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Community Spotlight: Rick’s Reflections

Prostate cancer: most people checking this site are affected by it in some way. I was diagnosed with “it” at 65. My PSA was 20+. PCP asked if I wanted to see a urologist for further testing. Apparently, for whatever reason, some people don’t. He went through the various scenarios for me. I went to the urologist and got the finger (bad news). Biopsy time. Went back for results & she asked me to sit down.

Treatment begins

She asked if I had a will and family or friends to take care of me when I get really sick (more bad news). I decided to pursue treatment as a science experiment, with me as the subject.

Oncologist time. More tests — cat scan, bone scan. More results. He showed me the cat scan. It had escaped my prostate into my abdomen and lymph nodes. We discussed options. I went home to “sleep” on it.

Decision time. I decided that I would go with the “we can extend your life and keep you comfortable” route. 8 weeks of radiation therapy plus Lupron shots quarterly for who knows how long. And Prolix shots once I got all my teeth pulled. It’s been 13 months and so far the side effects have been bearable.

The clues I missed

Time to put my scrambled thoughts out there. I have investigated everything I could find on this. There doesn’t appear to be much misinformation on it, mostly a lack of enough. As I didn’t have any apparent symptoms, I went back over the last few years looking for anything abnormal. It seems like there were clues as far back as 10 years ago. Unfortunately not the ones we have been told about. I used to be able to pee at least 6 feet, it had slowly turned into a gravity fed dribble. Non-invasive clue #1. I was told my ejaculations had turned into a dribble, too. Non-invasive clue #2. I’m sure there are plenty more that aren’t mentioned in the literature. Think about it and if you have noticed something, share it, we owe it to ourselves and others.

You can’t ask if you don’t know

I got started writing this because I found an old letter from my insurance company to schedule a physical for those 65 years old. It has the usual vital signs and routine tests, but oddly enough some of the tests you would expect to be standard are considered “as recommended by a physician”. It has mammograms and colonoscopy at regular intervals, but pap smears and PSA are optional?

It seems like the responsibility for getting the test done is left up to us. “Ask your doctor to do a test” is poor advice if you don’t know to ask, which I hadn’t because I was never told that I should. This ignorance is going to ruin a lot of other men’s day eventually, don’t be one of them. If I had known about all of this, I would have had the PSA test done at 45 just to get a baseline.

Treatment side effects, but new possibilities

It seems like the medical profession is overly concerned about early stage detection leading to unnecessary treatment, which is understandable given the possible drastic side effects of major treatment options. Chemotherapy is miserable, with uncertain results. Prostatectomy is a major surgery that leaves most men with permanent problems, with uncertain results also. There are newer treatments to explore that have little or no side effects, but insurance companies are conservative in their acceptance of these “unproven” treatments ($$). All of this is too late for me, but if I can help men avoid this major inconvenience I will spend as much time as necessary helping others to learn about it.

I hope you took the time to read this, it might save you a lot of grief. It started out as a letter to myself, but as I wrote it I realized that it needed to be shared with others. Please share this with anyone that will listen…I am. Good luck to us all.

Aloha, Rick
2/9/19

Update — my PSA is now 0.2 and I finally got my teeth pulled. I see my oncologist Monday for my next Lupron shot and hopefully will start my Prolia shots. Hang in there, I’m trying.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Oriole00
    8 months ago

    Good I formation Rick! I was diagnosed 2 years ago, went under active surveillance for 1 year and biopsy found 3 cores of Gleason 3+4. I opted for surgery. PSA is not detectable as of this point, fingers crossed it stays that way. Good luck!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    8 months ago

    Fingers crossed right there with you Oriole00. You are a prime example of the benefits of early detection. Best, Richard (ProstateCancer.net Team)

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