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The Potcake: Prevailing over prostate cancer

BIG DADDY LAUNCH in Cat Island (left to right) Warren Davis, event organizer; Leslie Miller, former MP and prostate cancer survivor; Dr Greggory Pinto, Urologist; Prime Minister Philip Davis; Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville; Dr Alfred Dawes; Vincent McDonald, event host; and Charlie Balentine, Managing Partner, Biospy.
Photo: Karlyle Harris

BIG DADDY LAUNCH in Cat Island (left to right) Warren Davis, event organizer; Leslie Miller, former MP and prostate cancer survivor; Dr Greggory Pinto, Urologist; Prime Minister Philip Davis; Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville; Dr Alfred Dawes; Vincent McDonald, event host; and Charlie Balentine, Managing Partner, Biospy. Photo: Karlyle Harris

By Felicity Darville

Prostate cancer is outpacing breast cancer as the most prevalent cancer found in Bahamians, according to Dr Greggory Pinto, a Bahamian urologist. The Bahamas ranks among the top ten countries in the world for the prevalence of prostate cancer. Noting such high statistics, the Sir Ulysses “Big Daddy” Davis Cancer Screening Non-Profit, led by Warren Davis, has kicked into high gear, on a mission to save as many lives as possible. Big Daddy has teamed with Biospy to introduce a new, revolutionary way to get tested that doesn’t involve any needles or invasive examinations.

Former Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for Tall Pines, Leslie Miller, a prostate cancer survivor, joined Big Daddy’s national campaign to encourage Bahamian men to get tested, because it actually saved his life: “I urge all Bahamian men to do the right thing - save your life - because there’s no reason to die from this thing called prostate cancer anymore.”

“If you don’t do it, we are going to miss you, because you will be gone. I did what I had to do. I love my family and all who love me… hopefully they love me. You know I am “The Potcake”. Some of them don’t love me; they only know me when they need me! But hopefully some love me. I know my children and grandchildren do… all the rest, I would hope they do.”

Miller was in Cat Island in May for the launch of the Big Daddy Prostate Cancer Screening initiative, where more than 100 men were successfully tested with the Biospy device. Prime Minister Philip Davis was also in Cat Island for the event. He encouraged his constituents to take advantage of the test, which does not involve the “dreaded finger” or any embarrassment. Biopsy painlessly extracts a tiny amount of blood from the patient. State-of-the-art microfluidics make it possible to garner quick, efficient results.

“I was shocked to hear the statistics of men having more cancer than women, when Bahamian women have one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world,” Mr Miller said.

“The doctor said that none of us have to die from prostate cancer. Our problem (as Bahamian men) is that we don’t want to do what is necessary to save our lives. We don’t want to do our annual physicals and take our tests. Most of us only show up to the doctor when the pain gets too hard to manage, and by that point, sometimes it’s too late.”

The seriousness of prostate cancer was felt on a national scale when The Bahamas lost its longest-serving Prime Minister, SIr Lynden Oscar Pindling. The Father of the Nation lost his battle to prostate cancer on August 26, 2000. Nearly twenty-four years later, one in every six Bahamian men are at risk for prostate cancer. Worldwide, prostate cancer impacts approximately 1.3 million men.

The Big Daddy Prostate Cancer Screening initiative pays homage to Ulysses “Big Daddy” Davis - a phenomenal family patriarch who passed away from the disease in 1991. His grandsons Warren Davis, event organiser, and Dr Pinto conducted the launch in his honour.

Prostate cancer is prevalent in Mr Miller’s family: “My father died from prostate cancer. I also lost my oldest brother Glen and my second brother Haddie to prostate cancer. Four of my brothers have it now, including our youngest in the family, Keith.”

Mr Miller shared his journey with hopes that other men who need to get tested will step forward and help save their own lives.

“I had prostate cancer, went through the full treatment,” he selflessly shared.

“Men not wanting the finger exam is one thing. But when they hear they may not be able to function (like a man should), they don’t want to take that chance.”

