After over 20 appointments with a variety of doctors and therapists it turns out my Prostatitis is in fact Prostate Cancer.
Let’s rewind a little bit…
Back in May I started having some urinary issues. I was getting up several times a night to pee. I was having trouble starting and stopping. After I started peeing every half-hour I visited Urgent Care. The Urgent Care doctor diagnosed me with Prostatitis, a painful inflammation of the Prostate gland. A follow-up with two different urologists confirmed the diagnosis. Each urologist performed their own Digital Rectal Exam ( DRE ) and independently reported that I was sporting a “large squishy prostate with no noticeable tumors”. Sexy, right? My second urologist even went as far as to ( cough, cough ) “milk” my Prostate for bacterial analysis.
The rear end is the porthole to “everything prostate” and mine was well traveled at this point.
Due to my age ( 43 ) and the negative DRE’s I was put through several rounds of antibiotics and physical therapy. I was given a Prostate-specific antigen ( PSA ) test to see if I was a candidate for a drug called Finasteride. Finasteride is one of several drugs that is used to shrink the prostate. It is given to men with enlarged prostates, or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia ( BPH ) to help alleviate symptoms. A PSA test is a simple blood test that is typically performed on men over 50 to check for prostate inflammation. PSA tests are not usually administered to men suffering from Prostatitis as the inflammation can skew the numbers. A PSA under 2.5 is considered normal. Mine? 78.38. I’ve always been an overachiever.
After two more elevated PSA tests ( 80.85 and 76.81 ) and persistent pain my urologist decided that I should get a Prostate Biopsy. A Prostate Biopsy is a surgical procedure where a doctor goes through your rear end ( yes, again ) and take 6-12 “cores”, or samples from the prostate. A pathology report is then performed and a Gleason Score is attributed with each sample. The Gleason Score measures the aggressiveness of the cancer. All 12 of my samples came back with cancer. 11 of the 12 were in the 8’s and 9’s. The 12th came back as a 10. My urologist, wife, and I were all shocked.
Sometimes you win the wrong lottery.
After a biopsy comes back positive for cancer the next thing a doctor does is prescribe scans to see if and where the cancer has spread. I spent the better part of a day with my wife, Jodie getting a Nuclear Bone Scan and a Computed Tomography ( CT ) Scan. A Nuclear Bone Scan is used to determine if the cancer has spread to your bones. It requires you to be injected with a small amount of radioactive material. After a couple of hours the material binds with the bones in your skeleton after which you are placed under a large machine resembling an automotive lift. The machine slowly moves down your body and detects where the radioactive material accumulated in your skeleton. A CT scan requires the injection of a “contrast” into your blood. This time you are placed in a large machine resembling an enormous toilet bowl. The machine takes a 3D image of your body and using the contrast, can determine if the cancer has spread to any nearby organs. After a radiologist reviews your scans you meet with an oncologist and for me, a surgeon.
Let’s fast forward to this week …
Over the last couple of days I met with a surgeon and an oncologist to go over my scans. The good news is that my cancer hasn’t spread to my bones or any distant organs. The bad news is that it has likely spread to a nearby lymph node. The oncologist that I met with couldn’t accurately stage me through the biopsy or scans but predicted that I would be a “high” Stage III or a Stage IV. The big differentiation is that a Stage III is curable whereas a Stage IV is treatable.
The plan is to perform a Radical Prostatectomy, or the removal of my prostate and nearby lymph nodes on November 7th. The sole coolness factor is that the procedure is done robotically through two small incisions. The downsides are many. The recovery can take several months during which I will likely have incontinence, swelling, and libido issues. I imagine these are the some of the same issues a woman suffers after a C-Section without the benefit of a new baby at the end. Three months following my surgery another PSA test will be administered. If everything goes well my PSA test will be zero and I will just have to have regular tests administered to track any signs of cancer. However, if my PSA test is not zero it means that my cancer still persists and I will likely undergo radiation and hormone suppressing treatment. For good measure I am planning on getting two more second opinions from other oncologists prior to my surgery.
The cat’s out of the bag …
As of yesterday, my daughters, Ashley and Kaylee are aware of my Prostate Cancer. Their first question was obviously, “Are you going to die?”. I caught myself before responding, “…well, everyone does at some point” and told them firmly, “No. Absolutely not.” After a few more questions they happily went about their evening and promptly went across the street to the neighbors house to disseminate the news. At bedtime I read them a book my mom bought me called, “Cancer Party”. I can’t recommend this book enough for younger children. It takes a lighthearted informative approach to explaining everything cancer, radiation, and chemotherapy.
In the meantime my wife, Jodie has taken it upon herself to help cure me through food. She’s read more books on healthy eating over the past few months than I can count. Together we have become superfood-eating pescatarians because God forbid we give up sushi. Our Frappuccinos have been replaced with green tea and our ice cream with dark chocolate. It would be a lot more traumatic if she weren’t such a good cook.
Moving forward I plan on posting regular updates on my progress here at DrawnAndCoded. I never ever intended this site to be used in such a manner but I am uncomfortable posting on normal social media channels such as Facebook. My ultimate goal will be to keep everything as upbeat and informative as possible. And yes, there will still be comics and the occasional programming article as well.
Last but not least. Since my Prostate Cancer diagnoses I have received an overwhelming amount of support from my family, my friends, and complete strangers ( now, friends ). You know who you are. Thank you for your love and support. And please keep it coming.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
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