Fred A.

Prostate Cancer - Stage 4

Fred Allen

I wanted to go somewhere where they specialized in cancer. I did my research, and just about every person I talked to suggested or recommended City of Hope. They told me that it was a hospital that specialized in cancer, and that it offered comprehensive health care, meaning I could have my scans, blood work and treatments done and work with my supportive care providers, like my dietitian, all in the same building.

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results. 

In 2007, I wasn’t expecting a prostate cancer diagnosis when I agreed to have my PSA tested to help promote a local church health fair for homeless men. This kind of community activity was part of my mission as an Arkansas state legislator and health care advocate. I had been to the doctor just six months earlier and was told everything looked good. However, after the health fair, I was directed to consult a physician because my PSA level was suspicious. After a biopsy, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 54. I was completely shocked. 

At first, I only told my daughter, Camille, but after choosing a treatment method—robotic surgery—I decided to share my diagnosis with more people. Midway between elections, I went public to both my family and my legislative friends. My main concern, though, was making sure the cancer didn’t recur.

I completed roughly a year of treatment, including 40 rounds of radiation. Everything remained stable. But two years later, my PSA levels began to rise. I was recently engaged to be married and considering running for re-election. I was heartbroken. All of my life’s plans were in jeopardy. 

I had completed scans that revealed that the cancer had metastasized in my body. I made a decision that I needed to see if there were other treatment options available to me. I wanted to find a facility that specialized in cancer. One day, I was talking to a friend, and she recommended Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA).* She had seen the commercials on television, and she had done research to look into it for me. So I called and spoke to someone at CTCA®. They talked to me about how the hospital could help me. They told me that they would make the travel arrangements for me, obtain insurance verification and get my medical records. I decided to go and at least check it out.

Finding hopeful options

In 2013, I arrived at CTCA in Newnan, Georgia, and met with my medical oncologist and care team. I told my multidisciplinary team that I came to CTCA because I wanted to extend my life and I wasn’t ready to give up. I completed tests and scans so that my doctors could fully understood the extent of my cancer. The results of the scans came back, and it was revealed that I had stage 4 prostate cancer that had metastasized to the bone. My cancer had spread to my neck, back, rib cage and spinal cord. The team educated me about my cancer, presented treatment options and allowed me to ask lots of questions. Then, working together as a team, we formulated a treatment plan that was personalized to me. They knew that it was important for me to maintain my quality of life so I could accomplish the goals and objectives that I had set for myself and for my community.

My care team collaboratively prepared a personalized, compassionate and aggressive cancer-fighting plan that helped me live my life. During my cancer-fighting journey, I had hormone therapy and chemotherapy, and radiation to relieve back pain. I also underwent a bilateral mastectomy for cosmetic reasons, and my team has supported me spiritually and physically at every step. Any side effects from treatment were immediately addressed, and I was encouraged to move forward with my personal plans and career goals. My care team gave me real hope. They even worked with my schedule because I was going through an election. My care team allowed me to briefly delay some treatment options until my election was over, and my team of doctors put together an innovative cancer treatment regimen for me.

The extraordinary multidisciplinary care and treatment that I received was impressive. Instead of being treated like an ordinary patient, I was treated like a valued partner in my health care decisions. Everyone, including doctors, nurses, supportive therapists and other employees, consistently demonstrated an unprecedented attitude of hope, hospitality and humanity. Discover more facts about prostate cancer.

A second chance

I believe that when people work together, anything is possible. I’ve learned that it is true for both health care and politics. I’m state representative for District 30 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I serve in the General Assembly, and we make laws for the state of Arkansas. We have to listen to the people in the state to understand what they need and want and then work together for the common good of the people. Going through cancer has made me a better representative for my state and country. I learned to listen more to my constituents, and I’ve learned to work with both parties to get things done. I have learned not to let little things bother me anymore. Life is good, and every day that I live is proof of that.

I’m so thankful to CTCA for working with me and providing me a multidisciplinary team to integrate physical, emotional and spiritual aspects into my care. Despite feeling hopeless and emotionally drained when I arrived at CTCA with stage 4 cancer, my care team and the hospital staff reinforced positivity. We celebrated milestones with bell-ringing ceremonies, and they always told me not to give up. I’m grateful to CTCA for the encouragement and the care.  

For me, today, cancer is like a chronic disease. I still have stage 4 cancer, and I return to CTCA once a month for treatment. The disease probably will never go away, but I am learning to manage it and live with it gracefully. I am continuing to do the things that I normally would do every day. It is really important to me to live a normal life, so I can accomplish my goals and objectives. I love spending time with my family and enjoying the outdoors.

I am truly thankful for the God-given opportunity for a second chance at living. I also have a second chance to make a real difference in the lives and health of the people in my community and state. I have accomplished a lot in my lifetime, but I still have more to do.

* Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®, working together to expand patient access to personalized, comprehensive cancer care. Because this patient testimonial was written and published before CTCA® and City of Hope joined forces, mentions of legacy CTCA locations have not been updated in the interest of maintaining the patient’s original voice and story details.