A Prostate Cancer Personal Story
I joined a prostate support group a few months ago. I wanted to learn more about this disease since my father was diagnosed at the age of 72. I've met some wonderful men along this journey, including the ones that are a part of ProstateCancer.net.
Let me introduce Bill, who is 63 years old who wants to tell his story in his own words.
Feeling anxious and scared
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years after my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) result read higher than average. This prompted the doctor to monitor me more closely and my PSA levels.
My doctor told me that whenever the patient's PSA levels are high, the doctor may advise waiting a while. They would repeat the tests on getting a biopsy to test for the cancer. In my case, my doctor advised me on routine checkups every 6 months after the first test result showed 4.8.
I felt anxious and scared, even though my doctor said I should not worry too much. But I just could not help it. He had me do a digital rectal exam but found nothing definitive.
For 2 years since that test, I was doing okay until my results went up to 8.6, and I had to go for a biopsy. At the time the results came, I was relaxing at home with my family when I read that I had prostate cancer.
My doctor and I discussed which treatment would be best for me between radiation or surgery, and their side effects. I put into consideration how I might have trouble getting an erection or even urinating. These are common side effects after most prostate cancer treatments.
Making a treatment decision
I discussed it with my wife, and we weighed the side effects against the desire to get rid of the cancer so that I could live as long as possible to see my young grandkids grow up.
I finally decided to go with the surgery, even after reading about the impotence and the incontinence effects. They just did not seem real to me, and what that would mean as far as day-to-day living was concerned was hard for me to imagine.
My surgery was scheduled for May 14, 2017, and though I was scared, I knew I had to be strong for my family and wife’s sake. I assured my family that I was very optimistic and that I was in very good hands. It was important to reassure them, because they were very worried about me.
Regaining my strength
After I woke up from surgery, my doctor informed me that my recovery would take time, a lot of perseverance, and patience. I had to learn to cope with the new changes in my lifestyle from the side effects that came with the treatment.
After I returned home, I began exercising and walking around my neighborhood. Slowly but surely, I began regaining my strength.
Continuing to improve
As I regained my strength, my control over urination and my ability to have an erection began to improve. By August, my ability to control urine and have an erection was at 80% of my original functionality. I continue to use drugs to help with this.
I'm retired now, and I have more time to spend with my family and friends. I can confidently say that life is pretty much as it was before the prostate cancer. My advice to everyone is to get tested early.
What was the most difficult part of your diagnosis?