RICHMOND, Va. -- The pastor of one of Richmond’s largest churches says he’s now a cancer survivor.
Dr. Lance Watson revealed his recent experience with prostate cancer before thousands on Sunday at St. Paul’s Baptist Church.
Today, he’s hoping to encourage others to talk about the challenges and about prevention.
Dr. Watson spoke candidly about his emotions when he was first told about his diagnosis.
He told his church members that after undergoing a six hour surgery at The Mayo Clinic, he is now cancer free. Dr. Watson said he beat the odds and it was due largely in part to his faith and family support.
“Everybody has a cross to carry," he said. "Everyone has a trial to endure,” Watson said. One of his toughest battles would be a year-long struggle with prostate cancer.
The thought that he’d lost both parents, grandmothers and three siblings to cancer wasn’t far from his mind. However, Dr. Watson says at his lowest moments he dug deep and held tight to his faith.
The pastor says he found out, like other cancer survivors, that the role of his wife and family as caregivers was crucial.
“There were moments when I wanted to retreat into self-pity and say why me?" Watson said,"I try to be a good guy.
"She wouldn’t have any of it," he expained about his wife Rose, who he calls his biggest cheerleader, and top care giver. She said she learned how crucial it is for wives, mothers and other female caregivers to stand strong, listen and stay focused on getting their loved ones back on a healthy track.
“Focus your mind," Rose said. "Fear will take you places you don’t want to go."
"You really have to have faith and pray," she said.
The Watsons' vow to educate others about the impact of prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society this year expects 233,000 new cases will be diagnosed and 29,480 men will die from the disease. Like Watson, one in five African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
He said as long as he has this national and international platform, he’ll use his toughest life test as a testimony to others.
“I’m hoping they will see my example and be influenced to be aggressive about their health and not be afraid. I want them to take the steps necessary,” Watson said.