Like many men, Isadore Wayne Sr. first found out he had prostate cancer when blood work from a routine physical exam showed that his PSA levels were elevated. A biopsy confirmed what the blood test suggested: stage 3 prostate cancer.
At 46 years old, in 2002, Isadore had just retired from a 25-year career as a delivery driver for UPS. He was looking forward to watching his two school-aged boys grow up. The last thing he expected was to become a cancer patient. He was overwhelmed, angry, and felt alone.
After consulting with doctors, Isadore decided to have a prostatectomy, which was performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Upon returning home, while adjusting to his new identity as a cancer survivor, Isadore was surprised to learn that there were few support options available to him in the St. Louis, MO, area.
A few years later, at a charity event, he met a fellow prostate cancer survivor named Mellve Shahid, who shared his frustration with the lack of support for prostate cancer survivors. In 2007, the two men teamed up and started The Empowerment Network, a support and educational group for prostate cancer survivors and their families in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Around that same time, Isadore’s PSA began to rise again, so he went on a hormone treatment called leuprolide (Eligard®), designed to block androgen production. Then, in 2011, he was treated with sipuleucel-T (Provenge®), a dendritic cell-based therapeutic cancer vaccine that is meant to enlist the immune system in the fight against prostate cancer.
Isadore is now 57 and still going strong. When TheAnswertoCancer (TheA2C) caught up with him, he was busy planning his wedding with his fiancée, Martha.
TheA2C: Tell us how you got involved with The Empowerment Network.
Isadore: The Empowerment Network is a group of prostate cancer survivors that provides support and education and advocacy for prostate cancer in the St. Louis metropolitan area. It started out with myself and the other cofounder, Mellve Shahid. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007.
In St. Louis, there was nowhere to go to get support and so we started supporting each other. At that time, I was a 5- or 6-year survivor, and he would ask me, “Did you go through this?” And I would say, “Yes, I had that”—meaning the different types of side effects from surgery or whatever. And so we decided to start a little support group. And from there it just grew and grew and grew and now we've got our own radio show. We're getting ready to start a health education television program. We also do prostate cancer education throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.
We have a visitation team that goes out and visits men who are going through prostate cancer surgery on the day of the surgery. We'll be there supporting the patients before they go into surgery and present them with a package of everything they will need when they come home from surgery. Things that they don't think they're going to need. It's called the After‑Surgery Kit.
As a matter of fact, tomorrow I've got to be up at 5 o'clock in the morning to go meet a guy who’s having surgery at one of the local hospitals.
TheA2C: That's amazing. Do you know the gentleman you’ll be visiting?
Isadore: No, we get referrals. The doctors refer the patients to us once they've been diagnosed with prostate cancer. And we take them in and follow them through treatment and bring them into our support group as a prostate cancer survivor, and let them know that prostate cancer is not a death sentence.
TheA2C: Why do you think there has been so much interest in your support group?
Isadore: When a man is going through prostate cancer, what better person to talk to than another prostate cancer survivor? You can't talk to anybody else, except maybe your doctor, because nobody else would know what you're going through.
No matter what a patient is going through, we've got somebody here in the group who has been through it already and can tell them what happened when they went through it and possibly give them advice on how to cope.
TheA2C: What do you think is the most common misconception or misunderstanding about prostate cancer among men?
Isadore: The biggest misconception of prostate cancer among men is that most men think that if they have prostate cancer, they're going to be impotent; they're not going to be able to have sex anymore. Those are their biggest fears, I've found out. We always tell them at The Empowerment Network that there's life after prostate cancer.