Treatment Choice & Finding Support: Prostate Cancer as a Gay Man
In 2008 I had my first biopsy at the Denver Health & Hospital and was told that I had a minimal amount of cancer in three of the twelve samples. My regular physician at the time told me to schedule the removal of my prostate within a couple days.
With a heart condition, watch & wait
However, when I contacted an Urologist he told me that prostate removal was not an option since I was on a blood thinner for my replaced mitral heart valve. He told me that with the amount of blood loss in a prostate removal surgery, I would “probably die on the operating table” due to the loss of blood during the surgery. I was advised to: watch & wait.
Over the next ten years my PSA was checked and remained at a level of 5 or 6. However, last summer I was shocked to find blood in my semen, my PSA was 15.5 and went back in to talk with another Urologist.
Treatment decisions & misinformation
A second biopsy was done and the findings were 11 out of the 12 indicated cancer with a Gleason score of 10. When meeting with the Urologist, she lied to me directly stating that with the watch & wait they would have had me in every three months for consultation – I was never contacted. Then she lied again stating that bleeding was a common occurrence with a prostate biopsy – I bled from my penis for eleven days.
At that point I did a Facebook search and found the Urology Center of Colorado and made an appointment. When meeting with the Urologist, he said his first route would be prostate removal. But he said with my heart condition: two mitral valve replacements, a heart attack, plus a stroke – he told me that was not a possible solution at my age of 66. The doctor also said when removal of the prostate with the cancer, the cancer could be spread during the surgery.
Clinical study for patients with heart conditions
Six months into this study I was sent to an Oncology doctor who explained the radiation treatment of cancer. As of this week, I have completed 45 radiation treatments over the past 9 weeks. When talking with the Oncology doctor, I said since I have completed the radiation and I “should be” cured of the prostate cancer. He answered by saying that I “could be” cured but it is a 50/50 percent chance.
The difficulty of finding support
I have attended two prostate support group meetings at the Urology Center of Colorado. However it really ends up as a lecture by one of the staff doctors presented to a group of 35 men, their daughters and wives. There was not one word said as to how prostate cancer can affect a gay man or how it could affect a same sex couple.
When asked what is next, I was told that in three months I would have a new PSA test. Looking at my records, my last PSA was 0.87. After that appointment I would be directed back to my Urologist. I asked what next and was told he would recommend that I stay on the Lupron another year, watch my PSA and if necessary go into other treatment options.
The past seven months have been one day at a time. I am not in a relationship, but have two gay friends that I can reach out to for support. I have been in search for a gay prostate cancer support group, but have not found any and may end up starting a new support group myself.
The Urologist and Oncology doctors have told me the prostate cancer can be eliminated, but it will be within the next three to five years.
How much do you worry about prostate cancer coming back after treatment?