Life Extension Magazine June 2003
One Man's Ten-Year Ordeal
It is a rare individual who can so eloquently chronicle a disease that their personal essay becomes a lead editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Such is the case of Professor Harold Harrod, who authored a fascinating description of the emotional and physical challenges he endured after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993.
The educational vividness of this editorial was so exceptional, that Life Extension Foundation purchased the right to re-print it from the American Medical Association. Life Extension felt compelled to memorialize Dr. Harrod's story for the purpose of encouraging greater emphasis on finding a cure for prostate cancer. The reason for this urgency is that microscopic cancer is found in the prostate beginning by age 30 in about 20% of men, and the incidence increases steadily so that by the time a man is 90 years old, he has almost a 100% chance of having cancer in his prostate1. While most of these men do not develop clinically significant disease, this high prevalence mandates more aggressive actions be taken to eradicate today's prostate cancer epidemic.
Dr. Harrod's essay makes it empathetically apparent that a perfect life can be turned upside down upon a cancer diagnosis. As is the case with many cancers, the treatments can be as bad as the disease itself. The one advantage with prostate cancer is that it can be detected early enough so that aggressive treatments do not have to ruin one's life. The downside is that so many men will develop it.
People tend to live in a state of denial when it comes to health disasters like cancer...until it strikes them! While 1500 Americans perish from cancer every day, the media and politicians focus on issues that affect relatively few individuals.
The United States was turned upside down by 3000 people who were murdered at the World Trade Center, yet this represents only two days worth of cancer deaths. The government has allocated virtually unlimited resources to preventing future terrorist attacks, while ignoring the 952,000 Americans who have died of cancer since September 11, 2001.
Cancer research has long been economically linked to politics, but there has been no grass roots campaign to educate members of Congress about the need for more research dollars to find a cure for cancer. Life Extension believes that Dr. Harrod's essay may motivate Congressional leaders to prioritize cancer research! Life Extension members are encouraged to photocopy Dr. Harrod's article and send it to their Congressional representative with a request that more monies be allocated to finding a cure for cancer. To find the name and address of your Congressional representative, just call 1-202-225-3121 or go to www.house.gov. Dr. Harrod's two-page editorial titled An Essay on Desire appears on the next page.
Following his editorial is an article by Stephen B. Strum M.D., a medical oncologist who has focused his practice on prostate cancer for twenty years. His article describes the early diagnosis and prevention of prostate cancer.
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1. Peehl DM. Vitamin D and prostate cancer risk. Eur Urol 1999;35(5-6):392-4.