Because of hypertension, my blood pressure, and borderline diabetes I’ve going to see my doctor and doing blood work every 3 months, because he’s watching my kidneys and liver as well, from the early days when I had hypertension and didn’t know it. It was undiagnosed. So, he was watching all of this for me and he’d ran a PSA, and in the PSA he didn’t like what he saw. So, he called me at home and told me that, “Carl, I’ve made an appointment with my urologist,” which was his urologist, for the next day, “and I want you to go see him.”
I told him okay. I said, “What’s going on?”
He said, “I saw some things in the blood work that indicate that there may be some cancer, and it’s tied to prostate.
I said, “Not a problem. What time, I need to be there tomorrow?” He told me; so, obviously I was there.
He says, “Carl,” he says, “your prostate is normal. It’s right size. I don’t feel any lesions.” He said, “But,” he kept looking at the printout on my blood work. He said, “I don’t like what that’s telling me. That’s telling me something’s going on somewhere.”
I said, “Okay, what’s my options?”
He said, “You can watch and wait, active surveillance, or we can do a biopsy.”
I said, “Dr.” I said, “You old enough, like I am, to remember Stuffy Smith and the guy that walked around with the cloud over his head. I’m not the kind of guy to walk around with a cloud over my head for 3 months to come back to find out what I’m dealing with. Let’s do the biopsy.”
So he schedule me for the biopsy, the following week. I did that. If I remember correctly it was 16 cores that he took. Out of the 16, I had 4 that were cancerous. All on the left side. So, I told him that day… Well: my wife and I were there. We went back to get the results. My wife is a 3 time cancer survivor leukemia, renal, and breast. he came in and he says, “Carl,” he said, “found 4 on your left side, and it’s prostate cancer.” Well, believe it or not, my wife and I started laughing. Now, don’t think I’m off my rocker, but we started laughing because the joke was if she got sick, I wanted to be sick, or if I got sick, she wanted to be sick. I guess 30 years together, you get like that.
So, he had a very puzzled look on his face. I just told this man he has prostate cancer and he and his wife are both laughing. So, we explained to him why we were laughing. I said, “Okay.” I said, “I want it out of my body. I want the cancer out. I want the prostatectomy.”
He said, “Well, you come right away with that.” He said, “You don’t want to give it any thought? You haven’t even asked about what your other options are.”
I said, “No. I want it out of my body, so I don’t have to worry about it.”
He said, “Well, fine.” He said, “Let me tell you about the Brachytherapy, and all the others. I need to walk through what your options are. You may change your mind.”
I sat. I listened. I said, “I haven’t changed my mind. I want the prostate out of my body with the cancer. I’m blessed that it’s all contained within the prostate. It hadn’t gone anywhere else. I’m blessed to have an aggressive general practitioner to catch this thing in stage 1. You know. Let’s do this.”
He said, “Because you’ve got a heart condition,” which I’ve had a stint and a defibrillator. He said, “I’ve need to get your cardiologist to sign off.”
My cardiologist said, “No, you can’t have that surgery. You’d die on the table. Your heart couldn’t take it.”
I put up a little argument, because that was what I wanted. He let me know they weren’t signing anything for me to even have that risk.
“Carl, I’m talking to you as if you a member of my family. NO.” So, I went back to my urologist. Told him what my cardiologist said. So, let’s go over the other options again. So, my wife and I sat and listened. He laid it all out.
I said, “Okay. Seeds.” I said, “I’ll go with the seeds. The radiation from outside of my body, I can’t wrap my head around you guys getting my body in the exact same position for,” I think it was 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or something like that. I said, “I just can’t wrap my head around that, and then the side effects of it possibly effecting my bladder, my kidneys, my intestines. No, that’s off the table.
Doing nothing is certainly off the table. I’m a Christian. I believe in my faith, and this technology wouldn’t be here if God didn’t give man the knowledge to discover it and apply it.
Like most men, I went through my depression period, but my prostate cancer support group really helped me, because we were talking big boy talk and just putting it on the table like it was. That’s what I needed and that was what I wanted. Other than myself, it was 3 other guys that were black in there, but only 2 of us were actives. When I say active, that’s going out in the community, setting up tables downtown at street fairs and farmers markets, handing out information. I was contacting other ministers about coming to their church to do presentations to their men’s group and that type of thing, that, as well as the entire community. I’m looking at numbers of African-American cases increasing and everyone else decreasing.
still pushing the issue, to talk with these guys and men period about it. Interestingly enough, after my surgery, I guess maybe 6 weeks later, 8 weeks later, my priest, I’m an Episcopalian… my priest asked me to do a sermon. The liturgy that Sunday was Jesus healing the lepers. He told them after he healed them to go tell. With me that resonated about prostate cancer.
“Carl, go tell. Go talk about it.
Our health department here in Wilmington works with us. I was the director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Enforcement and Hood Enforcement here, so I had good relationships with the director of our health department. In September, they do free screening for us. We do mass mailings, newspaper, ads, radio interviews, television interviews. We got a couple of television reporters that are prostate cancer survivors, and we get them to talk about it.
I now include ladies in what we’re doing, because they have an active … a couple of, two or three groups here, that speak and work with ladies regarding breast cancer and ovarian cancer and what have you. I’ve invited them to some of my activities, and they’ve invited me to some of theirs so that we all can learn and share the story.
Dead men don’t make love either. You should see the looks on some of their faces. When I just point blank … This came from one of my 85-year-old members in my club. I came back and I was telling him how frustrated I was getting from getting that from the guys, not so much the ladies, but from the guys. Hank, I think it was, said, “Carl, tell them don’t make love either.” I used that. Typically 99.9% of the time, male or female, it stops them in their tracks.
I have had a couple of brothers that came to a prostate cancer meeting after a clinic and screening and wanted to credit me with saving their live. I said, “No.” I said, “God saved your life. He just sent me there to tell you my story when you were telling me that you weren’t going to get screened and weren’t going to get checked.” I said, “He’s the one that made you listen to me. You made the decision to go back in that backroom and get checked and found out that you were a stage two, or stage three, or stage one, or you were clear.”
I said, “You were man enough to come here and in front of this group you recognized me and you say what you said, but I can’t take credit for it. I said, “Just pass it on. Pay it forward. Talk with some other men.” That’s what I do. That’s what I do.