My Neighbor's Experience With Proton Therapy
I was walking in my neighborhood the other day and just stop to talk to my neighbor. He shared with me that he had prostate cancer. This was the perfect time for me to share with him that I did a little writing for ProstateCancer.net, gave him one of my cards, and invited him to check out this community. You could tell he really wanted to talk. He asked me did I want to take notes and of course I said yes. This was a wonderful opportunity for me.
I would like to share his journey with proton therapy in his own words. This is his story...
So many thoughts ran through my head
When I receive the news that I had prostate cancer, I felt stressed, depress, afraid, and disappointed that my life had come to this. So many questions were going through my head at once.
Ashamed and embarrassment immediately cross my mind. Having to ask questions of people and how was I going to tell my family was a challenge for me. I researched different therapy options and found someone who has been through all of this, which was my top priority. Honest opinions and experience were what I needed at this moment.
Making treatment decisions after a second opinion
For me, the options were either surgery or radiation. I already had an appointment in a clinic where the operation was recommended to me, but I was not at all convinced. Sometimes doctors don’t bother to explain to you everything that is happening and just recommend the most invasive treatment. That's why I opted for a second opinion.
After about a month of waiting and wondering, an invitation for diagnostics finally came to me. I had to check with the health insurance company beforehand whether they will cover the costs. Luckily, my health insurance company agreed to help me, so I got that worry off my chest.
The preliminary examinations lasted two days and I got three gold markers in my prostate. After about seven days the examinations were evaluated, and I was able to make an appointment.
Opting for proton therapy
The radiation itself doesn't hurt, it's just a little uncomfortable. I chose proton treatment because I think it is a method that has fewer side effects.
The treatment took about half an hour five days a week. Due to failures, postponements, etc., I sometimes could only get my treatment in the evening. I got to speak to other people who were here for the same reason as me -- prostate cancer. However, some of them had been operated on earlier, and their residues were being irradiated.
Then the urological side effects started
After three weeks of proton radiation, the urological side effects started. I had the increased urge to urinate during the day. At night it seems like it was every hour. I was feeling pressure in the bladder but there were times I couldn’t urinate. I would take several walks through the house to try and empty my bladder. After so many sleepless nights, I felt very exhausted, and the insomnia was absolutely draining me.
Now, I have to motivate myself every day to go back to proton radiation. As of today, I have put thirty treatments behind me. I was told I have seven left.
The amount of drinking was reduced to 300 ml before the radiation. I can only hold the time on the radiation couch for 30 to 45 minutes without feeling bladder pressures and pain. Other drugs and Tamsulosin contribute to some of these issues I have.
Looking forward to radiation-free time
I look forward to the radiation-free time on the weekends. It's always so amazing how the side effects are reduced without the treatment the next day. Fellow patients in radiation therapy have told me about violent diarrhea attacks and other intestinal problems that they are experiencing.
Up until now, I only have flatulence from intestinal problems, which I treat with some herbal remedies.
At the end of the day, this was my neighbor's individual experience. Every treatment has different effects on each person. Thanks neighbor for sharing this with us.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?