Telling a Survivor's Story
I joined a prostate support group about 3 years ago. My father had prostate cancer, so I wanted to learn more about the disease. I have met some wonderful people who want to share their stories. The story today is from a young man who wants to share his journey.
Hearing you have cancer
Nobody wants to hear the words "you have cancer." It is the most terrifying and dreadful thing I have ever been told in my life. That was in 2004 when I was 37 years old. I had a kidney stone for a while and I remember having regular check-ups for my kidney stone progress, and that's when my doctor suggested having a prostate exam. He did that and then suggested a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) check, which came back at 2900.
With a sad expression on his face, the doctor told me that I only had a few years to live and that not just a few years, but 2 to 3 years would be my maximum. I remember slowly sweating as the office began to heat up out of nowhere, my limbs went numb, and I wished I could storm out of the office, but I couldn't. The results took me entirely by surprise, and I finally mustered the courage to leave the office to my car, where I sobbed like a baby.
Fearing life was over
I went to several doctors for various tests, including biopsies, CT scans, and bone scans, and each result was worse than the last. Following the doctor's advice, I immediately began hormone therapy, and within two weeks, the hot flashes and depression set in as I felt my masculinity slipping away. I thought that my life was over.
My life had just been starting to fall into place. I was about to marry my longterm girlfriend. My job had just promoted me to head of marketing. And now cancer. My inner self just felt like giving up, and if it hadn't been for God's love and frequent encouragement from my fellow Christian, as well as my girlfriend's constant care and reminder, I would have slipped into a deep depression and eventually succumbed.
Turning to another treatment
I switched doctors and hospitals. My new doctors recommended various treatments, including radiation, seeds, and open prostate surgery. None of them completely piqued my interest. The following week, I received a phone call from my doctor. He informed me of another treatment option known as robotic-assisted prostate surgery.
I looked into robotic-assisted prostate surgery. I thought it had smaller incisions, less pain, and a faster recovery than other surgical options. The procedure was uncomfortable before and after. The hospital staff always encouraged me to keep a positive attitude. They accommodated my needs and treated me very well, even though my initial recovery was a little rocky. I had a non-surgery-related setback during my hospital stay. I was back home in a matter of days and back to work within a few weeks.
On the whole, I believe I made the right decision. My recovery has been everything I could have hoped for. PSA levels are much better now. Things that I am most concerned about, such as incontinence and sexual function, have not been an issue; my life appears normal. The doctor's timeline of two to three years was overturned by God. It has been nearly eighteen years and counting.
My advice to young and old men get tested early. It could save your life.
How familiar are you with inherited gene mutations and cancer?