Making a brotherhood for male cancer survivors
We chat to prostate cancer survivor, David Lucas, who was recently selected as one of South Africa’s 2022 CANSA Relay For Life Global Hero of Hope.
David Lucas (64) lives in Ennerdale, Gauteng with his wife. They have three children and five grandchildren.
David was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 by chance. “I went to the doctor to test if I had arthritis and the GP took blood samples. It turned out my prostate specific antigen (PSA) level was high and after further investigation, it was confirmed that I had Stage 1 prostate cancer,” David says.
“I was initially ambivalent about the diagnosis but as the reality set in, there was the waking up at 2am. The myth is that cancer is a death sentence but the recovery rate for prostate cancer survivors is as high as 95%.”
David was one of the very first males in South Africa to receive brachytherapy (radioactive seeds that are placed in the body, in or near the tumour). Unfortunately at this time with it being a new treatment, his medical aid didn’t cover it so he paid for it out of his own pocket.
Disappointingly David’s count was still high after brachytherapy so it was advised that he have external beam radiation. His doctor was happy with the results of the radiation so regular follow-ups and PSA tests continued and he has been in remission since.
“I’m lucky that I had no side effects but that doesn’t mean other men won’t have side effects. My cancer was caught early so the side effects were minimal. I can say at 64 years of age, I still have a healthy sexual life, and I take my health and diet seriously,” David adds.
After David finished treatment, he got involved with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). “Although when I was diagnosed, I didn’t make use of the services that CANSA offers, I knew that I may one day need their services. More importantly, I was given a second chance and I believe that God wants me to speak to other men and share my journey. If I can assist but one man to go for early testing, I would have done my part.”
David has helped the CANSA Pretoria and West Rand Care Centres organise their annual Relay For Life events and has spoken about his journey on many radio stations. He is also a Hollard Daredevil Run ambassador, having taken part in six runs.
“CANSA Relay For Life provided me with the opportunity to share my experience and advocate for a cancer free world. I’ve been an active supporter of Relay For Life events since 2011 when I started assisting with my local event on the West Rand. I have served as a volunteer, walked the track as a survivor and caregiver. CANSA Relay For Life has offered multiple platforms to me to share my personal experience as a cancer survivor and it has been my honour to act as motivational speaker at several CANSA events,” he says.
Global Hero of Hope
It’s due to his willingness to educate men on the importance of early detection and to help create awareness about cancer that he was nominated to be a Global Hero of Hope.
“The American Cancer Society started Relay For Life events as a fundraiser but also an awareness campaign. This is usually a 12 or 24 hour event where teams are invited to participate by celebrating, remembering and honouring cancer survivors. It’s also about raising awareness, education and funds to keep CANSA sustained and able to offer care and support programmes for those affected by cancer. This has spread throughout the world and the idea was born to have ambassadors in most countries. These heroes are selected from entries submitted from across the world and I was lucky to be chosen with several other South African cancer survivors. The main function as a Global Hero of Hope is to promote cancer awareness worldwide as well as to assist in promoting Relay For Life events.”
Men supporting men
David adds that he was incredibly lucky to have a great support structure. “Starting with my wife and children, my parents (yes, they are still alive).
The larger family including brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Because I speak openly about my cancer, I have found support from all over.”
“Three medical professionals have admitted to me that they also have cancer and that brought a ‘buddy’ situation in play. Not forgetting the wonderful support from CANSA and our Men Supporting Men Support Group.”
“When it comes to men, I have found that once men see that you are open about your challenges, they do become more relaxed and free in asking questions, relaying their fears and anxieties as well as dealing with a disease that has a worldwide brotherhood.”
MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle is the Editor at Word for Word Media and graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She have a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Images by CANSA