It Started With a Routine Physical: Part-One

Please note: This story is published as a three-part series. The author is @patrick-boland, a community member.

It started with a routine physical, "you've turned 50, time to do these tests". I was a 51-year-old auto mechanic, who enjoyed motorcycles, getting drunk on weekends, and walking my dog twice a day. I thought myself in good enough shape, certainly overweight at 5'11' and 238 lbs. According to the doctor, I was borderline diabetic, had high blood pressure, and by the way your PSA is 9.9, that needs to be looked at.

Testing, proding, and a cocky urologist

I felt fine, really. I had some problems with frequent urination, most noticeably after I had a problem with kidney stones 3 years before. A stent was installed while I waited my turn on the sound wave machine that was supposed to pulverize the kidney stones. A month after the procedure I still had the stent in until the doctor could be bothered to remove it. The urologist was a cocky short guy, who apparently had a dislike for large, loud men.

I waited a while since we also had my “must do“ colonoscopy scheduled. After that was concluded without incident, back to this same urologist I went with my 9.9 PSA. Bedside manner was not his strong suit, not much empathy either, and a decidedly sadistic streak. We started with a DRE (digital rectal exam, for those of you who have never had the pleasure). This man felt like he was doing a one finger pushup on my prostate gland, pressing hard and long enough to bring tears to my eyes and pre-ejaculate to the tip of my member. As I pulled my pants back up I asked him what he thought. Inconclusive he said, a biopsy will be necessary.

More testing, same cocky urologist

A few weeks later, on March 23, 2008, I reported to his office. I already had a feeling that bad things were about to happen. I had begun researching prostate cancer. At the office, the elfin doctor renewed his assault on my prostate, vigorously pushing and pressing. I am sure now it had a purpose, to inflame the gland, and hopefully give him the right spot to collect his samples. It was an ultrasound-guided biopsy. He had a helper that day, an extremely pregnant, extremely young physician’s assistant (Rebecca). I was shown the instrument that took the tissue samples, shown the noise that it made, and advised they would be taking between 12 and 20 samples. As the assault on my back door commenced, (how can a doctor with such small hands cause so much discomfort?), I heard him say to the PA, “There right there, do you see that instrument? That’s the one I ‘m talking about, right there.” She murmured her assent, yes she saw it. It wasn’t until the dog walk that night that I realized they could see a tumor, just as I knew he could feel it by the way he lingered over a certain spot during the DRE. They were speaking in code, conceivably to spare me trauma. Didn’t work.

I knew right then

The samples were collected, the instruments removed, and without a word, the doctor began to walk out of the room. WITHOUT A WORD. I stopped him, and asked him, “Well……?”. “I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me”, he said. “We’ll have to wait for the test results.” With that, he turned and left. The PA had me sit up and asked me how I felt. A brief wave of nausea swept over me and it must have shown. She said, “Be careful standing up, as I won’t be able to help if you fall“. I assured her I’d be fine, as I rose to my feet I could see in her eyes the ancient sadness of a mother's eyes. If I didn’t know before, I knew right then. Cancer, you got it. I went back to work, thankful the day’s work was almost over.

Learning more about prostate cancer treatments

I quit drinking that day. I redoubled my research, now knowing. I was not thrilled with any of the options listed on the internet; surgery, radiation, or radioactive seed implant. Within minutes though, I found “The Natural Prostate Cure”, by Roger Mason. I had actually used some of his products when I had quit tobacco a few years back. There was a bottle of vitamins or supplements, a bottle of cinnamon oil, with which to anoint your forehead, mimicking the smoking motion, and a sternly worded admonition which I wish I could remember, something along the lines of man up, grow a set, whose life is it anyway, take control. It worked too, A month and one box of toothpicks later, I was a nonsmoker, even still while being married to one.

Natural life-style changes

I digress, sorry. Natural prostate cure, I like the sounds of that. The book, just a pamphlet really, is available for free on his website. It was here I first heard the word macrobiotics. I didn’t understand it then, I still don’t. But the precepts were pretty easy to comprehend. Remove from the diet: meat, fish, fowl, all dairy products, eggs, sugar of any kind, alcohol, coffee. Eat-in season, fresh whole foods, as close to its natural state as possible. Fasting once a week for a day. A lot of strange unknown foods, as well as the whole yin yang, befuddling.

I never understood what prostate cancer meant

I never understood what prostate cancer meant. I never even really knew what the prostate is, or does. Thank God for the internet. I may not still have this right, but as I understand it…..Let’s see, the prostate is the male sex gland, without it, you will not ejaculate, may not become erect, will not father children, may be unable to control your bladder. My only thought, over and over... "This is wrong..."

The biopsy came back, cancer

So the biopsy came back, cancer. I had the pleasure of hearing this from my drunk, chain-smoking, sobbing wife, who had called the doctor’s office and bullied the news out of his staff. Cancer, and it has to come out.

Did I mention I already knew? Easter Sunday, March 2008, was celebrated with a salmon dinner, as I began my foray into infinity. I had quit drinking alcohol, next was coffee, meat, eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, sugar, fruit. I didn’t understand what I was doing, but I had drastic results. I lost 30 pounds in 45 days, and that was just the beginning...

Continue reading Patrick's story, It Started With a Routine Physical: Part-Two.

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