Mon | Apr 22, 2019

Deacon preaches for prostate-cancer awareness

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:13 AM
Clive Patrick Chambers

Clive Patrick Chambers is a 16-year survivor of prostate cancer, and he proclaims that “cancer is no longer a death sentence”.

A Catholic deacon, 67-year-old Chambers has dedicated much of his life after diagnosis to spreading the gospel of “prevention is better than cure”. And though prostate cancer is not preventable, the difference between a painful death and a better chance at a long and fulfilling life is early detection of the cancer. In his case, early detection was the lifesaver that many of his forefathers never had.

Chambers, like many others who are health-conscious, began his routine testing for prostate cancer at the recommended age of 40. Every year he would go to his doctor to get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test done, as is recommended. It is a simple blood test that indicates what the health status of the prostate is. And every year, he left his doctor’s office normal and healthy.

That is, until December of 2002.

He suspected something was wrong after going to get the PSA test and a digital rectal examination done, he said. The results of the tests showed that his prostate was enlarged.

Chambers was referred to a urologist who decided that a biopsy was needed to determine the actual state of his prostate. And when those results came back negative, he was put on medication to address the enlarged prostate. But it did not work, as his next PSA test showed that nothing had changed. He did another biopsy and this time the results were not so good.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

DISAPPOINTED BUT NOT SHOCKED

In that moment, Chambers says he thought of his family. He thought of how his wife and, even more so, his worrisome mother would feel.

And as for him, he says, “I was disappointed but not shocked.”

After all, his own paternal grandfather had died of late-stage prostate cancer. And he would later find out that a number of uncles from that line within his family had suffered similar fates.

Nevertheless, he maintained a positive outlook and he was determined that he would get through the situation well.

“There are people with worse situations than my case. So I wasn’t really worried. I saw it as a cancer but I wasn’t sick. That was my mantra right throughout surgery and after,” said Chambers.

With the help of his church family, a few fundraisers and his life savings, he managed to undergo a nearly pain-free process of surgery to remove his prostate.

He later underwent seven weeks of radiation and three years of hormone therapy to rid himself of the cancer, which had already begun to spread just beyond his prostate. Luckily, it was caught early enough and for that, he says he is not only grateful but he is blessed.

“My life now is normal basically. I still exercise, I’ve changed my diet obviously. But I’m still a father. I am still a husband, and I’m still involved in church ministry,” the deacon exclaimed.

In fact, Chambers is even more involved in church ministry than ever before, preaching about situations like his every chance he gets.

A STUPID FEAR

“I know there is this fear in Jamaica about that part of your anatomy. But it’s stupid, really, not to go because it can save your life. People worry about it because they say it’s painful. And I say it’s uncomfortable but not painful,” he shared.

The deacon also volunteers with the Jamaica Cancer Society as often as possible to offer support to others who are going through prostate-cancer treatment.

“From time to time, I’ve had calls from as far away as New York. Somebody would call me and say, ‘My brother has prostate cancer, can you speak to him?’ And I am happy to do it. I am always available,” he said.

After Chambers’ own grandfather was reduced to “skin and bones when the cancer spread all over his body”, and now that he and three of his five brothers have had prostate cancer, he feels duty-bound to educate young men to screen for their prostate health.

“As a friend of mine once said, 15 to 20 seconds of discomfort is worth dealing with rather than months and months and maybe even years of excruciating pain,” he stressed.

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