was miserable to me, and I kept on working on it. I didn’t want my hair to be falling out. I didn’t want my body to be deformed all that was on my mind, and I decided to go and do this radiation. And now I can tell anybody I know it’s scary, I have experienced it, but it’s really after you get done with it, you’ll be so happy that it makes you feel like you were one time before, you’re back to your normal, you’re you. 

My reason to take the clinical trial, because I had fear in me about prostate cancer, and I did not know where and what it would be like of carrying this. So I had in my mind that I wasn’t going to do it. I couldn’t sleep at night. You know one…and how is it going to, how is this cancer going to hit me? I’m laying in the bed, “What’s it going to do? What should I do? How should I sleep to keep from worrying about me and this cancer?” I’m running back and forth to the bathroom, couldn’t eat and appetite gone and I got to the point, I’m going and take this test. So I called the navigator and he and I discussed this, and he convinced me.  

A clinical trial to me is the work of getting you with your prostate taken care of. I experienced a lot of goodness after I realized what this was really about.  The clinical trial, it really made me happy to be a part of it because I just didn’t believe that after learning about that word cancer, I’d feel good. I’d feel like I ain’t got the cancer, and that’s what that clinical experience showed me, and made me feel like. So, I’m happy with it. 

My advice to men, especially Black men, I advise them to check themself, your whole body, you need your health taken care of, if you want to be able to be out here and live with this prostate cancer. One thing I do know about Black men, they are afraid when it comes to taking care of themself as though they can look in the mirror and see all about themself and tell you whether there’s something wrong or not, but you can’t do that. I advise all men, not just only Black to take time out, talk to your provider. A lot of us got it, and we don’t even know we are carrying this around with us, but you like to go out and have fun, smoke your cigarettes, drink and do all your partying, but you’re still carrying that death weight on you. We don’t need that cancer, prostate. And I would advise all men, take time out and check yourself out, because it’s a good thing in life to do as being…want to be here on earth amongst other good men. And I would like to say, please do this, I’m a living witness. 

Look at me. I feel just the way I look and I’m serious to tell you to take that time out for yourself. 

Prostate Cancer Survivor Thrives After Unexpected Diagnosis

Prostate Cancer Survivor Thrives After Unexpected Diagnosis from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Prostate cancer patient Theo received a shocking prostate cancer diagnosis six years after a biopsy following a high PSA. Watch as he shares his cancer journey and advice to other prostate cancer patients.

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My name is Theo, and I live in Akron, Ohio. In 2009, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At 52 years old, this came as a shock as I took good care of myself and worked out regularly. Prior to that, I had a biopsy in 2003 following a high PSA diagnosed by my primary physician.

After the biopsy, no follow-up with care was recommended. I was not asked to return or contacted again by the urologist’s office. When I met with a urologist in 2009, the biopsy showed cancer with a Gleason score of 7. The doctor showed me a chart that revealed I had eleven years to live. I immediately thought of my oldest grandchild, and wondered if I’d be around to see him grow up. I was in disbelief and stunned.

I opted to have surgery following my diagnosis, and though my PSA was then down below one, it began to climb. I followed up with radiation for seven weeks, but my PSA started to climb after completing radiation. Ever since, I have been seeing my medical oncologist every 3 months since 2010.

Since 2019, my PSA has gone up and down but has gone from 53 in May of 2019 to 57 in December of 2020. My doctor has advised not starting hormone treatments until metastasis is found. Confident in my care, I agreed with that advice. I soon discovered that I was not alone. After speaking with members of my church, I discovered other men faced the same diagnosis and varied experiences.

Soon, time became more precious. I was fortunate to have my family with me every step of the way. Seven grandchildren later, that eleven years has now turned into 12 years.

My advice for other prostate cancer patients:

  • Be aware that your care team members may have biased opinions based on their fields of expertise.
  • Discuss all options with each treatment specialist prior to deciding which course of action to take.
  • Connect with others, it can be comforting to know that you share the same experience.

These actions are key to staying on your path to empowerment.

Patient Profile: Peter Blaze Corcoran

Patient Profile

Peter Blaze Corcoran

June is National Men’s Health Month. This month’s patient profile emphasizes the importance of continuing to explore options for maintaining optimum health after diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Peter Blaze Corcoran concedes that there is never a good time to get a stage four cancer diagnosis, but he says his diagnosis came at a time in his life when he felt secure in managing it. It was 2015 and he was a university professor nearing retirement. He had insurance, a supportive employer, and access to excellent medical care. “It came at a time when I was mature enough, secure enough, and knowledgeable enough,” says Peter. “I felt quite stable in dealing with it.” It was prostate cancer, a particularly aggressive form that was not confined to the prostate. Treatment required a radical prostatectomy and several months of radiation. During treatment doctor’s discovered a second cancer, liposarcoma, but fortunately it is non-threatening to date.

