| | One month after...
I've been lurking on the board for the past couple of months and I appreciate the help I received in making my "knife vs nuke" decision. Since that part of its over I figured that it was time to join up and share my experiences.
Back in May I got the dreaded call from my doc after a bunch of routine blood work. He said that my PSA was 4.7 - up from 2 the year before - and I should see the urologist to see what was happening. A digital exam found a small lump and of course the next step was a biopsy. Around the end of July the biopsy results came back and showed cancer in 2 of the 12 cores. My urologist also wanted to do a bone scan - I'm not sure if he was being conservative or saw something that he didn't like. I got in to see him around the first of August and found that they'd found 40% Gleason 7 (3+4) in one core and 10% Gleason 6 (3+3) in the other. The bone scan came back negative other than lots of arthritis. I replied that any fool could see that I had arthritis if they watched me walk and move. The next step was to figure out what to do. The Doc said that if I was 70 he'd probably recommend that we do nothing other than PSA tests and biopsies, but since I was a "young" (I kind of liked that) 60 we ought to go after the cancer.
So I set up appointments with a radiation doc and a surgeon. Both were very patient and caring with me. After lots of research and prayer my wife and I decided to go the surgery route. My nephew was getting married back in PA the first weekend in October and we really wanted to go to the wedding. So we set up the surgery for Oct 16. My doc didn't feel that there would be a problem if we waited until that date, although I will admit that I was a little nervous about walking around with an active cancer inside me for about six weeks.
I had the DaVinci procedure done on Tuesday October 16 at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City by Dr Brian Link. The procedure itself was relatively easy Ė in the hospital at 0500, into surgery at 0700 and in my room by about 1200. I was pretty doped up most of the day. I had a catheter and IV plugged into me and that sort of restricted my movements. I sort of slept on Tuesday night. Wednesday I was given some liquids and they pulled a drain out of one of my incisions. I have a total of six holes in me Ė 4 horizontal cuts about 1Ē long at the belt line, a vertical cut abut 1 1/2 ď long above the navel, and a ľĒ cut to the right of the navel. The incisions have healed up very nicely with no infections or problems.
I was released from the hospital on Wednesday Oct 17 and I made it home okay. I spent a couple of days just sort of lying around. I did get out and walk around the block a couple of times a day. I still had the catheter in at that time using a big bag at night and a small walk around bag strapped to my leg during the day. The catheter was very uncomfortable. I often took a hit of Lortab pain killer just to keep me from thinking about the discomfort. Even with that I managed to get to church for an hour on October 21.
I got back to Dr. Link on Monday Oct 22. I got the catheter out Ė a major morale improvement. The removal was a little painful but it went pretty quick. Dr Link also informed me that my pathology report came back with the Gleason score on the prostate downgraded to 6 (3+3) which indicates that the cancer was a little less aggressive than they had originally thought. The rest of the good news is that there was nothing outside of the prostate and the lymph nodes in the area were clear as well. So right now I do not have cancer and I believe that the odds of it coming back are extremely low. Thereís no requirement for radiation or chemo. All Iíll need to do is check my PSA reading and hope that it never moves up again.
Iím wearing an adult diaper because I donít have good control over my bladder at this point. I feel that the muscle control is starting to come back and thereís some improvement over the last few weeks so Iím confident that the plumbing will eventually be in order. I'm wearing one Depends per day as long as I don't drink too much coffee or limit myself to one beer in the evening.
Back to the calendar. I went back to work on light duty on October 29. I was out of work for nine days which isnít too bad. Iíll be released from light duty on Nov 20 which is five weeks after the surgery. My next appointment with Dr Link is Nov 28 and I hope to be able to give him a good report about my bladder control at that time.
I guess that the next step is to see if we can get some lead back in my pencil. I actually have felt a couple of stirrings of an erection and I think that some more healing - and maybe some chemistry - might do me some good. Weíll see how it works out.
So whatís my view of the whole experience?
First off Iím glad that I did the surgery. I probably could have delayed for a while, maybe even for several years, but this process is best done when youíre young and in reasonable physical shape. Dr Link said, ďWhen the cancer is in a stainless steel bucket, it canít hurt you.Ē That is what really sold me on surgery and I still believe in that idea today.
At this point I would describe my recovery process as fairly easy. I was never in a lot of pain except for a couple of short incidents (drain and catheter removal). I still tire very easily and I donít really like the urine problems but that is improving so I think Iíll be okay there.
I wonít describe the last few months as easy Ė they were not. The cancer monster, big or little, scares the hell out of you. Even when the monster isnít bad it is still a big deal. Iíve learned that sometimes you have to admit that youíre scared and you donít know what to do. Iíve also learned that prayer and love and the support of your friends will help to kill that monster. It became very important for me to know that people were praying for me and wished me well.
I have been very open and public about my experiences. I want other men to know that they can survive prostate cancer. I want them to know that they should test early and often. I also want them to know that they can beat the monster when it does come to visit. The fight can be won and, considering the alternatives, it really isnít all that bad.
Thanks to all of you for your help and good advice.
Never, never, never give up