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This member is a YANA Mentor This is his Country or State Flag

John Sullivan and John live in Connecticut, USA. He was 53 when he was diagnosed in March, 2012. His initial PSA was 4.10 ng/ml, his Gleason Score was 6, and he was staged Unknown. His choice of treatment was Surgery (Robotic Laparoscopic Prostatectomy). Here is his story.

My experience began as many others before me, an elevated PSA. I had been experiencing frequent urination and decided to see my local urologist. At 53 years old I figured it was probably an infection or possibly a kidney stone. A digital exam was performed as well as a PSA. The digital resulted in a prognosis of slightly enlarged. The PSA results I would need to wait on.

While driving home from work a few days after the exam I received a call from the Urologist. He told me that my prostate appeared to be that of a 60 year old man and my PSA was a 4.1. I was placed on antibiotics in the event it was an infection. A follow up appointment was made and another PSA was done 2 weeks later. That result came back at a 3.7. Lower, but still higher than normal. My Uroligist informed me that a biopsy would need to be done. Once I heard that I immediately sought a second opinion. This Urologist was a nice guy, but he was a little older and not on top of his game. If I needed a biopsy I was going elsewhere.

On a referral I made an appointment to see Urologist Marlene Murphy in Hartford. Dr. Murphy came highly recommended and was terrific. After yet another PSA, my PSA remained around 4. Dr. Murphy informed me that it was decision time on the biopsy. Reluctantly, I made the decision to have the biopsy done in Dr. Murphys office. I'll never forget the sound the machine made when taking cores from the four quadrants. Pinch Click...Pinch Click...Pinch Click. Finally, after 12 samples we were done. Now it was a waiting game for results.

One month later no results. Should I call? I resigned myself to the fact that if I had cancer Dr. Murphy would have already called me. Six weeks, no call. OK, time to pick up the phone and call Dr. Murphy. I was at work when I called, once I informed the receptionist who I was she put me right through to Dr. Murphy. My heart sank in my chest when Dr. Murphy informed me that yes, I had prostate cancer. I felt tears begin to well in my eyes. How could this be? I'm young and in good shape, I don't drink, smoke, or abuse my body. How could I have prostate cancer.

I left work early that day. I felt terribly isolated and alone. I now knew I had cancer, but I had no idea what to do next. When I got home I called my wife (soon to be caretaker) and passed the news on to her. I than called my Dad and my son in quick succession. All the time I was numb to everything around me.

Two weeks later my wife and I went to Dr. Murphys office to discuss the path forward. Dr. Murphy spent two hours with us going over treatment options. I was rated a Gleason 6 following the biopsy so I had some time to make a decision. After listening to Dr. Murphy go over each treatment, I had no idea what to do. As she held my hand I looked directly in her eyes and asked her what she would do, "I would have it out" Dr. Murphy stated. "You are young, you have a long life expectancy, if you have it out you will be fine I promise" We left with an appointment to see a surgeon at St. Francis hospital in Hartford that specialized in DaVinci Robotic Surgery.

One month later, I sat in the surgeons office to discuss the surgery I had decided to pursue. I was still scared and just felt lost. My brain still replaying that fateful day Dr. Murphy informed me I had prostate cancer. While listening and asking questions of the surgeon, I got a weird feeling that the fit just wasn't right. This surgeon had absolutely no bedside manner and he had only performed about 200 of the DaVinci prostate surgeries. While he didn't know it at the time, there was no way he was ever going to operate on me. When I aked him if he thought I could wait until after the holidays to have surgery he looked at me and said "you have a very slow growing cancer, there should be no issue with a Gleason 6 score to wait until after the holidays" Thank you Mr. Surgeon.

While driving home from Hartford I decided that I needed to take control of my treatment. After all, it was my body and my decision. That evening I started reading everything I could about prostate cancer on the internet. I compared treatments, surgeons and facilities. After three months of exhaustive research one name stood out...Dr. ASH TEWARI

Dr. Ash Tewari is a pioneer in prostate surgery. After extensive research I found Dr. Tewari's surgerys always had better results than almost any surgeon in the country, if not the entire world. Than I started to surmise that if Dr. Tewari really was that good he would never have the time to see a guy from Connecticut. I was wrong! Very wrong.

I made an appointment to see Dr. Tewari earlier this year. I believe my forst appointment was in January. I had forwarded my biopsy slides prior to my visit. In January, my wife and I boarded the train for Manhattan. This was going to be an adventure, I never took the train to New York before.

It was a 90 minute ride from New Haven to Grand Central. When we arrived at Grand Central I was amazed at how beautiful it was. Thousands of people in constant motion going in every direction. It was just incredible. Once we found our way out of the terminal we hit the Taxi stand. I had the address written down in my pocket. 500 East 68th street I said to the driver. He turned around and said "you mean Weill Cornell hospital sir" ummm yeah, I think thats where we are going.

