Carroll DeWeese cancer update: Still ticketed for Sacramento

Carroll DeWeese

“Life is too fascinating to waste,” writes Carroll DeWeese, replying to my latest inquiry on his cancer fight. “I want to enjoy life to the max and contribute to those about me until I am no longer capable. . . . I have my plane tickets for the USATF MTF Championships at Sacramento this summer.” The current issue of National Masters News carries a letter from Carroll about his illness, and it prompted me to check up on him. He again shares the nitty gritty details. The following Q&A isn’t always pleasant, but it’s instructive. Here is a man of courage and honesty. Carroll wrote: “I was once told that the most certain way to win a world championship is to outlive every other competitor so that you are the only one left. Maybe I will be a world champion one day!” That’s the spirit. Are you done with the external beam radiation? What was this regimen like?

Carroll DeWeese: I am finished with external beam radiation. The patient (me) lies down on a narrow table inside of radiation equipment that encircles and goes around the patient as it gives varying doses of radiation from different positions. It is similar to being inside of a large donut except the “donut” is not solid and has openings. The patient must stay perfectly still for at least 10 minutes straight while they receive radiation.

To insure that they are in the correct position, the patient is given three small, permanent tattoos (each hip and the stomach) at the first session. They are used to align the patient and insure the patient is in exactly the same position at each session and throughout each session.

Once each week, tests are done to insure that nothing in the treatment of the patient has changed (e.g. lost or gained weight or otherwise) and everything is recalibrated if some change is noted. To me the process is restful and I have no problem lying still during the treatments. I just meditate. I was treated once each day for every week day for five weeks straight.

Did the 5-week beaming seem to help? What are doctors telling you?

It is too soon to know how much impact the internal radiation, external radiation, and hormones have had on the cancer. It will be about three more weeks before the doctors and I will get PSA results and our first indications of what impact we are having on the cancer. We will not have any certainty until many months have passed and trends can be discerned.

Toward the end of the external radiation, my energy level started to drop although I stayed very active. I developed a severe rash that seems related to my body’s reaction to the radiation. Each morning and night continuing for at least several more weeks I take various combinations of pills and apply a steroidal cream on the rash. It is getting much better.

What’s your strength these days? Are you feeling normal at times?

My strength is very good. If you did not know that I was being treated for cancer, you would not know that anything is wrong with me. Externally I act and look “normal.” Current side effects of the treatment are loss of sex drive and capacity and having to get up to go to the bathroom many times each night. These side effects are hidden from everyone but my wife.

Where do you go for treatment?

I went to Beaumont Hospital for treatment. I have a friend that had a less aggressive form of prostate cancer before me. He talked with lots of doctors and looked at lots of options. His legwork really helped me. I talked to the most highly recommended prostate surgeon, prostate radiologist and other doctors on my case. All were in agreement of the specifics of my case and my options.

Having surgery to remove the prostate and the area around it would still leave me with at least a thirty percent chance of not getting all the cancer. I would then have to have radiation and other treatments anyway. The combination of internal radiation to kill the cancer in the prostate, external radiation to kill and weaken cancer around the prostate and female hormones to starve the cancer wherever it existed in my body appeared to be the best option. I would be stronger and my body should tolerate all the treatments better.

Who are your main doctors?

Dr. Ghiliezan, who has done internal and external radiation in France and the US for 20 years, is handling the radiation related therapy. Dr. Rubenstein is handling the female hormone treatments. Sara Casey, a research nurse, is working with various doctors for the research study. Many other doctors and medical personnel are involved. “It takes a community.”

What are you doing for fun these days?

Life is fun. I am doing my “normal” routine. I am doing daily photography and other work for the Birmingham Eccentric and many museums, libraries and historical societies in southeast Michigan. I am an active member of the Birmingham Planning Board, my homeowners association, Friends of Barnum Park, and other community activities. I have an active athletics officiating schedule in both the USA and Canada for both “able-bodied” and “disabled” competitions. I am active as a member of the WMA Non-Stadia Committee and being the USATF MTF Treasurer. As a member of the USATF Officials Rules Committee, I am working on new race walk officiating exams for USATF official’s certification.

My wife, Pam, who is my best friend and companion, and I are doing and planning much together. I am also involved with many friends. My son and his girlfriend will be visiting Pam and me in two weeks. If I see a need and I can work it into my schedule, I get involved. It is all fun. Challenges just add to the interest.

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May 9, 2010

3 Responses

  1. Tom Phillips - May 9, 2010

    The post has just brought me the latest edition of National Masters News from the US, and it contains an article by Carroll that I believe is THE best and most inspiring article about health, life and Masters that I have ever read. Carroll, I’ve never met you, but I’m rooting for you. Ken, keep us in touch with this champion.

  2. Jeff Davison - May 9, 2010

    Thank you to Carroll for all that you have been doing for Masters Track & Field!

  3. Cornell - May 9, 2010

    Your spirit is tremendous and I wish you only the best!

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