Prostate Cancer Survivor Looks Back on 20 Years of Survivorship
Summary: Steward Frazier was diagnosed with prostate
cancer24 years ago, and was treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He recently
shared his reflections on survivorship and what factors he found helpful in dealing with his
I was diagnosed at age 53 with prostate
cancer. That was in 1986, before there was such a thing as a PSA test. My only symptom had been
an unusual change in my sleeping habits.
Following the preliminary diagnosis and biopsy, my oncologist told me there were two
radical prostatectomy or external beam radiation therapy.
I decided to forgo surgery and instead chose to be treated by
Dr. Pradip Amin,
a radiation oncologist who specializes in prostate cancer at the University of Maryland. I
received seven weeks of radiation therapy, and, following treatment, my PSA returned
For the next 13 years, I continued my work as a veterinarian medical officer for the Federal
government, and also became a part-time seminary student, serving as a pastor at two different
churches near my home.
In 1999, my life took an unexpected turn when I was informed that my PSA had risen above the
normal level. My urologist suggested I receive
deprivation therapy, which was administered every four months for almost two years. This form
of therapy turned out to be very problematic for me, and I developed some unpleasant side effects,
not the least of which was severe depression, for which I sought treatment. Eventually my PSA
returned to normal, and I was able to stop the therapy.
Although my treatments were rigorous and, at times, very tiring, I was fortunate to have several
resources that helped me through this difficult period: a positive spiritual life that provided me
with peace of mind, and medical providers -- oncologist, primary physician, cardiologist,
psychiatrist -- who cared for me as a complete person. I remained active by walking and aerobic
exercise, and learned how important it was for me to become my own advocate and learn all I could
about my condition from other professional resources. My positive attitude never faltered, and
neither did the gracious support I received from others.
Being a scientist myself, I have a keen interest in the field of prostate cancer research. I
look forward to the discovery of what makes prostate cancer recur and what determines whether that
recurrence will be aggressive or not.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with multiple
myeloma, and continue to work with my hematologist/oncologist to address this new challenge.
However, my PSA remains normal, and I consider surviving prostate cancer for over 20 years to be
one of the greatest achievements of my life. I feel blessed to be able to share my story of
survivorship with others.