In 2007 during a normal annual physical, my white cell blood count was noted as being elevated for no apparent reason. No infections noted or any other known causes. I went to specialists, had my blood examined under a microscope, etc; without an explanation.
To be on the safe side, I was referred to have a CT scan with contrast. Results were negative at indicating anything out of the ordinary. My Doctor attributed it to "some people have an elevated white cell count compared to the norm. So my elevated white blood count is the new norm". Fast forward to 9 years later...
I see my Primary Care Physician regularly. I get regular lab work done. I used to get regular digital prostate exams before they stopped those. In late 2016 my Dr. noticed a rise in my PSA; somewhere around the 4.0 range. He noted it could be elevated for a number of reasons and that he would keep an eye on it.
In early 2017 as a follow-up to my previous appointment, my Dr told me my PSA had risen again in the 6.0 range. At this point he recommended a referral to a urologist, just to be safe.
After meeting with and discussing the events that led up to the urologist's visit, it was recommended I have a prostate biopsy. I agreed and scheduled the appointment. The biopsy was a transrectal needle biopsy - 12 samples were taken. I was tolerant for the first 7 or so, but after that it became uncomfortable, but I endured the procedure. I'm glad I had someone with me at the appointment to drive me home (my wife).
Bringing someone with you to your appointments
After 10 days or so we (my wife and I) met with the Urologists to go over the biopsy results. I should have known the results weren't going to be good considering we were directed to an office rather than an exam room to discuss the results. After the nurse escorted us to the Dr's office we sat for a few moments to wait for the results. When the Urologist arrived, he got right to it; informed me (us) that the biopsy indicated cancer.
If you get nothing else out of this experience I am providing, please get this, take someone with you for the results. Someone who can and will have a sound composure to take in all that is about to be said. Why? Because after the Dr told me I had cancer; every sound from his mouth was like Charlie Brown speaking. I didn't hear or want to hear anything else.
He went on to explain the Gleason score and potential treatment options based on the biopsy and its Gleason score. I did a ton of research on the available treatment options and in the end, decided on the Laparoscopic Robotic-Assisted Prostatectomy.
Three plus years and counting, my PSA has been undetectable. I had clear margins, no cancer in the lymph nodes or seminal vesicles. And guess what? My white blood cell count is NORMAL.
So I'm grateful for having been diagnosed early on and to have a great medical team/response.
When the side effects become secondary
Are there side effects? You betcha! But last I checked there were no deaths because of incontinence or erectile dysfunction. There are deaths attributed to Prostate Cancer. Get checked. Pass on how important it is to do so. Life is precious.
Do you feel heard and understood by your doctor?