The drive to Weill Cornell was awesome. New York is a place of constant motion. Thousands of people lined the street, car horns honked, shades of neon blanketed the large buildings. I turned to my wife and said "I can't believe we are in New York, I also cannot believe I am seeing the greatest prostate surgeon in the world, Ash Tewari.

Dr. Tewari's office sits on the ninth floor of the Weill Cornell Presbyterian hospital. The elevator has to be the slowest elevator in the world. Once we got off we turned left and headed in to Dr. Tewari's office. When I first walked in I was greeted by the friendliest receptionist I have ever met. After exchanging insurance info my wife and I say down. Just as I got comfortable a nurse came out to get me and brought me back for a quick blood pressure check. He took a tube of blood and a urine sample prior to leading me back to the waiting room.

I found out later that patients don't sit very long in Dr. Tewari's waiting room. I just wasn't use to this kind of treatment. Later I met Linda. Linda is one of the nicest woman on the planet and does all the scheduling for surgery. Linda escorted me and my wife to a waiting room to meet the great Ash Tewari. I was a friggin nervous wreck at this point. Why would Dr. Tewari even take me as a patient? I wasn't worthy enough to be in his office nevermind be treated by him.

A sudden knock and the door swung open, there he stood, just like in the videos I had watched at least 50 times on the internet, Dr. Ash Tewari, pioneer of the nerve sparring technique, the catheterless prostate removal surgery, and a master at having your prostate out in 90 minutes or less. I was blown away.

Dr. Tewari entered the room and introduced himself to both my wife and I. I felt like I had known him for years as I spent six hours a night watching him perform the same operaion over and over. I also listed to all his lectures and reviewed his position papers. For the record, I have nevermet a physician with a better bedside manner than Dr. Tewari. I loved him and so did my wife. This was the surgeon that I would climb on the operating table for. I never had any type of surgery so this was a big deal for me.

Surgery was set for April 11th 2013. It was also my 54th birthday. I didn't see Dr. Tewari that day. Once Dr. Turner put me out, the three hour surgery felt like five minutes. Dr. Tewari came in, got it done, and moved on to another surgery. I was the very first surgery that day and my results clearly indicate he was on his game that day.

Dr. Tewari popped in to see me on day two. He explained everything he did and stated it went very well. While I didn't feel it did with the gas pains in my stomach and that damn catheter in my penis, I found it hard to find anything positive at that point.

Two weeks later we traveled back to New York to have the catheter removed. The nurse yanked it out like she was starting a lawnmower....Yike's thats a weird feeling, but damn it's out. I'm free!! No more bag at night, no more stars when I turned the wrong way and it pinched like hell. Man what a great feeling to feel like a man again.

After about a week with diapers and pads I went dry. I found out later that I was months ahead of other men. Another week later I woke up with an erection. Holy cow this was too easy, everything is coming back. However, while all seemed well we had some minor setbacks. In September I had a cystoscopy done to see if scar tissue was the cause of my sudden urge to pee. I had several nights of getting up every 15 minutes to pee as well. However, this was all normal as the surgery was far more serious than I could have ever imagined.

Well, its now October. A full six months after surgery. My wife and I have a very active sex life, sure I use either Cialis or Viagra now and than to get an erection, but not all the time. I have returned to normal intervals of urination and my stream continues to improve,

It was one hell of a journey my friends. But I thank God for leading me to Dr. Ash Tewari. I owe this man my life. If I live another 50 years I will always have Dr. Ash Tewari to thank. He is an amazing person and has the unique ability to make you feel important.

I now refer all my friends to Dr. Ash Tewari who are starting out on a journey that I have completed.

While this is rather lengthy and I do apologize, what else can I say about the man who saved my life. I wish there was something I could do for Dr. Tewari to show my gratitude.

For those of you getting that initial diagnosis of prostate cancer fear not. Get yourself over to Mt. Sinai where Dr. Ash is getting ready to set up shop and get checked out. You won't regret it.

UPDATED

May 2014

Its been 14 months since my surgery and I am doing great. I visit my surgeon for a follow up every three months, outside of some minor setbacks I am 100%.

Thanks to the YANA site, since I posted my story I have been contacted by several men with prostate cancer who have either been recently diagnosed, or heading in for surgery. I did my very best to answer their concerns honestly, based on my own experience.

The one thing I wish every man takes away with them after visiting this site is that you are not alone. All of us that contribute to YANA have been exactly where you are today. We all felt helpless, we all confused on which treatment and which physician we should choose.

The best advice I can give you is to allow yourself to experience the emotional roller-coaster of the initial diagnosis. Have a cry if you must, carry the burden of angst, ask the million dollar question why me? In time, you will come to the realization that I did once all the emotionalism subsided, and that is I must take accountability to research and make a sound decision on my treatment. Its my responsibility and I must live with the consequences of that decision.

I have told all of you in the past that once I found Dr. Ash Tewari, I knew surgery was the best option. On April 11, 2014, exactly one year after surgery, I sent Dr. Tewari an email thanking him for basically saving my life and ensuring I would have many more tomorrows with my family and friends. Within a day Dr. Tewari sent me a response.

