Hi, I'm Scott Hearn. I live in Cumming, GA with my wife Sandy and three daughters, ages 16, 13 & 9. I am a United Methodist pastor at Creekside UMC.
I went in for my annual physical on November 7, 2007. My doctor called me the following week and said my PSA was 3.8 which was still within the "normal" range but slightly elevated for my age. He thought it was nothing but it would be a good idea to just get it checked out. I said, "Sure." and made an appointment with a Urologist who said the PSA was a "broad net". You could have an elevated PSA and not have anything wrong and you could have a low PSA and have some issues. He wanted to take the test again just to make sure, then said if it came back elevated the only way to be sure everything was OK was to do a biopsy. I said, "OK." The second PSA test came back 3.6, still elevated so we scheduled a biopsy on December 19, 2007.
The biopsy wasn't painful necessarily... but... just an uncomfortable weird feeling... And how are you supposed to "just relax." During the biopsy the Urologist said, "I am looking at your prostate and it looks completely normal. I don't think you have anything to worry about." I said, "Cool."
I scheduled my follow-up the morning after Christmas at 8:00 am, thinking I could sneak out of the house while everyone was asleep, get the news that nothing was wrong, and get back home before everyone got up...
My Urologist said, "I really didn't think I would have to be telling you this, but you have prostate cancer. 5 of the 12 biopsies came back with cancer cells. They are all from the right side of your prostate."
I was surprised but I had told myself during the preceding week, "You need to be prepared... just in case." The Urologist said this meeting was just to share the news and let it sink in. We had plenty of time. He wanted me to make an appointment the following week to discuss options and to bring my wife. I don't know how to say this, but I just didn't like my urologist! I canceled my appointment and set out on my own research journey. I very quickly stepped right into what one person described as, "The Great Prostate Cancer Treatment Shoot Out." Boy was he right!
At my first appointment I received a book about prostate cancer. I began reading it. I obviously turned to the internet. I had been hearing on the local radio station about the Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia. I discovered when I told my boss that he'd had prostate cancer in 1999. He'd chosen a radical prostatectomy. His suggested I see his doctor who is the head of the Urology Department at a close by university. It seemed the more I shared with people my news, the more I was put in touch with men who'd been through this. By far they were the best resource in making my decision.
I spent a whole evening, into early morning, reading the Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia website. I googled "RCOG" and was linked to Jack Jennings' page on this site. His story had a powerful impact on me.
My wife and I made an appointment for a consult at the RCOG clinic that is about 5 miles from my house. We met with Dr. Sherri Machuda. She was wonderful! She walked us through the entire process, shared with us, based on their database, my odds for being cured and no quality of life issues. We were impressed but wanted to continue our homework.
We also made an appointment with the head of Urology at the close by university. After waiting and hour and a half, the doctor came in with no apologies and proceeded to tell me that it was a no-brainer, I should have my prostate surgically removed.
The following days I was really confused as to what I should do… I simply could not get an intellectual peace about what I should do. I talked to my primary physician, who had become a friend, and he said something that proved to be profound in my decision-making. He said, "Scott whatever you do is a gamble." His straightforward statement was really, really helpful.
I chose the "ProstRcision®" treatment at the Radiotherapy Clinics of Georgia. Men had come from all over the United States and even the world to be treated here, and it was in my own backyard. According to their database, being under 50, with a Gleason of 6 and a PSA under 4, I had a 97% cure rate and a 94% chance of having no long term quality of life issues. RCOG defined "cure" as a PSA that drops below .02 and stays there for 10 years.
So to fast forward, I had my seed implant yesterday, March 13, 2008!!!
I must say, so far there has been nothing to it. The folks at RCOG have been awesome. The seed implant was performed by Dr. Benton and Dr. Falconer. A urologist inserts the 25 or so 8" needles into the prostate through the perineum, and an RCOG loads the seeds and removes the needles. The whole thing took less than an hour. I had 54 I-125 seeds implanted. I came home with a catheter. I went back the next day (today) for a follow-up appointment and to have the catheter removed (GLORY!). I had to drink about 24 oz of water in 10 minutes, urinate twice, and then have an ultra-sound of my bladder. It was empty so I was good to go. I have enjoyed an ice pack but thus far, by God's grace and a bunch of prayer, I have not had even a Tylenol for pain!
That's enough for now. I have an initial appointment on March 27th, 2008 to set-up my external beam radiation treatment. I will keep you posted on the rest of my journey.
Thank you to each of you for your willingness to share you story. It has made all the difference.
I have my seed implants on a Thursday. By Monday I was able to return to the gym for weight-lifting and running on the treadmill! Two weeks after seed implants my PSA was 2.07. I received 35 external beam radiation therapy from the RCOG (Radiation College of Georgia) office here in Cumming, GA. The average time from when I got out of my car till I returned to my car was 12 minutes. RCOG has a GREAT staff in Cumming!
I completed radiation therapy on May 23, 2008. The only side-effects I experienced from the therapy was some mild fatigue towards the end of therapy. I completed therapy on a Friday. Sunday evening I got on the Appalachian Trail for a backpacking trip till Wednesday. No problems except have to stop and lay down a couple times a day!
At my September follow-up my PSA was 1.91. At the March 2009 appointment is was 1.15. I have my next six month appointment in October. I will post my score then. I have not had any lasting issues from my therapy.
The only thing I can think of is when I have to urinate, I REALLY have to urinate! The sensation is pretty immediate. No worries though! Thanks.
I am proud to say that nothing has changed, except my PSA continues to go down. On October 1, 2010 it was 0.18. So I am now below the desired 0.20. Now to stay here, forever...
I continue to have no adverse side-effects. Thank You God.
My next six month check- up is March 18, 2011.
My PSA results from my March 21, 2012 screen were less than 0.1.
I continue to have no side-effects!
God is good. Blessings.
I have an upcoming 6 month check-up. Once I get the results from the visit I will update my story.
Bless you all,
March 26, 2014 marked 6 years and 3 days since I finished my last radiation Tx. I am thankful to say my PSA remains <0.1. And I am thankful to say I continue to have no side-effects. Thank you God. Blessings to all of you.
At my 6.5 year check up my PSA continues to be under 0.1. Dr. Shrake said I no longer needed to come in every six months. My next appointment is 9/24/2015.
I just celebrated 7 years cancer-free and no side-effects. Thank you God for each day! Blessings.
I am 8.5 years cancer-free. At my annual check-up my PSA was <.1.
I continue to have no side-effects.
I am aware more and more of what a blessing this is. Thank you God.
Scott's e-mail address is: scott AT scotthearn.com (replace "AT" with "@")