One Old Sage

Thoughts, Stories, and Bits of Wisdom

The 7 Things I’ve Personally Learned about Prostate Cancer – Part One

Last November I wrote a post called “What’s a Guy to Do? http://ow.ly/oIljB regarding prostate cancer and the Movember movement in support of prostate cancer research. I had no idea that within a year I would be more closely associated with the subject than I really wanted to be.

You see, about 4 weeks ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

English: Micrograph of prostatic adenocarcinom...

English: Micrograph of prostatic adenocarcinoma, conventional (acinar) type, the most common form of prostate cancer. Prostate biopsy. H&E stain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This certainly isn’t an “oh woe is me” post. In fact, now that I know I have cancer, it is actually a relief. Dumb statement huh? Let me explain.

  • PSA Testing can be a benefit and a curse:
    • I had my first PSA test in my early 50’s. My family physician at the time said to me, “You realize you may be committing to all the procedures that go along with a high PSA if it looks like you may have prostate cancer?” I dutifully replied that I understood without fully understanding I’m sure. Keep in mind that 10 years ago the PSA test was the gold standard to determine if a man may have prostate cancer. How times change in 10 years. As I said in the aforementioned post, with the controversy surrounding PSA and its validity in identifying aggressive cancer, a regular PSA is no longer de riguer. However, this test became my baseline for future tests. It’s now recommended that men get a baseline while they are in their 40’s.
    • Just a reminder that a PSA test won’t show how virulent prostate cancer is and in fact a high PSA rating may not even mean the presence of cancer. It can simply mean that something not right may be going on in the prostate. Further examination is usually warranted.
    • Over the past three years, I watched my PSA slowly and then not so slowly increase. In 18 months it nearly doubled. I walked into my doctor’s office after the last test in early June and she said, “You’re not going to be very happy with me but I’ve made a referral to Dr. C because I’m concerned about your PSA.” I’ve been to Dr. C, my urologist, for a spike of PSA in the past and he saw no need for any further investigation at that time. Having a man with fingers as long as my arm once again probing my nether regions didn’t hold much appeal. Regardless, I trust my FP. Besides being a great doctor she is a wonderful person. Plus, she hasn’t yet led me astray so off I went.
    • I walked into Dr. C’s office and he said, “I think it’s time for a biopsy. Your PSA is getting a little high.” He already had the biopsy form and a prescription for antibiotics filled out.
    • Since Linda and I had no idea what the results might be we cancelled a cruise in November that we were looking forward to. We hadn’t made the final payment and it was due before I would get my results. If I needed surgery or other treatment we couldn’t risk losing our money as travel insurance wouldn’t cover a “pre-existing condition”.
  • The Biopsy wasn’t as Bad as I was Expecting:
    • First, I wasn’t as worried about the biopsy as I thought I’d be. Linda said she was probably more concerned than I was.
    • I wasn’t treated like a number or a piece of meat showing up for inspection. I was escorted to a private treatment room with its own bathroom. Bonus! The technician who welcomed me to the treatment room told me everything that was going to happen and what I should expect. The radiologist did the same and was more than willing to take as much time as needed to answer all my questions. Kudos to both of them.
    • Perhaps I was fortunate but I got a radiologist who had a very deft touch with the local anesthetic. (I’ll let you look up the whole procedure). In our area, the urologists don’t do biopsies. They are done by doctors in the radiology, oops –Diagnostic Imaging Department, of our local hospital. Since our hospital is also the regional referral center for cancer diagnosis and treatment, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the physicians are good at what they do.
    • The biopsy needle caused little pain thanks to Dr. K’s anesthetic. The most disconcerting part was hearing the noise as the spring loaded contraption fired. Now if the good Dr. K had done a “Clear on the right! Clear on the left! Clear on the firing line! Fire!” I would have been a little worried.
    • I had very little pain and it was easily managed with some extra strength Tylenol. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was uncomfortable for a few days and I wasn’t about to do a long bike ride (not that I ride a bike) but I’ve had dental work done that hurt more.
  • Post biopsy infections are a bitch!
    • One of the possible side effects of a prostate biopsy is getting a prostate infection. To try to mitigate the possibility, patients are required to take antibiotics starting the day of the biopsy and for two days after. But guess what? I got an infection anyway. After 3 weeks of high dose antibiotics, it looks like I have it beat.
    • Note to self, the next time you get a hint of an infection, GO TO THE DOCTOR!