Mr Miller beat prostate cancer and survived to tell the story. He had to put aside the fear of losing his libido, or any other issue men usually have, and value his life above them all.

His journey to beating the cancer took 18 months to three years to complete. After his initial screening, and considering his family history, Mr Miller’s doctor removed 12 pieces from his prostate and sent them to the United States for testing. Results came back two weeks later.

With a prostate cancer diagnosis, Mr Miller knew that his next set of decisions could mean the difference between life and death.

“I want to say this to men,” Mr Miller said, “When you see yourself going to the bathroom ten, 12 times a day and only half of the pee coming out, you know you have a problem. By the time most men in The Bahamas go to the doctor, it’s already too late.The cancer has spread into other parts of the body… then they’re really in trouble.”

“You go to the doctor, and you say ‘Doc, I wanna be able to pee properly’. The doctor says it’s enlarged. Some people take pills. But I didn’t have time to waste.”

A close friend of his who had already gone through the process provided great encouragement and insight. Mr Miller traveled to Florida to undergo a 45-minute operation, optimistic that he could beat the cancer and enjoy many more happy years with his family.

“I flew over, and I took my two daughters with me,” he shared.

“They use a gun (of sorts) with a small tube attached to it. They shoot (the medicine) through the (urethra). They numb the area before they shoot it off. You dont feel anything. Pieces of (the cancer) were just coming out. Leslia and Yasmin didn’t last two minutes! They couldn’t take the sight of it. But I just let the (doctors and nurses) do what they had to do and I watched TV. that has a small tube office. Has a gun with a small tube through your penis and you can watch tv. They numb the area while they shoot it off.you dont feel anything. They put a bag on you (that collects the urine), then you go home and get some rest. . You have to stay in town for four days. The first day, you do the procedure. Then you have three days to go shopping with your family and just relax.

“Back in Nassau, I saw my regular doctor, Dr Evans, and he took the bag off.”

“I had to take some shots,” he said, as he raised his shirt and showed me the marks.

“Every three months, you get a shot - over a period of 18 months to keep the cancer at bay.”

“I went to Dr Conville Brown and I did radiation five days a week for six weeks. The first four weeks, I spent 15 to 18 minutes on the machine. People said, ‘Oh! Your back is going to turn black and scaly. They would say all kinds of things. But don’t believe them. In the first month of the treatment, I didn’t feel any pain or anything. The last two weeks were more intense. You get the treatment for 22 minutes. That’s when they go straight to the point of the cancer.”

“At some point during this process, your doctor is going to say, ‘You know you won’t have an erection’. When fellas hear that, they go crazy. That’s the main reason that 90 percent of men won’t get the treatment. You ask the doctor, ‘How long’, and he says, ‘It may be long’. Long meaning, two to three years. I have friends who died, who would not take this treatment.”

Mr Miller continued: “Dr Evans said to me, ‘Do what you have to do or you will leave this world and where you go, you won’t be needing (your libido). So make up your mind!”

“It wasn’t as bad as you think! When you are doing this treatment, the medicine is doing its work and your brain knows what is going on to heal the body. The mind sends signals to your body and you don’t have any urges at all. You won’t have any cravings and you won’t miss it. About 18 months later, (your libido) returns.”

“You just have to go through the process. I would rather wake up every day than to be in a coffin,” he said.

“God gave us this precious gift called life. Make the best of it. Why leave here earlier than He has written in the calendar for you. Don’t let people discourage you from doing something that could save your life. Do it for your family.”

Leslie O Miller, affectionately known as the “People’s Potcake”, was born on March 24, 1948, to Sybil Lockhart and Leroy Miller. He is an inductee into the National Sports Hall of fame for his prowess as a track and field athlete. He was a long-standing Member of Parliament for the Tall Pines constituency, and he has served in several Cabinet Ministerial posts, including Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources.

Comments

ExposedU2C 1 week, 6 days ago

He has nothing to worry about because only the good die young.

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