Watch the warning signs. I did, and ‘I’m better than good’

“I’ve got a great future ahead of me with a heavy dose of the good life.”

At first glance, you might not think Michael Dudley is someone who ever faced a disease like cancer.

After all, he’s a former collegiate track athlete who competes in triathlons. He swims, bikes and runs regularly. He watches his diet closely, and he doesn’t drink or smoke.

Yet, Dudley has beaten cancer not once but twice. First, when he faced colon cancer in 2017, and in 2021 when he underwent successful treatment for prostate cancer at the Karmanos Cancer Center.

Dudley advised that the key to defeating the disease is being attentive to early warning signs and being aware of your family health history. He shared his story with the community on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, during the Tigers Radio broadcast moments before the third annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Night at Comerica Park when the Detroit Tigers took on the Kansas City Royals.

“Your health is your wealth,” says Dudley, 67, a Southfield resident who is a business consultant for the McDonald’s Corporation and an ordained minister. “Without health, you’re going to have a substandard quality of life. That’s why regular physicals and specialized health screenings like prostate exams and colonoscopies are so important.”

Along with that, be aware of your personal health risks. As an African American with a family history of cancer, Dudley knew he had an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

“My father died of cancer, and we lost two of his sisters and one of his brothers to the disease,” Dudley shared. “My mom is 89 and the eldest of nine siblings, and she’s outlived them all. Two of them died from cancer-related matters.”

So, when Dudley first noticed blood in his stool in 2017, it was a wake-up call.

“I saw my doctor, who scheduled a colonoscopy,” Dudley explained. “The evidence of cancer was very clear. Further testing showed I was at stage II.

“The diagnosis was a little surprising to me. I was preparing for a triathlon at the time and felt I was on top of my game. With the support of my wife, I became determined not to let cancer beat me. I competed in that triathlon that same week.”

Dudley had a colon resection to remove the disease surgically. He recovered quickly and resumed his active lifestyle.

Going to battle once more

Four years later, Dudley noticed he began urinating more often than usual.

“I thought it was because I had been working out a lot and drinking lots of fluids,” he said. “I wanted to check with my doctor to see if this issue might be connected with something else.”

Frequent urination is among the early signs of prostate cancer, but it could also indicate an enlarged prostate. Generally, the first step when screening for the disease is to have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Blood is drawn and analyzed in a lab for antigens that can indicate the presence of cancer.

In Dudley’s case, his PSA levels were normal. But for extra peace of mind, he sought the cancer experts at Karmanos. He consulted with Isaac Powell, M.D., urologic oncologist, member of the Genitourinary Oncology Multidisciplinary Team and the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at Karmanos, and professor of Oncology and Urology at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Dr. Powell performed a rectal exam, then ordered an MRI scan and a biopsy. Once again, the evidence was clear. Dudley had an early but very aggressive form of prostate cancer.

“My mindset after being diagnosed a second time was simply to overcome a new trial,” he recalled. “Of course, there were moments of fear and reflection. I went through a range of emotions. But I relied on my faith and family. I was going to battle through the naysayers, through my family history, through that second diagnosis. I was determined to rise above.”

Early detection leads to better outcomes

Dr. Powell believes Dudley’s quick and decisive action to get a second opinion despite his good PSA results was critical.

“Patients who suspect prostate cancer also need a rectal exam,” Dr. Powell explained. “Michael’s PSA numbers were normal, but given his personal and family history of cancer, it made sense to seek another opinion. He had an aggressive lesion which didn’t present much PSA.

“We felt Michael’s cancer was confined to the prostate, and we know in the long run that patients who have had their prostate removed surgically have good outcomes. Michael opted for surgery.”

For decades, Dr. Powell has researched the health disparities between African American and Caucasian cancer patients. The data shows that African Americans—particularly those of West-African descent—are at 60-70% higher risk of prostate cancer than Caucasians. The prostate cancer death rate for African Americans is two to three times higher than for Caucasians.

“A genetic component contributes to this disparity,” said Dr. Powell. “We encourage White men to get their initial PSA exam at age 50. But for African Americans, I recommend age 40.”

According to Dr. Powell, many African Americans are reluctant to discuss cancer symptoms and treatment openly. So, he fosters open, trusting doctor-patient relationships to break down those barriers.

“I encourage patients to ask their doctors many questions,” he suggested. “Likewise, I encourage doctors to explain everything in clear, understandable terms. I also tell patients that when detected early, cancer is curable. I had prostate cancer 20-some years ago, and I’m still living and working and very happy with my life. People often associate a cancer diagnosis with death. But the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer patients with local, non-metastasized disease is 98%.”

Living his best life

After the removal of his prostate, Dudley was cancer-free again. He slowly resumed exercising, continued his healthy diet, and thrives today. He continues to see Dr. Powell for checkups every six months and his internists every few months for regular lab work.

“I’m better than good,” Dudley says. “I’ve got a great future ahead of me with a heavy dose of the good life.”

He adds that he shares his story with family, friends and community members to encourage men to schedule regular medical exams, and he’ll do so before an even larger audience on radio airwaves.

Dudley was interviewed on Tigers Radio moments before the third annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Night began. This game is a partnership between Karmanos, the Detroit Tigers and McLaren Health Care, the official healthcare system of the Tigers. His interview was heard on WXYT 97.1 FM in Detroit and on regional radio stations throughout Michigan and Toledo, Ohio.


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“I know there aren’t many African American men who want to go public with their cancer story. But I tell people the diagnosis didn’t define me—it redefined me,” expressed Dudley. “I’ll have an opportunity to share my story with lots of people, and if sharing can help save just one person’s life, it will be very worthwhile. Cancer is a diagnosis—not a death sentence. I’m living proof.”

The most important thing you can say to your friends and family members with a prostate is to schedule an appointment and talk to their primary care provider about the benefits and risks of a prostate cancer screening. For more information, visit You can also call 1-800-KARMANOS (1-800-527-6266) to speak with a trusted oncology patient navigator who can help you determine which tests are right for you.