In the next post, I’ll tell you how I reacted to the diagnosis and the course of action that I have chosen.

22 comments on “The 7 Things I’ve Personally Learned about Prostate Cancer – Part One

  1. Rivki Silver
    September 15, 2013

    Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and I will definitely keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and look forward to hearing good news (and also whatever you feel like posting, be it venting or anything like that, of course).

  2. Lynette d'Arty-Cross
    September 15, 2013

    Thanks for letting us know about this, Nelson. My very best wishes are with you, my friend.

  3. philblog100
    September 12, 2013

    Hi, best wishes for a successful outcome! This condition can take a heavy toll physically, emotionally and financially. I was diagnosed three years ago with prostate cancer and have completed a blog hoping my story will help others – philblog100.wordpress.com. Cheers, Phil

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      September 12, 2013

      Thanks and thanks for directing me to your site. I think we men need to be much more open about dealing with prostate cancer. The support network for women dealing with breast cancer is incredible.

  4. Anka
    September 11, 2013

    Nelson, you’re so brave to share your diagnosis with us. I can’t imagine the thoughts racing through your head. Please keep us posted. Hoping and praying for TOTAL victory in your life!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      September 11, 2013

      Thank you Anka. I will post as and if things change or I just feel like venting. You take care of yourself and that new human you are carrying. I’m so looking forward to hearing about the happy day. I’m sure it will bring a tear to my eye. :)

  5. Pingback: The 7 Things I’ve Personally Learned about Prostate Cancer – Part Two | Ramblings From A Mum

  6. Knot Telling
    September 10, 2013

    Ah, Nelson. I’m sorry you’ve joined the cancer club. Anything I can do in a virtually way, just shout.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      September 10, 2013

      Thank you very much. I’m doing very well. It was caught early that goodnes. I just had the bone scan and now I’m afraid to turn out the lights in case I glow. :)

      It’s wonderful to hear from you and I hope you are doing well.

  7. Cindy Patrick
    September 9, 2013

    Nelson, you are marvelous! What a journey and what an incredible gift you share along the way- honesty into your private world and generous help for others. It is a pleasure to know you and hope I can be of support in any way possible throughout. Your friendship is a gift to me. I wish I could hug you – and Linda!

  8. lifeisfullofsunnydays
    September 9, 2013

    You seem to be taking it all in stride. Keep your sense of humour. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

  9. Our Life In 3D
    September 9, 2013

    Yes, If you can help others get that early testing done than you have done your job. Similar to breast cancer, early detection is key. … and yes infections suck. I’m crossing my fingers!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      September 9, 2013

      Let’s hope the message gets out. Yes good luck on staying away from those nasty infections.

  10. Jane Campbell
    September 9, 2013

    Good luck to you!
    My son was 42 when he had his prostate removed (yes, cancer) and his sense of humour (much like yours) was the best medicine. Five years later and cancer free, he is more active than ever. He does own a bike, and he can now go for those long rides!

  11. ramblingsfromamum
    September 9, 2013

    I am only hitting the like button as you have written a very informative post which will hopefully help other men to ‘keep check’. I am not liking that you have developed prostate cancer and I hope through treatments ahead that you are able to kick the butt out of this insidious disease. My Mr. S has his PSA levels checked regularly, as all men should. You did make me laugh with the spring loaded contraption and not riding a bike though. Thank you for sharing Nelson and my thoughts are with you my friend. (hugs)

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      September 9, 2013

      Thanks so much. We might as well laugh about a few things. Make sure Mr. S keeps getting tested in spite of the current mixed thinking on the subject.

      • ramblingsfromamum
        September 9, 2013

        You have a good and positive attitude and that I like. Yes I shall – thanks Nelson.

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