Faith, Love and Medicine
Gastonia pastor says trio is helping him fight prostate cancer
Jerry Davis, 69, is healthy and full of life. The father of two children,
four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and the Associate Pastor
at his home church, AME Zion in York, SC, Mr. Davis knows the true meaning
of serving others and living life to the fullest. So, when he was diagnosed
with prostate cancer, it came as a huge shock to him and his wife, Bonita.
Like many others, Mr. Davis didn’t have any symptoms. He felt great
and exercised regularly. He and his wife like to walk during the week
at the local mall in Gastonia, and he also enjoys a tennis match from
time to time.
Mr. Davis had been receiving annual prostate screens for a number of years,
but his last screen revealed a high Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), which
can be indicative of prostate cancer. A biopsy and further test results
later confirmed this diagnosis.
Circumstances do exist in which symptoms can go undetected and various
factors can cause a man’s PSA level to fluctuate such as age or
certain medications. If a doctor detects elevated PSA level in a man who
has no symptoms of prostate cancer, the doctor may recommend another PSA
test to confirm the original finding. If the PSA level is still high,
the doctor may recommend continuing PSA tests and DREs (digital rectal
exams) at regular intervals to watch for any changes over time. However,
in general, the higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is
that he has prostate cancer, and continuous rise in a man’s PSA
level over time may also be a sign of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men affecting
one in seven American men, and the prevalence in African American men
is 1.6 times greater than Caucasian men. Although experts do not yet understand
why prostate cancer incidence are higher among African- American men,
it is widely believed that a combination of genetic differences, lifestyle
and nutrition habits, and medical care may all play a role in the statistics.
“If detected in its early stages, prostate cancer is highly treatable
and most men go on to live normal, healthy lives after treatment and recovery,”
said Jerome Butler, MD. “Being aware of risk factors is critical
to prevention and long-term health.”
Prostate cancer only affects men and is a serious health concern as men
age. It occurs when some of the cells in the prostate abnormally reproduce
more rapidly, resulting in a tumor. A serious risk is that most prostate
cancers develop in men without any symptoms in its early stages and if
left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body and produce secondary
tumors. Though no test is perfect, routine annual screenings can help
to detect prostate cancer early on before the disease progresses.
“To prevent undetected prostate cancer, it is recommended that men
should receive an annual prostate screen beginning at age 50,” said
Dr. Butler. “For men at a higher risk, such as African American
men, those who have poor lifestyle habits and those with a family history
of prostate cancer, screening should start as early as age 40.”
“I asked my pastor if I could share my story to the church congregation
so that they can understand the importance of getting screened and taking
care of their health,” said Mr. Davis. “We’re all going
to get sick at some time or another, but if I can save another person
through my story, I feel good about that.”
CaroMont Cancer Center provides advanced treatment therapies, as well as
a multidisciplinary team, to determine the most effective analysis and
treatment methods for each person. Following surgery, Mr. Davis is now
receiving hormone therapy treatment and external beam radiation under
the care of Radiation Oncologist Jerome Butler, MD. He has 10 more treatments
to go, but he’s happy to know that his cancer was identified and
now being treated.
When asked what he would tell others who might be reluctant to get screened,
Mr. Davis said, “I would tell them first of all, cancer is not a
death sentence, but it’s important to get screened so doctors can
catch it early.”
Through his surgery and current treatment, Mr. Davis says he has felt great
and credits this to the excellent care from his doctors, his wife and
his strong faith. After he’s done with radiation, he and his wife
want to take a vacation to Hawaii, a place they have always wanted to
visit. Mr. and Mrs. Davis live in Gastonia.
For more information about prostate cancer and the CaroMont Cancer Center,
please visit caromonthealth.org.
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