Ten years had passed since my last regular physical. The one before that was when I was born. My wife made an appointment for this one for July 31, 2012.
My father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer twenty years ago and had passed away in 1988; he too avoided doctors and suffered from a very late diagnosis. As my mother's father also had prostate cancer, I had become aware of the disease and always read anything I could on the subject.
So I consented to a DRE and asked for a PSA test with my bloodwork.
Several days later the doctor called me with one concern. My PSA was at 3.8, which is "considered a little high" for my age of 55. I was concerned. The doctor asked, "what do you want to do?"
"What are my options, doc?" was all I could reply. I knew that a single PSA test isn't an accurate indication of the presence of cancer. But I was scared senseless nonetheless. Logic goes away when you are in fear.
"We can take another test in three months or I can refer you to a urologist who will probably do a biopsy or an ultrasound," was his reply.
I chose to wait it out, hung up the phone and felt sick. I imagined my family without me and the pain that had been nagging my lower back seemed worse than ever. I began reading everything I could on the Internet and ordered a couple of books from ebay.
The next day I called the doctor's office and ordered a Free-PSA test from that same blood sample. I had read that this would be a more accurate indicator of any problem. I had this all figured out. The Free-PSA test came back. A rather grim doctor informed me that it showed 8.4% Free PSA. "Not good," said my doctor. "Not good, said I". "What will be will be," said he.
I took the urologist's number. A thousand things left undone in my life flooded my mind. I didn't want to have cancer.
The Internet Jungle put my chances of having prostate cancer somewhere around 85% -- probably greater if I accounted for two relatives histories.
I was sick to my stomach. The urologist gave another DRE which was negative and told me to come back in a month for another PSA test. And he said "have a nice summer."
"Have you seen many other guys with these numbers who don't have cancer," I asked. "Yes, most of them don't," he reassured me. It didn't help. My summer was ruined. My entire life, in my mind had changed forever. I couldn't function. My worrying was that great. I told my family that I had an abnormal test result, that it probably means nothing as PSA results are very inconclusive.
Oh yea, I asked the doctor if a biopsy hurt. He told me it didn't, but also that he never had one. I assured myself that I would be in no hurry at all to get one either. If my PSA number was confirmed, I felt I would repeat the test every few months and watch for a progression instead of racing to a biopsy.
Along with my grieving, I significantly changed my life. It may sound silly but I decided to change my eating habits. I gave up garbage food and begin eating healthy. I vowed to live for the day -- easier said than done, but somewhat effective. I also promised myself to get more frequent medical checkups.
The Longest Month of My Life passed and I took another PSA test on September 4, 2012.
My wife called me to pick up the phone, the doctor had my results. He told me that my PSA level was now a 1.6 -- "very good for a guy my age".
That was the best news of my life.
For now, my worries have passed. My better eating has helped me lose 15 pounds of unwanted fat and I'm feeling better about myself. I'm nicer to the folks around me and feel truly thankful that God has given me this good news.
God willing, I'll follow up here on YANA with my next test.
Haven't had any tests since I offered my story. Good overall health. Enjoying retirement and family. God bless.
Several years have passed since that unusual PSA number and since my second test came back normal. I'm 57 years old now, retired, with nothing unusual. Haven't been for a checkup since. Probably should go. On one hand, I don't want to know if something's up.
I have learned that sex, coffee and exercise does probably elevate my PSA, so I'll lay off before my next blood test.
Best regards and God bless each of you.
Another year has gone by and I haven't been to the doctor. No reason to go.
It has been more than several years since my last doctor's visit. I have no problems and am living a happy retired life. I take no medications and am very active. I do wake up a few times at night with an urgency to urinate and I should have that checked out. Probably well overdue for a medical exam.
Eddie's e-mail address is: eaglo AT aol.com (replace "AT" with "@")