Surviving The Impossible
Patient Perspective Robert Leah’s life changed in 2003. At the age of 88, he was diagnosed with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer. He thought it was the end, but new scientific advancements have gifted him with more time.
Leah has the most severe type of prostate cancer. His tumor was resistant to castration and his cancer had spread outside of his prostate gland to his hips, making it potentially lethal. But through research and data, doctors have made incredible progress in developing treatment drugs for his condition.
Leah is in the care of Dr. Anthony Joshua, a Medical Oncologist. “Even though castration resistant prostate cancer is resistant to castration, it’s still sensitive to testosterone, which is what fuels cancer growth. We’ve had to think of inventive ways of stopping the cancer from feeding itself.” Dr. Joshua continues, “There are now two new drugs on the market, which either stop the testosterone being made or block the testosterone from acting on the cell.” The latter treatment has proven effective for Leah.
“In the last 10 years, I have sung in a senior’s choir, took Spanish classes and guitar lessons, which I enjoyed. Life now challenges me to keep exercising and stay in touch with friends."
Miracles happen every day
Despite the challenges that come along with age, today Leah lives a happy, pain-free life. “In the last 10 years, I have sung in a senior’s choir, took Spanish classes and guitar lessons, which I enjoyed. Life now challenges me to keep exercising and stay in touch with friends,” states Leah.
Since starting this new therapeutic alternative in September of this year, Leah has undoubtedly extended the length of his life. “Had he not been put on these drugs a few months ago, I would say that his life expectancy would have been very limited — possibly even before Christmas, he would have no longer been with us,” states Dr. Joshua, who reports that Leah’s Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level in his blood has decreased over 90 percent, which is a marker of how active the cancer is and indicates that the cancer is now under control.
"In life, there are worriers and there are warriors; Leah’s enthusiasm and ability to see beyond the limits of his circumstances is inspiring and exemplifies the true meaning of persistence."
There is power in positivity
In life, there are worriers and there are warriors; Leah’s enthusiasm and ability to see beyond the limits of his circumstances is inspiring and exemplifies the true meaning of persistence. “I am very fortunate. I am extremely grateful to have reached this age because all of my family died very early,” expresses Leah who still mourns the loss of his siblings — all of whom died of terminal cancer.
The absence of his relatives doesn’t stop him from living life to the fullest. He begins every day faithfully with an inspirational read and deep mediation. His quality of life is truly at its best simply because he feels joyful that he has conquered what seemed unconquerable. Leah credits his support team for his progress, which consists of medical staff, friends and community workers.
"What was once considered a fatal illness, is now manageable and can be controlled with new therapeutic options to extend the length of life."
Health problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines
Metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer is so advanced that it progresses beyond the initial response to hormonal therapy that lowers testosterone. It is reported that 33 percent of men with early stage prostate cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease.
What was once considered a fatal illness, is now manageable and can be controlled with new therapeutic options to extend the length of life. For those currently suffering, it is encouraged that you talk to your doctor to evaluate if this treatment is best for you.
Looking back at Leah’s experience with prostate cancer, it is evident that his faith has moved mountains. With the extra time he now has, Leah spends it with the people he loves and doing the activities that bring him happiness such as reading foreign books and spreading cancer awareness throughout his community.