I was having no symptoms when I was diagnosed. My PSA had steadily risen over five years, with it jumping from 4.8 to 5.65 over 12 months. The doctor frowned, looking at the PSA report, and I said "Do you want to biopsy the prostate?" His reply was: "Yes, just to be safe. But we won't find anything." A week later he was telling me that I had prostate cancer. Four of 12 tissue samples were malignant, two were suspicious. The urologist said the gold standard was surgery, and he proposed doing a cut-you-open procedure.
It was a stressful experience because I immediately began to project to worst case scenarios, imaging that the cancer had spread outside the prostate. CT and bone scans said otherwise. I began looking for doctors who could do robotic or laparoscopic surgery. My worst moment was at the Cleveland Clinic near Miami. The doctor said I weighed too much (255 pounds, 5'11'' tall) to have robotic surgery. He also recommended against radiation because the cancer was on both lobes. I found numerous doctors that said I was a good candidate for robotic or laparascopic surgery. I decided to have the surgery at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
Dr. Pow-Sang, who had done thousands of laparoscopic procedures, performed the operation. I spent one day in ICU: the surgery lasted longer than normal due to difficulty in removing the prostate (it was very enlarged) and I was slow in awakening. I was discharged home two days later with a catheter, which I had for three weeks. You get used to it after several days. Although I had nerve-sparing surgery, I suffer from erecticle dysfunction. Viagara helps somewhat. I am also mildly incontinent. In 2010, scar tissue from the surgery started to block my bladder opening. I underwent bladder neck surgery, an outpatient procedure, to keep the opening from closing. That increased my incontinence. I wear one pad every day.
I'm OK with my decision to have surgery: my PSA remans undetectable seven years later. An important fact: your chances of getting prostate cancer are increased by 50 percent if anyone in your family has the disease. My father had prostate cancer - treated with radiation - as did my brothers Jim (radioactive seeds) and Greg (surgery). My dad's cancer never returned: he died 20 years after treatment from Alzheimer's disease. Jim and Greg are doing well. If you are a Vietnam veteran and are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you are entited to VA disability. There is a presumption that you were exposed to Agent Orang. I recently learned that I have a small tumor on my right kidney and will need to undergo surgery. There are studies which show a connection between kidney cancer and Agent Orange. The VA, however, has yet to list kidney cancer as a service-connected disease due to Agent Orange exposure. Prior to my surgery, I walked seven miles a day for a month, losing 15 pounds. It helped give me a positive frame of mind. My best advice: advocate strongly for yourself, research the pros and cons of the treatment options, make a decision that is best for you. I don't believe in watchful waiting, athough prostate cancer is normally slow growing. To me, you're waiting for the cancer to spread.
My PSA remains undetectable, eight years after surgery. I underwent surgery in October, 2013, to remove a small tumor from my right kidney. It turned out to be benign ... I started attending a men's clinic last year in an effort to have an erection. Viagara does not work. I have been giving myself injections of Edex, slowly increasing the dosage over time. It has not been successful. I am not able to maintain an erection. So I plan to try a pump and will consider an implant. I am lucky in that I have a sensitive, understanding, passionate partner. We have an excellent sex life, despite the erectile dysfunction. I am 68; she is 61. But we act like teenagers in the bedroom.
Forgot to mention in my original posting that my Gleason score after prostate surgery was increased from a 6 to a 7 (3 + 4). I had a single suspicious cell on the margin, according to the pathologist.
I have my PSA checked every six months: a friend had his prostate cancer return nine years after surgery. In the past year, I have undergone two cystoscopies to check on my bladder neck opening. Reports were good both times ... I am considering a penile implant - Viagra and injections have not worked. Although I perform well in the bedroom, I miss the physical and emotional connection that an erection brings. We'll see what my doctor says about the situation.
My PSA has been mostly undetectable. In June I had a cystoscopy and dilation to widen the urethra and improve the urine flow. It's been more than 10 years since my prostate surgery, and I feel fortunate that I am still alive and kicking.
Rudy's e-mail address is: hardesty5tt AT gmx.com (replace "AT" with "@")