Faces Behind Blood and Tissue Samples

Categories: Spring 2005

Prostate cancer research samples are much more than tissue stored in a freezer at a research center.
Behind each sample is a person, a life story and a family history.

faces McCammon 1

The McCammons

Carol: My husband, Dr. Robert McCammon died this January.

My husband had prostate cancer; his father had prostate cancer; and my husband’s brother is being treated for prostate cancer. Two of the diagnoses happened when they were in their late 50’s and one in his early 60’s.

Because we have three sons and three grandsons, we need to understand all we can. We want everyone in the family to send blood samples to Dr. Catalona.

To us, it seems crucial that we participate, for the sake of our family as well as for other families.

The Browns

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Connel: My family has three generations of prostate cancer, that we know of: my son, my brother, my father and myself.

My reason for giving blood and tissue samples to Dr. Catalona is very personal. With three generations and my being a geneticist, I know how important it is for me and my family to be part of his research.

I admire Dr. Catalona’s approach to prostate cancer research. I can’t think of anyone else I would like to have directing the use of my samples.

My hope is that Dr. Catalona’s research reveals the designation of a gene or genes that could be looked at in the earlier life of young men to let them be alert and tested for early diagnosis.

faces CraigBrown 1

Craig: One family member died of prostate cancer before we were connected with Dr. Catalona. I feel he saved the others, including me.

Dr. Catalona is the visionary physician-scientist who has led the world in research and understanding related to the biochemical basis of prostate cancer.

I would soon like to see the day when immune therapies can be developed to cure prostate cancer and, even sooner, be used to stop it if it recurs after surgery.

My hope is with these tissues samples, Dr. Catalona and his research colleagues will discover the genetic and hormonal basis of tumors and then vaccines and other antibody therapies can be developed to cure the disease without surgery.

The Hrodeys

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Bob: Bob: Dr. Catalona was in the forefront of PSA testing and bringing that method of testing to the public. After my diagnosis and surgery, I wanted to help with his continued work and it appeared that work would be in the area of genetics, with blood and tissue samples.

I’d like to see Dr. Catalona and his colleagues get to the point where they detect prostate cancer even sooner and can assure even higher rates of survival.

I was only 54 when diagnosed and I’ve seen many other men that age and younger diagnosed in the past five years. For younger men with CaP, the disease, untreated, is likely to be the cause of death; that is, without early detection, we would be dying of rather than with it. For us, early detection is truly a lifesaver.

I know that the lowering of the PSA threshold for biopsy from 4 to 2.5 has caused some concern that prostate cancers could be detected too early and thereby be over treated. I believe Dr. Catalona’s research can put that fear to rest. It’s important to prove once and for all that early detection saves lives.

The Longs

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Leonard: At first, I volunteered to be part of Dr. Catalona’s PSA study in the late 80’s because I wanted to contribute something to society.

I thought the research for prostate cancer was important, and I wanted to be part of it.

I never thought my participation would save my life, but it did. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Now, due mostly to that study, most men know how important PSA testing is.

Dr. Catalona began his PSA research and his collecting of samples for research before anyone else. And I can see the results of his work, in my own life and in more effective methods for treatment and diagnosis.

I did contribute something to society by giving my samples to Dr. Catalona for research, and I want him to continue his research work with them.

The Pollacks

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Jim: I was 43 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer; I’m 46 now. My father died of cancer when he was 68, and he had been struggling with it for some years. I’m not sure that he had ever had a PSA test or a DRE until the cancer had spread everywhere.

My uncle on my mother’s side is being treated for prostate cancer. My mother died of cancer just a few months ago.

It appears that we have a familial connection to cancer on both sides of my family. I’m hoping that my participation in Dr. Catalona’s blood and tissue sample research benefits our next generation. Also, I’m encouraging my 25-year-old son to get his baseline test now.

Because of my family history, I took the PSA test early. My feeling is that the early detection saved my life, and the better doctors and tests become at early and sensitive detection, the better we’re going to be. I know that everyone doesn’t think that way. I’m hoping that Dr. Catalona’s research shows what a lifesaver early detection is.

Val: I know genetic research is important for a breakthrough for the male population, but I’m also interested in the research for the connection of prostate cancer and breast cancer. And now Dr. Catalona’s research studies include women of the family when the men have prostate cancer.

The Meeks

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Carletos: I was 49 when I had surgery for prostate cancer. I was diagnosed when I was in Dr. Catalona’s PSA Study.

Dr. Catalona told me to tell my siblings to get tested. A younger brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a RRP at 47 years old.

Now, my two brothers and my sister are participating in Dr. Catalona’s Familial Prostate Cancer Study. My hope is that Dr. Catalona and the scientists who do research with him find out what causes prostate cancer.

My family and I want to do whatever is needed to help Dr. Catalona in his research to find a cure for prostate cancer.


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