Advanced Prostate Cancer Survivor

Advanced prostate survivor finds strength in numbers

Caesar Blevins was 52 when he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer—no family history of disease, no reason to even have it on his radar. But his family encouraged him to get a physical, and that’s when doctors discovered a PSA level of 100. They immediately sent him for a biopsy, and all 12 samples were positive for cancer.

 

I was afraid and shocked. I had no knowledge of the disease, no idea what to do or what to expect. And my doctors were all surprised at such a high PSA level, especially because I hadn’t experienced any symptoms or noticed anything out of the ordinary. I went for a second opinion and asked my doctors a lot of questions. I was told that surgery was an option and that my physician was well-trained in robotic-assisted procedures, but he also let me know that a combination of radiation and hormone therapy was another option.

I needed to keep working, and I knew that surgery would require a lot of time off. The potential complications were also concerning, so I decided on radiation and hormone therapy. I was given 43 radiation treatments and began leuprolide acetate (Lupron) injections every three months. I never missed a day of work.

Unfortunately, the Lupron quit working and the cancer progressed. My team switched me to degarelix (Firmagon), which I still receive every 28 days. At every appointment, they test my PSA level, which is down to 0.04—a long way from 100! I’m doing well and managing the side effects of the Firmagon as best I can; hot flashes, weight gain and fatigue are the most prevalent. I go to the gym every morning before work, and I deal with the rest of it as it comes.

I shared my diagnosis with my son and a few close friends, who were very supportive and helped me get everything in order to start my treatment regimen. I trusted my doctors when it came to learning what I needed to know about the disease; but being informed is so important, and one of the best sources of information comes from other survivors. I joined a support group and became good friends with several of the guys. A few of the gentlemen and I actually broke away from that group and started our own: The Prostate Networking Group.

Over the course of my journey, things changed—so I changed. And everything began to happen for the better. My work with the advocacy group empowered me to speak out. I became more knowledgeable, mentally stronger and passion-driven. I was and still am a very private person, but I don’t want men to go through it blindly as I had to. This disease doesn’t affect just one man; it affects all those who love him. And if my being an advocate encourages even one man to go get checked – regardless of the results – I’ve done good work.

I’ll continue hormone therapy for the rest of my life, and with every treatment is the reminder that disease progression is a possibility. I don’t think about it every day, but I wouldn’t be human if it didn’t cross my mind. For me, it helps to read my Bible and remember that we’re human and will all one day pass. I find that focusing on the people I’ve helped through advocacy work also keeps me positive. It’s important for me and those I talk with to remember: Don’t give up, because we’re still alive.

My cancer journey has been a humbling experience, but it’s also been empowering. I’ve learned that cancer does not discriminate. I’ve also learned that you don’t have to go through it by yourself. Look for other survivors and find a support group. Because we are #StrongerTogether.

Advocacy work has widespread effect

Caesar’s work with the Prostate Networking Group has not only made an impact in his life; it’s helped countless others in the battle against cancer. His words of encouragement can be heard throughout the cancer community—as a boisterous and energetic Bingo host at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, to his kind posts to friends in treatment on the group’s Facebook page. He’s one of the driving forces behind the group’s advocacy work. Along with founder Steve Hentzen, he continues to reach out to the community as part of a grassroots organization of survivors, their partners and those helping in the fight to raise awareness and spread hope.

Several group members recently volunteered at the local Hope Lodge, cooking and serving dinner for patients and their caregivers.

“It’s our way of giving back to the very community that has helped us,” said Hentzen.

The group celebrated Father’s Day this year at a local baseball game, where they handed out information to guests of all ages, regardless of gender. As Hentzen said, nearly everyone has a father, brother, son, best friend, or just someone who needs to know about prostate cancer.

 

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