Prostate Cancer Survivor
In 2004 Barney was a law enforcement officer and member of the Air Force Reserve when he had a routine screening for prostate cancer. Despite being in excellent health, his PSA results came back high for a man of 41. A biopsy confirmed he had prostate cancer.
Barney’s prostate was removed, but soon after he received a phone call from his radiation oncologist indicating his cancer had spread to his skeletal system and the expected treatment of salvage radiation would not be initiated. Instead, Barney was told he would go on hormone treatment and, based on the current studies at the time, probably had 4-5 years to live. The news brought this military man with a wife and three young kids to tears. “It hit me all at once,” he recalls.
Yet something about the prognosis bothered him. Barney had kept all his lab results and spotted the abnormality on his skeletal system—but noticed it hadn’t changed in a year. After consulting with a different oncologist who agreed, he went to Moffitt Cancer Center.
His Moffitt doctor performed a biopsy, which came back negative; it had not metastasized to his skeletal system. To eliminate his prostate cancer, Barney underwent seven weeks of targeted radiation. Finally, great news: his cancer was gone. Smiling and confident, he says, “The rest is history. I’m still here.”
Barney was impressed not only by the precision treatment Moffitt was able to offer, but also their personalized approach. “When I go in there, it’s, ‘Hey Barney, how you doing? How are the kids?’ They really get to know the person,” he says. It bolstered his courage that together with Moffitt, he could win his fight—and outlive his original prognosis.
His personal experience with cancer—being proactive about getting checked and asking questions along the way—inspired Barney to be a full-time advocate for cancer patients.
“You have to be a part of your treatment team,” he says. “By doing that research on your own, you go in with a basic understanding of your disease and can have that dialogue [with doctors].”
Barney is most passionate about volunteering—in particular, educating the community about the importance of preventative care. He’s president of 100 Black Men in Tampa Bay, an organization whose focus includes health and wellness among the underserved community.
As a well-informed cancer survivor, he has a unique platform to get people’s attention. He explains, “From my research, I can articulate the studies and the results of those studies, and how important it is to get treatment or to get those tests early.
“Don’t just wait,” Barney advises. “I really echo that when I’m talking to crowds. I say, ‘Don’t wait until you’re sick.’” His advice—and his courageous story—are making an impact.