Many cancer survivors feel obligated to relate their experiences, to provide a message for those who may face a similar challenge from the disease.Some feel it is a way to give back, to offer hope …
Many cancer survivors feel obligated to relate their experiences, to provide a message for those who may face a similar challenge from the disease.
Some feel it is a way to give back, to offer hope and determination after an otherwise demoralizing diagnosis.
This is true of Cleveland resident Richard "Rick" Clinton Jr., who has successfully faced his mortality and successful navigated the threat of prostate cancer.
His is a message of concern, verification, research, decision-making, and taking on the fight. His effort to defeat the disease traveled through several highs and lows.
Clinton is a relative newcomer to Cleveland, his battle with cancer beginning about the time he moved here from Chattanooga in 2014.
Clinton is an employee of the Don Ledford automobile dealership, with years of experience in the business.
This professionalism was perhaps an advantage in his battle with cancer, as he had to sell himself on what route to take in treatment. He admits there was some procrastination along the way, as he slowed down in reaching a decision on surgery.
He now feels blessed for his treatment, and the positive outcome.
Clinton grew up in the Signal Mountain community and graduated from Baylor School. He then attended Emory University in Atlanta, later transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He says his initial goal was to be a geologist, since he had been interested in the subject in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed all types of outdoor adventures.
Those plans were derailed when he "fell into" the automobile business after a summer job. He began with Chattanooga's Gregory/Dotson dealership, then went to the Mountain View Ford organization.
This was followed when he and his wife-to-be, Melissa, found a home they liked in Cleveland in 2014 and moved to Bradley County and their new residence off Mouse Creek Road.
Melissa, a team leader with Home Serve, continues to work in Chattanooga, but "Rick" joined the Don Ledford team in Cleveland. "It feels good to be a part of the Cleveland community," he said in a recent interview.
It was also in 2014 that he began his fight with prostate cancer.
During a visit to primary care physician Dr. Collin Cherry, a blood test showed Clinton had a high PSA count. "The first step was to rule out infection, then a second blood test showed the count had dropped, but not enough," said Clinton.
This was when his doctor recommended a biopsy.
At this point, Clinton said he did some research and got some consultation from experts in the field, especially from Dr. Joe Bush of the Chattanooga Outpatient Clinic.
He decided on a less invasive biopsy procedure, which he felt would provide the most accurate diagnosis. The biopsy came back at a level of 7 on the Gleason Scale, a 1 to 10 determination of the aggressiveness of the cancer cells.
A Gleason Score of 7 means the cells are abnormal and aggressive, and the disease should be addressed with some haste. This is when Clinton says he procrastinated for a period of time before making a decision for treatment.
Clinton even visited a cancer center in Atlanta as he continued to look into his options.
He then consulted with surgeon Dr. Lee Jackson, a member of the Memorial Hospital Health Partners team. His two options, he says, were radiation or surgery.
"My message to others is to make a decision, and get it done," Clinton said. He eventually decided on surgery by Dr. Jackson. With his period of delay, Clinton's cancer had increased to about 60 percent of his prostate.
Clinton's surgery lasted three to four hours, and when he awoke in post-op, Jackson said the procedure and robotic assistance were "perfect."
He says he has had few issues since the surgery, emphasizing, "I've been blessed."
Clinton returned to his original purpose for the interview, saying prostate cancer is a very serious situation. "But, with today's technology, and skill of surgeons, it is treatable, and curable," he said. "I'm an example of that."
"My message is that there will always be the fear of the unknown, and there will be the denial that it's happening to you," emphasized Clinton.
"But, although it's scary, we live in an age where cancer can be beaten."
"My message is that there will always be the fear of the unknown, and there will be the denial that it's happening to you. But, although it's scary, we live in an age where cancer can be beaten." — Rick Clinton
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