During his treatment, Peter was able to continue working part time which he says helped with his recovery. “It was a bit of a life line being able to work during treatment,” he says. “Work is so central to one’s identity.” The diversion of work meant Peter was able to maintain his pre-diagnosis identity. “I was not a cancer patient, but a professor who was still writing and administering.” It was important to him to maintain that persona because his goal was to return to the classroom, finish his career, and to be able to “go out on top” rather than retire early due to cancer. “The goal was to get back in the classroom, to teach again, and do another book and be involved in the university,” he says. “Which I was blessed to do.”

Peter retired this year and while he does have some health difficulties as a result of his cancer and treatment, he now has no evidence of disease (NED). He also has some other lasting effects from his experience. “I think I’m on a different path than I would have been without the cancer,” he says. “Cancer is an effective teacher.” Peter says he hopes he has learned to be more compassionate, empathetic, and more humble, and that he has developed a deeper gratitude for life. Cancer has been a source of spiritual development for Peter and he says it has brought him into what he calls a sacred space. “A diagnosis this serious is a wake up call to deeper questions.” says Peter who used his experience as a means to address life’s bigger questions, including questions about his own mortality and about the amount of suffering in the world. He also tackled the “why me” and “will it come back” questions, and in the answers he found what he calls a turning point. “I wanted to craft a life that diminishes the chance for cancer to return,” he says.

To do that, Peter turned to the Commonweal Cancer Help Program (CCHP). The program is a week long retreat for cancer patients in Bolinas, California. Patients can attend the retreat at any stage of their illness, but must be under a doctor’s care and able to care for themselves during the remote retreat. Each retreat is open to 8 or 9 participants at a time and focuses on integrative healing techniques. Peter says treatments include music, art therapy, qi gong, individual and group therapy, traditional Chinese medicine, massage, exercise, and nutrition. “Commonweal helps you integrate treatments and the importance of good nutrition,” he says. Patients develop a practice of intentional healing and Peter says it is a great opportunity for insight into your own cancer. While the program is expensive, Peter says there is a scholarship program. “Many people who’ve been there have made it possible for others to go,” he says. While Peter recognizes that Commonweal’s broad-minded approach may not be in some people’s comfort zone, he says that one of the lessons he learned from having cancer was to say yes to all forms of healing. He says that he had the best of western medicine and he’s grateful for that, but that he continues to be open to a variety of modalities and methodologies that can help him. “What distinguishes Commonweal is that they have analyzed and studied all methodologies that have helped people,” he says. “I feel as though it’s really helped me make a turn for the better in my life.” Peter adds that the program empowers patients to care of themselves. “You set your intention,” he says. “The power comes from setting your intention.”

A career educator, Peter moves forward with the intention of teaching others the lessons he’s learned. He’s very thoughtful about what he wants to share and he emphasizes the importance of his faith community to him and how comforting it was to him to know that people were praying for him and his healing. “My faith community was extraordinarily important in my recovery,” he says and credits being open to the power of prayer in his healing process. Peter encourages others to be open to a variety of healing, too. “It’s good to say yes and stay open to all possible ways of healing whether it takes you out of your comfort zone or not,” he says. Another thing Peter says to say yes to is a buddy. “It’s important to have a cancer buddy,” he says. Find someone who has been through cancer and can give you advice and can help you through the process. He credits his cancer buddy for helping him to be open to the opportunities that cancer might bring. She told him that if anyone should ever mention the word cancer to him, he should stop and pay attention. “Listen for the opportunity to help others,” he says.

You can learn more about the Commonweal Cancer Help Program at commonweal.org.

Patient Profile: Kirk Beck

Patient Profile

Kirk Beck

Prostate and Head and Neck Cancer

What is significant to Kirk Beck is not that he’s had cancer. He delivers his story with minimal detail about his diagnosis, his treatment, and the subsequent life-threatening complications he endured as casually as he might tell you what he had for breakfast. It’s not until his wife Kelly joins the conversation that the full impact of Kirk’s medical history becomes clear.

