Make sure you understand what’s going to happen with your treatment, whichever approach you choose. Seek out opinions to help you make that treatment decision. And finally, make sure you have your family behind you. Cancer doesn’t just affect the person with the cancer, it affects the whole family. Help your family understand what you’re about to go through, what your prognosis is and what you’re looking at in the long term.

Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sanford J. Siegel.

Sanford J. Siegel, M.D., F.A.C.S, is a urologist and the former CEO of Chesapeake Urology. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the United Urology Group. Dr. Siegel has treated men with prostate cancer for over 30 years and never dreamed he would be diagnosed with the disease himself.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland with two really great parents. My father was a criminal attorney and my mother was a stay-at-home parent. I had two brothers — one older and one younger. I was a very average student and kind of a class clown. I never took school seriously, but from a young age, I always wanted to be a doctor. I remember when I cut my arm running around as a kid and needed stitches, I was fascinated by what the doctor was doing. I said, that’s what I want to be. Despite being a mediocre student, being a doctor was always my dream, although I knew the likelihood of getting into an American medical school after college was slim.

I went to medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico for two years, and by some miracle, I got into the University of Maryland as a transfer student. I graduated from University of Maryland Medical School in 1978, and then went on to a residency at Temple University, with two years of general surgery and three years of urology. I eventually started a solo practice as a urologist in Baltimore.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson is if you have a dream, you work to fulfill that dream. You try to do everything you can to make it happen. Sometimes there are forks in the road. You have to take at least one of them. You can’t stand still. You’ve got to keep moving forward.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about surviving cancer. Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you found out that you had cancer?

Sure. In 2014, I had a prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA, which is a common blood test to screen for the disease. The test showed my PSA levels were elevated, so I received a biopsy. While the first biopsy was negative, I continued to track my PSA levels over the next few years. In 2017, my levels increased again, and I went on to get an MRI, which suggested that I had prostate cancer. There were multiple lesions within the prostate, which is indicative of the disease. I’m a realist and I don’t try to fake things away. I came home, told my family and went about figuring out what I was going to do to treat it.

What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

The scariest part is that I had a highly aggressive form of prostate cancer. That was a shock to me.

How did you react in the short term?

I started thinking about my own longevity. What should I do if I only have 10 years to live? Did I even have 10 years to live? I thought about my kids. Should I cash in my insurance policy? Because when you hear you have an aggressive form, you think, well, most likely you’re going to die of prostate cancer. And from all my years in urology medicine and taking care of patients, I know that dying from prostate cancer is a very painful, very difficult thing. So those are the kinds of things I was thinking about.

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? What did you do to cope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

I’m a “move-forward” kind of person. I’ve always been like that. I look at the situation and I deal with what’s in front of me. So, I said — I have prostate cancer in front of me, and I knew I had to deal with it.

Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped you learn to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

I got a lot of support from my fellow doctors at Chesapeake Urology, and from Dr. Neal Shore, who made me feel so confident in my treatment choice and in the possibility that I could live a long life despite having advanced prostate cancer. That was due to my faith in Dr. Shore, who’s one of the best, without question.

In my own cancer struggle, I sometimes used the idea of embodiment to help me cope. Let’s take a minute to look at cancer from an embodiment perspective. If your cancer had a message for you, what do you think it would want or say?

It would tell me to be even more passionate about early screening and helping men understand the importance of early diagnosis. For patients with prostate cancer, early diagnosis significantly increases the likelihood of a cure.

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? How has cancer shaped your worldview? What has it taught you that you might never have considered before?

While I was going through it, I was very positive about the potential outcome.

How has it changed me? No matter what it is, people find ways to move on with their lives. You can’t let this control your life. But as I said earlier, it made me a more passionate supporter of earlier detection and of men with prostate cancer and their families.

How have you used your experience to bring goodness to the world?

A mission of mine has been to increase the availability of free prostate cancer screenings in Baltimore. When I led Chesapeake Urology, we created a program that has now helped screen thousands of men over the past 16 years. If they are diagnosed and don’t have insurance, we biopsy them and treat them with minimal impact to their finances. That’s been my commitment, not because I got prostate cancer, but it’s something I always felt was important.

What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?

Most importantly, men shouldn’t be afraid to find out what’s going on in their bodies. The best way to do that is get the necessary tests to make sure that cancers are found early, so they can be treated and cured. This includes tests for colon, prostate and lung cancer. That’s what my experience has taught me.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give to others who have recently been diagnosed with cancer? What are your “5 Things You Need To Beat Cancer?”

I think you have to trust your doctor and trust that he’s giving you the best information. Make sure not to only meet with a surgeon but meet with a radiation oncologist too to talk about the opportunities to treat prostate cancer in less invasive ways than surgery. I made a decision with my doctors to have radiation therapy with hormone therapy. And I knew, as a urologist, if I was going to have radiation therapy, I was going to make sure I got a perirectal spacer, which creates space between the rectum and the prostate. Perirectal spacers are intended to reduce the amount of radiation that reaches the rectum, which helps minimize the sexual, urinary and bowel side effects that can often accompany radiation therapy. For my perirectal spacer, I chose SpaceOAR Hydrogel and I’m very grateful for my results.

Make sure you understand what’s going to happen with your treatment, whichever approach you choose. Seek out opinions to help you make that treatment decision. And finally, make sure you have your family behind you. Cancer doesn’t just affect the person with the cancer, it affects the whole family. Help your family understand what you’re about to go through, what your prognosis is and what you’re looking at in the long term.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

Early detection saves lives. People need to know that and act on it.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

That’s a really good question. Barack Obama would obviously be a great person have lunch with. He’s brilliant and has overcome so much in his life to achieve what he has accomplished. Yes, I would definitely like to have lunch with Barack Obama.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.