Clinical Trials Give Patients Access to New and Often Better Treatments!
Clinical Trials Save Lives!
What do you do after a devastating diagnosis of advanced, aggressive prostate cancer? Fight like heck! And that’s exactly what my husband Douglas and I did. I can still hear the words from the doctor – cancer in every portion of the prostate; it’s aggressive. We can offer you Lupron, but there’s not much more we can do. What are you saying to me? No! My husband deserves better; there is more and we will find it!
Douglas Christopher Stewart was a loving, kind, compassionate man of God. He was a big man with a big heart. He was a father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and friend. Doug was a lifelong educator who committed his life to helping at-risk youth achieve success in school and life. He loved sports, especially football. He played both college and semi-pro football, and he also coached high school football for many years. Doug was an amazing role model for his children and for the children he served in our school district. In every aspect of his life, Doug was a true servant-leader. He was my superman, was my best friend, my soulmate, and the love of my life.
“This trial might not help me, but I want to do it for my sons.”
I almost lost it when we were confronted with the devastating diagnosis of advanced, aggressive prostate cancer. But I knew Doug needed me, he deserved my best, and I had to get myself together to walk this journey with him side-by-side. Driven by our faith in God and our unconditional love for each other, we set out on a journey to find a better treatment option; one that could possibly serve as a cure or at least extend his life. After a thorough investigation, we were led to MD Anderson, in Houston, Texas. The doctors at MD Anderson offered hope, compassion, encouragement, and considering what we were offered at home, that was enough for us to move forward. Shortly after the initial appointment, Doug started the paperwork for a clinical trial. The focus of the trial was to gain an understanding of why the prostate cancer rate is higher in the African-American community, why black men suffer from the most aggressive forms, and why the outcomes are not as promising in comparison to other sub-groups. Once we connected with the clinical trial doctor, we had some difficult conversations. He was honest but still hopeful. When presented with the decision to back out or move forward, Doug was a “go”. With unbelievable strength and conviction, he said “this trial might not help me, but I want to do it for my sons.”
The Journey Forward
Doug approached his time at MD Anderson with such a positive attitude; he won the hearts of the doctors, nurses, clinical staff, and even other patients. He received many notes of encouragement and gratitude from other patients for his inspiration during some dark and difficult days. During our time in Houston, we often talked about the benefits of being a clinical trial patient, including receiving breakthrough treatment, receiving expert care, and knowing that clinical trial participation is helping other people. The latter was a major motivator for Doug. He often expressed how grateful he was to receive the treatment, but he also felt blessed to help educate the doctors and hopefully help find a cure for prostate cancer. He truly believed in the motto, “I am my brother’s keeper.”
Douglas did benefit from the trial treatments, and in reflection, I do believe his time on earth was lengthened because of the knowledge, expertise, and commitment of the Genitourinary Cancer team at MD Anderson. Sadly, on June 21, 2019, Douglas’s earthly journey ended. His story is not defined by his death but by the beautiful, purposeful, and meaningful life he lived and the unselfish and courageous way he faced a devastating cancer diagnosis. Douglas was proud of being a clinical trial patient and I know he was grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other men.
My heart still smiles when I think of you; the memories of love, laughter, happiness still flood my soul. You were my superman, my protector, my best friend. Thank you for sharing your love and life with me.
Forever and Always, Elyssa
In Memory of
Douglas Christopher Stewart: May 25, 2949 – June 19, 2020
Rest in Heaven
Elyssa shared her journey with us this past December. You can watch it here.
Clinical trials have helped hundreds of thousands of people because new, more effective treatments became available. There are many clinical trials available for patients of all types and stages of prostate cancer. For more information on clinical trials, visit www.zerocancer.org/clinicaltrials or search for clinical trials at www.clinicaltrials.gov.