My Journey Into Prostate Cancer
Last updated: October 2022
I don’t remember exactly when I had my first prostate screening, but I know I didn’t like the digital exams. My doctor started testing my PSA, but I didn’t think I had to worry for a long time. All the men in my dad’s family seemed to get it when they were in their 70s, and it was always the slow-growing kind.
Most people in my dad’s family died in their 80s except for him, and he almost made it. I think my PCP first mentioned that my prostate was growing in my mid 50s, but I wasn’t worried. Cancer was a long ways off, right? At age 62, he told me I should see a urologist to get a biopsy. I still wasn’t worried. I thought he was being overly cautious. I had no symptoms. Little did I know what was ahead.
Reluctantly, I went to see the urologist. When the results came back indicating aggressive cancer, I sat there in disbelief. My wife started crying. Watching what this did to her was hard. She fasted for a week and prayed to God to preserve my life. Later I had to watch when she realized what extending my life truly meant. It brought emotional pain for both of us, as well as physical pain for me that made me wonder if I wanted to live. Eventually it changed my relationships with some of the people around me.
Just like in the movie “Back to the Future,” I will now go back in time to 2016. My family and I attended a revival that was taking place in a town several miles away. I had never attended a revival before. My immediate family and I are all Christian. The revival was distant enough that there was little chance we might run into someone there that we knew. As far as I know, no one there knew us. There was no sign in or exchange of information to enter.
After awhile we noticed a woman off to the side who was prophesying over anyone who walked up to her. We had to stand in line to meet with her. This woman told my son in law something about him that she had no way of knowing. When it was my turn, she spoke something about my future that gave me chills. It was so bad that I left there trying to forget it. Every member of my family wanted to talk about what their prophecy was except me. I didn’t tell them much at all that night, but I did tell my wife the next day.
Undergoing a biopsy
When my PCP told me in September of 2017 that I should get a prostate biopsy, I blew him off. My PSA was only 6.2. I was more worried about the colon cancer that ran in my mother’s family at a young age and always required surgery. I had been asking him for a colonoscopy. I was a little upset that he had not been able to get one scheduled yet. Since I didn’t have a colonoscopy on the horizon, I decided to let him schedule the biopsy.
I was present when my dad had his biopsy, and I always thought he could take a lot of pain. He let his dentist drill on his teeth without Novocain. He was obviously in pain during his biopsy, but they gave him nothing for the pain. They gave me a Valium. I had some hydrocodone left over from a previous procedure, so I took half of a pill in addition to the Valium. Don’t worry, my wife drove.
The biopsy was not painless, but I survived. Imagine my surprise to find I was Gleason 9, stage T2a. I was a Christian, so I didn’t get upset. At the time, I wondered if cancer was what the prophecy was referring to, but it wasn’t.
Making a treatment decision
After receiving the biopsy results, my wife and I asked questions, and the urologist gave us some things to read. He was optimistic about the outcome of RARP (robot-assisted radical prostatectomy) and thought cutting it out might eliminate it altogether. Radiation was another choice, but of course not what the urologist thought I should do.
He said the two most common things people complained about were incontinence and ED. He mentioned I would likely lose a little penis length from treatment and held up his hand using a finger and thumb to indicate no more than ½ inch. It seemed like a fair trade off in order to beat cancer.
The urologist indicated we needed to make a decision soon since the cancer was aggressive. Although some of my family members had developed prostate cancer, I didn’t know much about it. My wife and I read the materials provided by the urologist as well as doing a quick internet search. My research seemed to confirm what my urologist said, so at my return appointment we asked how many surgeries he had done and scheduled the surgery.
A life-changing outcome
Previous to surgery I asked my church family to lay hands on me and pray over me. My wife fasted and prayed for several days begging God to save my life.
In March of 2018, I had my prostate removed. It was supposed to take 3 ½ hours, but took 5 instead. I experienced incontinence, but it improved after a few months. ED was minimal, and I had my first spontaneous but much shorter erection about 4 months later.
The worst thing I had to endure was not even on my radar, and it made me think of suicide. I think it was only the beginning of what that prophecy was referring to. I didn’t lose ½” of my anatomy. Instead, that was all I had left while standing. Sitting caused it to try to pull inside out to the point of pain. I didn’t sit much until I had another surgery. I have previously written more about my journey. For more on my story, read “RARP Part 1: Unexpected Consequences.”
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