Written by Joel Klaassen Wednesday, 31 October 2007 13:10I never expected to hear the words, “you have cancer.” Not in a million years. But I heard them on Sept. 11—and that it was prostate cancer in the early stages and would be curable with surgery.
I don’t share this story looking for sympathy. I want to share it because I learned that prostate cancer will affect one in 11 men during a lifetime and that the knowledge I gained might be helpful for someone else.
It’s been quite a journey since July, when my regular blood work showed my Prostate-Specific Antigen was slightly elevated but had spiked quite a bit since the last PSA. The PSA is the bench line for gaining clues to the possibility of prostate cancer—and it doesn’t hurt one bit. From here on, though, it does hurt a little.
A trip to Hillsboro Community Medical Center in August revealed that a tumor was present; a biopsy would be required to determine if it was cancerous. The biopsy took place at Newton Medical Center.
When I was told the bad news, I was like deer in the headlights as I knew practically nothing about prostate cancer. It was recommended that I see a surgeon in Wichita to remove the prostate and the cancer with it.
Because of my age, it is recommended that the cancer be removed, and I had signed up to have it done in Wichita the radical way. But as I spoke with others who had experienced this problem, I learned a new type of robotic surgery was less invasive and provides for a shorter recovery time.
A good friend from Hillsboro, who had researched this new treatment, told me he had checked out the new procedure in case he would eventually need it. His research was through the KU Medical Center. I sent an e-mail to his doctor there and, amazingly, got an e-mail back within 20 minutes saying that he would have his assistant set up a consultation for a second opinion and even scheduled a surgery date at that time. Within a week I was in Kansas City finding out about my options.
What impressed me about the surgeons with whom I consulted was that neither tried to rush me into a decision. They explained all of five options. Research indicates the success for radiation and surgery is about equal for the first 10 years, then surgery begins to win out.
I really would like more than 10 years, God willing, so the decision was made to go robotic. I checked out their success rates and got good recommendations from others—even as I had gotten good recommendations for the Wichita surgeon.
Last week Tuesday, I had the robotic surgery and now am back home getting on my feet. It was even announced in church that a robot was going to do surgery; I had to make a correction that a doctor was going to operate a robot for the procedure.
It was about a 31⁄2-hour surgery. Amazingly, there was no big incision, only five small holes that look like I got in the way of Bonnie and Clyde during one of their bank-job getaways.
Here’s my point for all males past age 40: If you have a history of cancer in the family, start getting your blood work done on annually so you develop a PSA history that can indicate cancer in the early stages if it happens. The probability that it will is higher than you might think. Like me, you may not have any symptoms that cancer exists.
The whole episode is still a blur. But I remember that the care providers at KU were fantastic…even though the gloves they use are purple. How could there be purple gloves at the KU Medical Center?