“He wouldn’t have lived to be 50,” says Kelly of the first time Kirk was diagnosed with cancer. They weren’t married then, but it’s not lost on Kelly that their marriage never would have happened if he hadn’t survived. “It was caught very early and he was lucky,” she says. What’s lucky is that Kirk’s prostate cancer was detected at all. It was the mid-90s and he was 44, much too young to have a prostate screening in those days, but Kirk had a friend with the disease so during a routine physical he insisted, despite his doctor’s protest, that he get tested.

That test ultimately resulted in his diagnosis and a radical prostatectomy. Through the help of his brother, a physician, he sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital where the surgery was done using the “nerve-sparing” technique — which helped prevent side effects such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. The surgery was a success, the cancer hadn’t metastasized, and Kirk didn’t require chemotherapy or radiation. “I got operated on and came home,” he says and in the 20 plus years since he’s had no recurrence or side effects.

He did, however, get another cancer diagnosis. This time he had tonsil cancer in October 2005. Within days his tonsil became extremely swollen. He had surgery the next month, followed by chemotherapy and radiation which was accompanied by a drug designed to protect his salivary glands from the radiation. This time there were complications. By New Year’s Eve he was back in the hospital and then again, after his second round of chemo, at the end of January 2006. He had what he calls episodes of extreme pain. “It was excruciating. Unbearable,” he says.

What he had was a blood clot, portal vein thrombosis, which is a rare condition to which he had a very rare reaction, and his small intestine had begun to die. He was unable to digest food and was vomiting a lot. His body had created what is known as collateral veins which were enough to keep him alive, but not enough to prevent damage to his small intestine. The hospital told Kelly that there was nothing more they could do. He was too high risk for surgery, they said. She was advised to contact hospice care.

“If I had listened to them, he would be dead. I just knew deep down this wasn’t supposed to be happening this way,” says Kelly, who instead of calling hospice called Kirk’s brother, the doctor, and got Kirk back to Johns Hopkins where they were able to save his life.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Kirk required intensive and careful treatment of his clot, continued radiation for his cancer treatment, and surgery to remove the damaged area of his small intestine. The process was scary and daunting and full of unpleasant details, but that is not what Kirk chooses to focus on. “If you look at it properly, it’s a gift. Not a penalty. Not a punishment. It’s an opportunity to reconsider your perspective on life,” says Kirk.

“It was a great experience. It might be strange to say, but its what I believe. It’s not something I want to go through again, but it was priceless. It changed my entire life and made me a lot more appreciative.” That is what is significant to Kirk. Not having cancer twice. Not having a life-threatening blood clot, but the living that he has done and the opportunity that these experiences have given him to help others. “I’ve been able to share my story and offer help to others that I couldn’t have offered without the experience. People knew I was speaking the truth. There’s no fiction in it. I try to give people a real and truthful perspective and that is invaluable.”

Kelly has a similar take away. She says the experience afforded her a new perspective, but also made her a strong advocate for patient empowerment. “Don’t always accept what they say. Be an advocate,” she says. “If you have a bad feeling and you are not getting answers, go elsewhere. There are so many places you can go for information. Take advantage of every opportunity. Having a good, strong advocate will save your life.”

In addition to his two bouts with cancer, Kirk has had a number of pretty considerable medical issues over the course of his 67 years, but he’s never let any of it slow him down. “Everyone has their own journey and also their own destination,” says Kirk who believes that a positive attitude is crucial to recovery. “You just can’t allow yourself to be destroyed by these situations.”

Finding Support For Prostate Cancer

Interview with Jim Schraidt, Patient Advocate, and Chuck Strand, CEO of Us TOO International

Andrew Schorr interviews Jim Schraidt and Chuck Strand about the importance of finding support for prostate cancer. Jim explains how he fell into a depression from treatment side effects, but by finding a support group through Us TOO he was able to diffuse his anger and learn methods of coping from other men going through the same thing. Us TOO International provides educational and support resources for the prostate community with peer-to-peer and online support groups. Both men agree that with support comes empowerment and the knowledge to take back control of your life.

Finding Support For Prostate Cancer from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Live Your Life, Every Day

At the Prostate Cancer Town Meeting, William Baun, wellness expert and prostate cancer patient advocate, talks about his journey from diagnosis through treatment, clinical trials and living and coping with his illness. Even with a family history of prostate cancer, William was still surprised when he received his diagnosis because it was much earlier than his grandfather or dad. After the initial shocked lessened, he decided he knew what to do and that he was going to fight hard and make the best day out of everyday. William’s advice for other cancer patients is to make sure you take care of yourself and your caregiver. Watch the video below to hear William’s full story.

Live Your Life, Every Day from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.