“If you’re going to get cancer, this is the one to get”
“The results of your biopsy are back and they found cancer on your prostate,” began the doctor over the phone. I was more concerned that he chose to tell me, someone he barely knew, in such a manner as opposed to it being in person rather than what the news was. That’s because I already knew inside that something was wrong. It started in April, 2016, when I went to my general practitioner for a checkup. “How are you doing?” my doctor asked. “To be honest doc, I don’t feel right.”
He asked a series of questions and had the nurse draw some blood. They immediately analyzed it then he returned. “Well that’s a good sign”, he said, not fully explaining what the test was for, or what was going on. He then suggested I go to the lab and have a PSA test done. “What’s that for?” I asked. The PSA (Prostate=-specific Antigen) test screens for signs of prostate cancer among other things. The results of my test came back with a score of 5.5. My next visit, he told me to have another test a month or so later.
That test results came back over 6. “OK, time to go see a specialist”, he told me. In short order I was sent for additional tests: CT scan, PET scan, MRI, where they found some areas of concern. Next step – biopsy. They took six samples from my walnut sized prostate, a stapler ‘pinch’ for each of the samples. Not great but not painful. The results of which brought us to where the story began. “Well you’ve got options”, said my oncologist, after Tina and I had devoured reams of literature online. But at your age, my suggestion is to have surgery to remove the entire prostate gland, he said. That figures, I said to myself. That’s exactly what I expected a surgically trained oncologist to say… But then he surprised me. I’d like to send you to Keck Medical Center at USC in downtown Los Angeles. The surgeon he suggested was the grand master of such procedures, having done several thousand of them.
After considering various options, from Watchful Watching to radiation seed planting and more, I decided on a radical prostatectomy, the complete removal of the prostate gland. Ever the wise guy, I said to Tina “you can’t have prostate cancer if you don’t have a prostate!”
The procedure was dreamlike, the recovery strange, not painful but somewhat unnerving, the rehab, so far the results are that I’m cancer free. So now, I am a cancer survivor. My newspaper this week is writing a story on how prostate cancer is a topic that men just don’t want to discuss. “No” I said to my editor, “it’s not that men don’t want to talk about it, it’s that many men don’t know how to talk about it.” But they should.
“If you’re going to get cancer, this is the one to get” said my doctor. And I guess it’s true – prostate cancer, while being prevalent, is treatable and has a very high survivor rate. The key is finding out about it early. So do yourself a favor, get a PSA test if you’re over 45 and keep your eyes open. Things happen in life and in this case, you can do something about it!
the tough guy
This is a love story about a man and his family. Charlie Robison so fiercely loved his wife and daughters that he fought prostate cancer with all his might for 13 years. His family loved him so fiercely in return that they were beside him every step of the way during his valiant battle. And now that it has ended, they continue to honor him by working in his name to defeat this heartbreaking disease.
So, you’re 42. You’re into health and fitness, and fairly attuned to your body: you know something’s not right with your urinary tract, and you go to the doctor to get it checked out.
Prostate cancer’s not on your radar. Why should it be? You’re young, you’re healthy, you have no family history of prostate cancer – or any other cancer, for that matter.