OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

Prostate Cancer Patient Stories

Bryce Olson's story

"I’m going to fight this thing as long as I can"

Bryce Olson was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2014 at age 45. Since then, the Intel executive, husband and father of a young daughter has been on a quest to not only live longer but to help the Knight Cancer Institute find breakthroughs for other patients. Read more about Olson, his care at the Knight Cancer Institute, and about Intel’s partnership with OHSU to speed up tumor analysis so cancers can be targeted at the molecular level.

Bob Chamberlain's story

Enjoying grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Bob Chamberlain

Can you imagine being afraid to move or even inhale, for fear of the excruciating pain that would radiate from your back with every breath? Between mid-September 1981 and mid-January 1982, this was my life. The pain, coupled with a strange lack of any feeling at my left belt line, led me to seek answers about what might be wrong. I eventually learned that I had prostate cancer.

When I received a phone call about my diagnosis on Jan. 2, 1982, my cancer had already metastasized; my team of five doctors wasn’t optimistic about my chances, suggesting that I had perhaps six to nine months to live. After receiving that fateful phone call, the first thing that went through my mind was, “I’ll never see any grandkids.” That’s what saddened me most.

In 1985, after three years under the care of a Tualatin urologist, I was declared cancer-free. I spent the next 25 years in relatively good health — the back pain was long gone — but was once again diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007. This time around, I was referred to Dr. Tomasz Beer, deputy director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. He asked if I would be interested in joining a clinical trial. I went on to take part in two clinical trials and later started taking enzalutamide.

The tremendous care I have received at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute has allowed me to continue teaching driver education courses for about 10 to 15 hours each week, as well as run a small publishing business out of my home.

I never imagined that I would be here, more than 32 years later, leading a happy, normal life. I owe a world of thanks to Tomasz Beer and his team of doctors, nurses and staff members at the Knight Cancer Institute who made me feel valued throughout the past seven years of treatments. I’m also grateful to my wife, Marilyn, for the support she’s given me during these life-altering ordeals. I’m grateful I was able to be here to enjoy seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They’re a huge part of our lives, and I couldn’t be more thankful. And last but not least, I give thanks for the Lord who touched my life through men like my urologist, Dr. Beer and others who brought their skills, training, wisdom and friendship to bear on my life. I have witnessed that the “I Care” button that many OHSU people wear is more than a slogan; it is borne out in their dealing with patients like me.

Randy Boles' story

Knight Cancer doctor “gave me hope”

Randy Boles and his daughter.

The three years before I first came to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute were among the most difficult of my life.

I'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007 and began treatment at another institution, to little effect. But despite the ongoing health struggles, I enjoyed loving, positive support from family and friends. My wife, Paula, joined me at all of my countless appointments, and my daughters Amy, Angi, Haley and their families have always been there with love and supportive input.

Surgery was not successful, radiation was a shot in the dark, and the drugs I took weren't keeping my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels at bay. I became wary when my doctor suggested hormonal treatments. Unsure about the drug's side effects, I sought other opinions.

Intrigued by Knight Cancer Institute advertisements, as well as Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny's donations to the institute, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Christopher Amling. Over the next four years, I also received treatment from Dr. Tomasz Beer, deputy director of the Knight Cancer Institute, and Dr. Joshi Alumkal, who co-led the institute's Prostate Cancer Research Program with Dr. Beer.

I was immediately struck by Dr. Beer's optimism and upbeat attitude. He gave me hope by discussing his prostate cancer research and mentioning the research that other Knight Cancer doctors were doing to treat this disease. He later introduced me to other doctors, and I was immediately excited by the teamwork. When I expressed concerns about hormonal treatments, Drs. Beer and Alumkal reassured me. I eventually began a hormone protocol and later enrolled in a Phase III clinical trial that studies a hormonal therapy called ARN-509.

With such an enthusiastic, optimistic team, I've never felt like I'm fighting cancer alone. I have a lot of people in my corner helping me through this battle, and that encouragement gives me hope. That includes Cathy Weeks, an OHSU counselor who talked me through the ups and downs, and Kimberly Carson, whose OHSU-sponsored Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction yoga program helped my mental and physical well-being.

When I first arrived at Knight Cancer, I was told that this diagnosis didn't have to be "doom and gloom."  I was told, by every doctor I talked to, that this was a tenable situation. They were right all along. I often wonder if I actually chose the Knight Cancer Institute. The sincere concern of the staff at every level makes me feel that the Knight Cancer Institute chose me.