Whenever I’m stressed, I look for bright and intense colors to help me deal with whatever is bothering me. And that’s my theme for this morning. By the time you read this, I will be in surgery today for prostate cancer.
I’ve been dealing with this specific issue for the past twelve months, when — in April of last year — my primary care physician told me my prostate was enlarged and that my Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels were elevated (mine was 5.0; anything below 2.5 is considered normal for my age). I was assured that there was nothing to worry about. Just a precaution, but I did need to be checked by a urologist… and it should not be put off.
The first urologist sucked. He was too rough with his exam — even after I spoke up while it was happening — and I bled for a week afterward. His diagnosis was the same — my prostate was enlarged. But there was no way I was ever going back to him again, not after being manhandled like that in his examination room, so I went to a second urologist.
Much better, but still the same diagnosis. My prostate was at least 50 percent larger than normal; however, it might be from an infection — so I was prescribed a heavy regimen of antibiotics and told to come back at a later date.
The diagnosis remained the same four months later (in August of last year), along with a new PSA test that had my levels at 5.4. Time to schedule a biopsy, because something was not quite right.
Still… I continued to be assured by medical staff that there was nothing to worry about. I was too young, my PSA level was just beginning to edge into the zone to begin decades-long monitoring, I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms, etc. They kept saying that this was all just an exercise in caution by my medical team, to completely rule out any and all potential issues, and determine that everything was actually normal.
Getting the biopsy scheduled was a challenge because a slot had to be found that didn’t conflict with other things that were going on at the time, but it was finally done in mid-November of last year. And then I had to deal with an aggressive E.coli infection that I contracted during the procedure. Two rounds of different antibiotics were required before it was finally defeated. Ugh.
Three weeks later — and one week before I was scheduled to have rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder — the urologist finally delivered the diagnosis no one wants to hear.
That was a punch in the gut… especially after hearing from all the different medical staff over the course of many months that my primary care physician was just being overly concerned and that I couldn’t possibly have anything to worry about.
Even worse? It wasn’t the slow-type of cancer that can be monitored over several decades. No, this was classified as a semi-aggressive type, which needed to be addressed within the next twelve months, preferably sooner.
It was too late for me to back out of the shoulder surgery in mid-December, so I had to wait until I was out of the sling in mid-January before I could ramp up all the necessary medical visits (more exams and lab work, high-definition MRI scans, etc.) to discuss the cancer diagnosis with other specialists (prostate oncologist, medical oncologist, prostate surgeon, systemic geneticist, etc.) and determine with them what the proper course of treatment would be for me.
After many consultations and reviews of all the available lab work, radiation therapy was ruled out as a first option; instead, surgery was promoted as the first option by all the specialists — and if completely successful, that’s all I would need… no radiation, no chemo, and no hormone therapy.
So that’s where I’m at this morning — having the procedure done, followed by at least one night of observation in the hospital, and four weeks of recovery at home. I’ll rest easier knowing that the cancer has been removed, and still easier once the biopsies taken of the surrounding tissues during the surgery come back negative, which will likely take a couple of weeks before I hear anything.
See you on the other side.