On episode 14 of Sisters Without Shame, a friend has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Survivor and Cansa ambassador David Lucas (64) joins this week’s episode to unpack the stigma, the journey and the road to healing our friend in crisis must face.
Prostate cancer need not be a devastating diagnosis and survivors do not have to walk the path to healing alone. The three words: “You have cancer”, are also not the end of the road, says Lucas. “Those words make everyone sit up and stand up.”
Lucas is a prostate cancer survivor and hopes that his journey with the disease will encourage men to get screened regularly. His reason is as straightforward as they come: “Early detection saves lives.”
He adds that his own survival is a permanent reminder of his second chance at life. “My strong motivation comes from the fact I believe that cancer patients are God’s favorites.”
Those three words
It was something completely unrelated to cancer that sent Lucas to his doctor in 2011 – a painful finger joint.
Convinced he had arthritis, his doctor checked for gout, drew his blood and in addition performed a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test.
Frequent urination, blood in the urine and the early onset of erectile dysfunction are a few symptoms of prostate cancer. Lucas had none.
His blood test showed elevated levels of PSA, which led to an appointment with a urologist and a biopsy.
Two weeks later, he was notified of his cancer diagnosis.
His treatment plan was outlined by an oncologist. “It was conservative, stage one,” David explains.
He underwent a form of radiation therapy called brachytherapy. Prostate brachytherapy involves placing radioactive sources in the prostate gland, where the radiation can kill the cancer cells while causing less damage to nearby healthy tissue.
After brachytherapy, his cancer spread to his lymph nodes and radiation therapy was required. “I remember I would go to these radiotherapy sessions and I would go back to work, and I would just feel so tired.
“The tiredness was unbelievable. It felt like someone had just taken a ton of sand and just dumped it over your head.
“I was very fortunate that I did not go for chemotherapy [because] chemotherapy unfortunately has its own disadvantages, but it is lifesaving.”
Recovery in early detection
Awareness of prostate cancer is one of the first steps to early detection and timely treatment, Lucas believes.
Cancer shows no remorse or discrimination against its victim. “One of the misconceptions we have is that cancer only affects females,” he says.
“If you live long enough, there is a good chance that you could get prostate cancer. We must not also forget that there are other cancers associated with men, like breast cancer and testicular cancer which affects young men.”
When detected early, prostate cancer has an encouraging five-year post-diagnosis survival rate. “If it was not detected early, I would not have been here. I would have been dead,” Lucas says.
If you have been diagnosed, it is okay to crumble he adds. “We as men are taught that cowboys don’t cry. We as men are told to not stand up and show our weaknesses, we as men want to internalize our problems.”
He has advice for families who are currently going through prostate cancer diagnosis. “Listen. And if he wants to talk about it, please give that ear. I want to give some assurance to the ladies, that those three words are not a death sentence.”
How to listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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