I will continue to encourage my friends, family members, and colleagues to have annual check ups for prostate cancer. I'm glad I did.

While the journey is over for me now, I will continue to support anyone that wishes to contact me through their journey. I was honored recently to receive an email from the spouse of a gentleman who was scheduled for surgery this week. Her concerns were post operative recovery and the weeks that followed. I returned her email promptly and even left her my cell phone number in order for her to keep me informed of her husbands surgical outcome.

My name is John Sullivan, and I am cancer free. Thank you Dr. Ash Tewari for being a brilliant and caring surgeon, and thank you Suzanne Sullivan my dear spouse for your support and love. A better care giver I could not find. (although I had to change my own pee bag - OK, had to throw one yuck in there)

Thanks YANA for allowing me this soapbox. Please, anyone needing support or encouragement may reach out to me at CouncilorSullivan@snet.net My best to to all for prostate health.

UPDATED

June 2015

Well, it's been over two years since my surgery with Dr. Tewari. Aside from an occasional urgency to go, I am 100%. My PSA has been zero since my surgery on April 11, 2013 and I am now on 6 month examination intervals. While it still seems like yesterday between diagnosis and surgery, I realize two years have passed.

Those of you that have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, please do your homework. Pursue your path to a cancer free life with determination. Keep a positive attitude and know that you will bounce back just as I did. Choose your physician and treatment carefully. If you are in the northeast USA, more specifically the tri-state [New York, New Jersey, Connecticut] area, please make an appointment to see Dr. Samadi or Dr. Tewari. Both are pioneers in prostate cancer and highly skilled.

As always, I am here via email for any of you that wish to contact me with your concerns or to discuss my experience with DaVinci robotic surgery and recovery.

All the best to you,

John Sullivan

UPDATED

January 2016

It will be three years since I had my robotic surgery in April. My PSA is currently zero. I have no leakage issues and my wife and I have a very satisfying sex life. I remain dedicated to mentoring men and spouses on the journey to being cancer free. I am currently 56 years old and prostate cancer remains in the rear view mirror of my life.

I remain grateful to my surgeon Dr. Ash Tewari for the exceptional care he continues to give me. I am active in the Relay for Life in my hometown and to date, I have mentored three men with their recent prostate cancer diagnosis as well as one man's wife.

I realize when it comes to diagnosis of prostate cancer we are not all the same. Some men have a far more advanced stage of cancer than I did, while other men are older and robotic surgery may not be the best option. However, it is important to note that we are a brotherhood. We should not be silent on ensuring all men get checked yearly for prostate cancer. I have a friend who is 60 years old and just went to his General Practitioner for a complete check up. Guess what, the GP never mentioned a PSA. After reviewing my experience with him, he called the GP back and insisted he be sent for a PSA. Thank goodness he is fine.

My point is simply this, this cancer is one of the easiest cancers to treat and cure when caught in time. Please insist your physician send you for a simple blood test. Even if you are fine, at least you know have a baseline and year over year your physician can make comparisons.

If anyone needs to reach out, please do by emailing me at dakota62@snet.net I am in Connecticut and do my best to respond in 24 hours.

Thank you and the very best of health to you in 2016.

John Sullivan

Wallingford Connecticut

UPDATED

November 2016

Hi Everyone,

Let me start by welcoming any new members, greeting current members, and extending my condolences to those members that may have passed since my last update.

Well, it's been three years and seven months since my surgery with NY Surgeon Dr. Ash Tewari. I have been on 6 month checks for about a year and my PSA remains undetectable at this time.

I have been blessed as I suffer no side-effects from my surgey. A weak urine stream once in a while, but other than that I have bladder control, I can maintain erections, and there is no leakage at all.

Dr. Tewari did an outstanding job with my surgery. The nerve-sparring surgery was very successful and I continue to sing the praises of this amazing surgeon.

I am also grateful that recently diagnosed men continue to reach out to me for mentoring. I made an offer several years ago to all on this website that I would be happy to discuss my journey with any man recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I know that sinking feeling when receiving the news from you physician that you have prostate cancer. It can be just devastating. Most especially if you are alone. Your mind right away goes into panic mode and you find yourself believing you are going to die. Think again my friend. The one thing you crave more than anything else at that time is information and understanding. Why not get that from someone who has been through it, done all the research, and has walked away with no side-effects or life style changes.

If you need a mentor in this process, just email me at dakota62@snet.net and I'll be happy to share what information I have with you.

Prostate cancer when caught early, can be a speed bump in life. It doesn't need to be a death threat to you or your loved ones. When treated early you can go back to doing everything you enjoyed prior to treatment and maintain the same lifestyle. That includes remaining continent and having intimacy with a loved one.

My name is John Sullivan and I am proud to be a member of YANA and a friend to anyone recently diagnosed.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season my friends.

John Sullivan

John's e-mail address is: dakota62 AT snet.net (replace "AT" with "@")


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