Clarence Williamson
Clarence Williamson
(Photo Provided)

Clarence Williamson was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the “young” age of 53. A routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test revealed his PSA levels had doubled within six months. Despite having lost many family members to various forms of cancer, Clarence had no symptoms or discomfort and was ill-prepared when he heard the words, “You have prostate cancer.” With help from his wife, Paulette, he decided to get a second opinion. The results from a third PSA test were double that of the previous one, not only confirming his initial diagnosis, but now indicating he may have an aggressive form of prostate cancer. After consulting with his doctor, researching treatment options, and spending many hours in prayer, Clarence opted for a radical prostatectomy in 1998. Despite his early diagnosis and treatment decision, Clarence has had an ongoing battle with his prostate cancer, including multiple recurrences and the development of bone metastases. Thankfully, however, hormone therapy has kept his PSA level undetectable, and he continues this treatment routine to this day.

Although he continues to battle prostate cancer, Clarence is focused on enjoying his life to the fullest and realizes how fortunate he has been. His positive attitude coupled with a sincere desire to help others with their own prostate cancer journeys inspired Clarence to become involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraising efforts in 2009. In addition, since 2013 he has served as President of the Memphis Man2Man Prostate Cancer Support Group, which provides encouragement and informational services to newly diagnosed men, prostate cancer survivors, and their partners through monthly Zoom meetings, social media sites, speaking engagements, and awareness events. After his support group joined Us TOO International, Clarence learned about the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. This information revealed an opportunity for him to become a consumer reviewer, which led to Clarence serving on his first panel in 2019. When asked to describe his experience as a consumer reviewer, Clarence said it is “challenging, yet stimulating, and extremely fulfilling.”

Scientific investigators often have a difficult time conveying the importance of their research to non-scientists; however, this is essential for the consumer reviewers. In light of this, Clarence appreciates that his professional experience as a chemist gives him an edge in grasping the information more fully and helps him articulate the potential impact of the research proposals to patients like him and the community he represents. Being an African American man, Clarence is keenly aware of the impact that prostate cancer has on his community, and he can offer his personal experiences to the review process. Working alongside the scientific reviewers on these panels, Clarence has gained an increased respect for their wealth of knowledge, and he is awestruck by their dedication to the mission.

Since his initial diagnosis more than 24 years ago, Clarence’s experience as a prostate cancer patient, support group leader, and PCRP consumer reviewer has provided a clear view of the leaps and bounds that have taken place in prostate cancer research. With additional U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments now available, and new research ideas being proposed each day, Clarence truly believes in the bright future of prostate cancer research, which he knows will help save more lives and improve the well-being of families affected by prostate cancer.

Last updated Thursday, September 22, 2022