Earl May’s Prostate Cancer Journey – A Trip of a Lifetime to Africa

After his daunting challege of prostate cancer, Earl May celebrated and took a bucket-list trip to Africa following his surgery and learned valuable lessons about the power of camaraderie, hope, and resilience along the way.

Images by: Earl May

Prostate Cancer Survivor Earl and Roxane May—We can beat this.”

Part of the Life After Prostate Cancer Series

Earl May planned a trip of a lifetime to the West African country of Ghana and to South Africa for March 2019. Everything was booked. He was locked and loaded. All he had to do was pack, fasten his seat belt and fly. 

Rewind to July 2018, Earl, then 54 years old, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had surgery on September 28, 2018. 

“Two months later by the first of November I was back on my feet,” Earl said. “And I felt that I was ready to go.”

Earl always wanted to go on a group trip, even if “he was the only man with all those women,” recalled his wife, Roxane, who celebrated 30 years of marriage May 15.

“He had concerns about going on the African trip,” Roxane said. “But I told him, ‘You’re going.’”  

The 10-day African excursion included visits to Ghana capital city, Accra, a safari, and visits to the South African cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“I really wanted to go on a group trip with other people,” he said. “I think all black people should go back to the mother country.”

Earl is an active man. A 40+ year driver for United Parcel Service (UPS).  He also has a side hustle as the owner of ZO’s Playtime Jumpers, since 2012, those fun, inflatable bounce houses for children to adore.

Earl enjoys gardening, assisted on building a deck to his home and keeps a promise by regularly cutting the grass of his aunt, Catherine May, affectionately called “Aunt Kat,” following the death of her husband 17 years ago.

“He cuts Aunt Cat’s lawn every two weeks,” Roxane said. “He told her that he was going to cut her grass for the rest of her life.”

Roxane said they were at a family reunion in Florida when they got the word about the prostate cancer diagnosis. But she heard something else.

“The doctor said, prostate cancer but I heard pancreatic cancer,” she said, adding that a friend of hers died only eight months from pancreatic cancer diagnosis. After her knowledge base about prostate cancer increased by talking with her husband’s doctor, she had clarity and new understanding about the disease.

“Oh, we can beat prostate cancer; pancreatic cancer has no cure. With prostate cancer, we have options,” she said.

Roxane appreciates the support of The Empowerment Network (TEN). Owner of Reliable Accounting and Tax Service, she is a member of the TEN Think Tank, which helps plan special fundraising events like the organization’s 15 Year “Crystal” Gala Celebration September 23. Earl echoes his wife value of TEN.

“The network was there when I was going through my surgery. I had questions and didn’t know what to ask but they had the answers even before I asked,” he said. “I didn’t know Mellve for the first 55 years of my life. Now, I feel like I’ve known him all my life.”


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