‘Don’t be like me’: Big Stone warns Jamaican men amid battle with stage 4 prostate cancer
Well-known philanthropist and blogger Claude ‘Big Stone’ Sinclair has decided to become an advocate for the fight against prostate cancer after his own dire stage 4 diagnosis of the dreaded disease.
“Prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers among Jamaican men, especially African men. Don’t be like me. Don’t fall into the trap I have fallen into right now where I am suffering from stage 4 cancer. The prostate cancer has spread to my pelvis and my hip. I am feeling so much excruciating pain that you cannot imagine. I don’t want my fellow Jamaican, my fellow African or any man on the planet earth to experience any of what I am experiencing now,” he said in an interview with Observer Online.
The prostate is a gland that produces some of the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine passes out of the body. An enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger and is a normal occurrence in almost all men as they get older.
After experiencing urinary tract problems for a few months, Sinclair visited his doctors who performed a biopsy in November 2023 and the results came back on December 27: he had prostate cancer. Then he did a battery of tests including a bone scan and a CT scan on January 9, which confirmed that he had metastatic prostate cancer, meaning the cancer had spread from the prostate to his left femur and left hip.
“My PSA was 72.8, it had doubled in two years and my Gleason is 9, with 10 being the highest, once you get to 8, you’re in trouble,” the 66 year-old philanthropist said.
The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is used to determine the presence of a protein, produced by the prostate, elevated levels of which may indicate the presence of cancer. Pathologists grade prostate cancers using the Gleason system. The Gleason score of prostate cancer is a very important factor in predicting its behavior and determining the best treatment options. Cancers with a Gleason score of 6 or less may be called well differentiated or low-grade. Cancers with Gleason scores of 8 to 10 may be called poorly differentiated or high-grade.
Sinclair urged men to be vigilant and be educated about the prostate cancer scourge.
“Go get tested. Go look about yourself, your health is your wealth. My doctors said that if they had caught it before it spread, they could have removed it and I would have been cancer-free,” Sinclair disclosed.
Interestingly, Sinclair had undergone a PSA test over two years ago, and the results came back with a result of 32.
“The normal range is 0 to 4, mine was 32 at that time, but I didn’t know what that number meant, you would be surprised how many men don’t know either. I should have done something about it,” he said.
Ignorance, sadly, is no defence when it comes to one’s health.
“The only person I have to blame is myself and it is because of ignorance, because of taboo, it is because of this masochistic approach to health why so many men are suffering this dreaded disease today. It can block the urethra and you cannot pee, I was unable to pee for two to three hours, excruciating pain, mi belly bottom ah kill me, Lord Jesus help me, mi bawl pon every name,” he related.
Sinclair is a Garveyite and was instrumental in the visit to Jamaica of Marcus Garvey’s son, Dr Julius Garvey in 2012. In September last year, Sinclair sparked controversy when he was released from chains by People’s National Party (PNP) President Mark Golding during a constituency conference.
A proud former member of the Boys Brigade, which he said instilled core values in him, Sinclair is ready for the fight of his life, but he also wants to save the lives of other men. Black men are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer and therefore testing should be done the recommended number of times for men aged 40 and over.
“By sharing my story, I am saving you the embarrassment of what I had to go through. I am asking you to help me so I can fight for my people, so I can further be an advocate and reach out to people all over Jamaica and the world and let them know your health is your wealth and you must take care of yourself. I wanna live, my family has been supportive, but I need your help,” he said.
He has raised over US$1,000 out of an intended US$50,000 through his Real Helping Hands account established to defray the costs of medication and treatment.
A philanthropist, Sinclair has been involved in several projects, raising money for impoverished individuals. He helped to build a house for Patrick Duncan, a deaf senior citizen of Arnett Gardens who was living in a rat-infested, old car. He was instrumental in organising a benefit concert for Junior Byles, in 2019 and another concert in 2020 for sick teenager, Tracey-Ann Ricketts, who was suffering from a rare form of cancer in the face. Ricketts eventually died.
Sinclair also made a donation of groceries through the Rudolph Prendergast and Real Helping Hands foundations to George Williams, the 72-year-old mentally ill man who was released from prison after being there for 50 years without a trial.
“Now, I need help so I can continue to help others with this fight,” he said.
STIGMA OF DIGITAL RECTAL EXAMINATION
Big Stone said that the stigma associated with psycho-social effects of ‘buck-breaking’ (white males having sex with black male slaves to break their spirit) and the discomfort of a digital rectal examination has skewed the numbers of prostate cancer diagnoses and driven up the prevalence and mortality of this type of cancer among men in Jamaica.
“The reason that Jamaicans are afraid is because of the physical exam, the examination of your prostate. It has been taboo in Jamaica because Jamaican men don’t want to go certain ways. There is a PSA test, an ultrasound and an MRI, but the digital rectal examination is very important and it can tell a doctor, male or female, the size of your prostate and save your life,” he said.
There is a high prevalence of prostate cancer among males in Jamaica. One report suggested that Jamaica has the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in the world, with an age-standardised rate of 304/100,000 per year. The Caribbean region is reported to have the highest mortality rate of prostate cancer worldwide.
Around 95 out of every 100 men will survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.
“My mindset is that I can beat this disease based on my healing regimen I put in place so far, I am not thinking anything negative at all, I can beat this, I appreciate the love I have been getting from the public,” Sinclair said.