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Robert Johnson always has an annual physical exam and attends the prostate cancer screening offered at his local hospital. “African-American men are more susceptible to prostate cancer, so if I have a problem, I want to catch it early.”

Robert Johnson

His screening results showed an elevated PSA, so Johnson visited a local urologist in New Bern. After several biopsies, Johnson learned that he had a slow growing tumor. His urologist suggested he see UNC’s Dr. Eric Wallen to determine possible treatment options. “When I visited with Dr. Wallen, he educated me about prostate cancer and gave me hope. He told me about a clinical trial for which I might qualify. I prayed about it and asked for God’s guidance.”

Johnson enrolled in the trial of a new way to treat prostate cancer called High Frequency Ultrasound (HIFU). “The procedure lasted two hours, and I went home the same day.” He sees his participation as “a way to help and encourage others. I hope the treatment works for me, but I also want it to pave the way for a new option for men diagnosed with this disease.”

Johnson says that when growing up, his attitude was “whatever my lot is, I’m willing to accept it. When I learned I had prostate cancer, I said to myself, ‘Why not me?’ I’m glad it happened when it did so I could move quickly to seek help. With God’s help, I can face this disease and help others too.”

Due to his diagnosis, he has taken time away from his work as pastor of Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in New Bern, a job he has held for 29 years. He lives in New Bern with his wife, Martha, and their sons, Robert Emmanuel and Jordan Isaiah.

“I have strong family support,” Johnson says. “When I told my children that I had cancer, they said, “Daddy, we stand with you.’ My church family has lifted me up. Through God’s grace, I will be healed.”

Johnson describes his UNC care team as “awesome. They’re very caring and respectful. When I visit everyone embraces me with love, concern and support. That’s unique.”