Prostate cancer isn't a death sentence

All Woman


WHEN Deacon Clive Chambers found out that he had developed prostate cancer, his first concern was how his family would be affected by the diagnosis. It was just before Christmas, and since he was alone when his doctor told him the bleak results, he decided to postpone relaying the news to his family until after the holidays.

“When my wife called me she asked what the result was, and I told her I hadn't got it yet,” he told All Woman.

When he finally broke the news to his family, his second daughter ran out of the room crying. “And I told her that it wasn't the end. It's not a death sentence,” he said.

His doctor spoke with him frankly about his options. He could do nothing and be dead in a few years depending on how aggressive the cancer was; he could undergo radiation with the risk of the cancer returning; or he could have his prostate removed surgically.

Chambers took his decision for his family.

“I knew that doing nothing was out of the question, because it wasn't about me anymore — it was about my family. My last child, now four, was only about two years old at the time, and I wanted to be around for them,” he said solemnly. “Some men would choose to do nothing because they worry about the sexual side of it — whether they will be virile — but I made that decision for my family. I wanted to see my children grow up and achieve their desires.”

But having a radical prostatectomy done, followed by seven weeks of radiation and three years of hormone therapy, was no walk in the park. The deacon took a hit both physically and financially.

“When I found out I had it I was in-between jobs, and when this came up I couldn't work for a year. I had no health insurance, so I had to dig into my savings,” he recounted.

In addition to the cost of surgery and treatment, Chambers had his wife, who by this time was working part-time, and four children to care for. His church family at Sts Peter and Paul Church also came to his aid. They put on a fund-raiser for his benefit, which helped to offset a portion of the roughly $2,000,000 that cancer cost him.

Chambers also became a little grouchy while he was undergoing hormone treatment, a side-effect that he was told to look out for by his doctor. He acknowledged that this period would have been difficult on his wife and children, as he was not always pleasant to be around.

After kicking the cancer, the deacon decided to become an advocate for prostate cancer awareness. He organised a cancer forum at his church, which was well attended, after which he was invited to work with the Jamaica Cancer Society. He has since made it his mission to encourage men to get their prostates checked as early as possible.

“You are more of a man when you think of your family; when you become selfless,” he reassured. “It is a risk that your virility might be affected, yes, because some men do have that issue, but that doesn't make you less of a man. And there are ways, if you search the Internet, to resolve that issue. But if you want to live long and have a good life with your family and see your grandchildren, you don't think of that first.”

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