Surrounded by dark clouds, a man walks through a door towards a bright light.

11-Year Survivor of Advanced Metastatic Prostate Cancer

Last updated: May 2023

It is my privilege to share my story as a survivor of advanced prostate cancer. I am Alfred Samuels, a 65-year-old British-born Black man.

Gainfully employed in the security industry, I traveled worldwide extensively as a close protection specialist. This distinguished 30-year career saw me working with leading global entertainment stars, including Bob Dylan, Sade, Oasis, Beyonce, Seal, Rod Stewart, Kelly Rowland, and Harrison Ford.

In early 2012, I was stopped in my tracks when I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

Enrolling in a clinical trial

Presenting prostate specific antigen (PSA) was measured at 509 ng/ml with a Gleason score of (4+3) (6/6 cores). These results suggested aggressive cancer. My treatment options were limited; therefore when I was offered the option of enrolling in a clinical trial, my thoughts were, "What have I got to lose?"

Clinical trials began for me in March 2012 when I was enrolled on the STAMPEDE clinical trial program. I was assigned Arm G of this program; Zytiga + Prostap. It was the beginning of a diverse relationship between the pharmaceutical company and myself, the patient.

The regimental trials process began with a discussion with a clinical nurse specialist priming me for what was to come. Attend the clinical appointments, take your medications diligently, keep your mouth shut; don't argue with medical professionals (intimating those that knew best) were her words. Under normal circumstances, I would have had a few choice words, but my life was in their hands. Let's be clear: the choice was there for me to leave the clinical trial program at any stage.

The mental toll of my diagnosis

With a life-limiting illness, you face not only a painful physical condition but lingering mental symptoms as well. Furthermore, there is trauma related to certain aspects of the illness, treatment and fear of outcomes like disability or death. Plus, there is anxiety over autonomy and control. Cancelling plans last minute also made it difficult to be a responsible parent, partner, or friend. In addition, the act of getting out of bed consumed a lot of energy.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, some people expect you to get better and resent you when you don't. Some relationships end entirely, victims of an unfair and misunderstood illness, while others grow stronger like mine. I did not know how much my life would change, especially with an illness doctors cannot cure. It becomes part of life, and scary in a million ways.

I have learned countless lessons

I have learned countless lessons and gained a vast amount of experience since the early days of this disease, and here I am alive, 11 years later. Prostate cancer journeys for everyone differ, but ultimately we all listen for the remission word. I want you to understand, though, that many of us will need to continue to be monitored.

There are success stories about cancer survivors such as myself showing super responsiveness. Sometimes you can find people who can climb mountains, take long power walks, distance run, and do all sorts of physical things. In contrast, for others, this ability has been taken away, making it feel like yet another loss.

It can be common to grieve over missing or malfunctioning body parts. Often, we may mourn the physical abilities we once possessed, as well as the careers we once had before we stopped working.

Facing adversity

Survivorship has been in my blood whenever I have faced adversity, and it will always be in my blood. I have always believed that my state of mind is what helps get me through. I believe that God utilizes particular circumstances to draw my attention. Not because He caused my illness, but because He uses the opportunity to draw me to Himself.

Everyone can be subjected to bad things at some point in their lives because bad things happen to people, regardless of whether they are good or bad people.

If we do not learn how to deal with setbacks and shortcomings, we can fail in the race of life. Instead of being dangerously optimistic, I think it's important to learn to become an agent of change in our lives. I believe becoming a master of adaptation can help give us a chance of surviving this disease called cancer.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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