Well I have been lurking on this site for a couple of months now. Generally I find the stories here very inspiring.
However, I was a bit disturbed today to see how quickly a couple of members were to suggest a member leave his doctor because the doctor was late -- well quite late -- for an appointment. The doctor is in fact my oncologist and I credit him with my top notch surgery. Anyway, I will stop lurking and tell my story.
Age: 63 Semi-retired for 9 years; finally retired fully in fall of 08 to start the good life!!
Family History: 3 brothers, 4 sisters -- mother died of cervical cancer but no cancer in children
Apr 09 - After 8 months of the good life, my GP booked an appointment with urologist because of high PSA indicated a possibility of prostate cancer. Didn't even know what that was!!
May 09 - Saw Dr. Chin, urologist at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario. DRE revealed no abnormalities but a biopsy was indicated.
June 09 - Hey what's happening to my good life retirement. 12 core biopsy done in June -- very straightfoward painless procedure. Optimistic there would be no cancer because none of my 3 brothers has cancer and the oldest is 70
July 09 - Back to see Dr. Chin -- stunned to learn two cores were positive for cancer -- one at 5% and one at 25% -- Dr. Chin indicated the Gleason scores were 3 + 3 which were among the lowest Gleason scores detectable which meant the cancer was progressing at a walking speed as compared to jet speed which would be an aggressive cancer. He could see that I was stunned and suggested there was no rush for my case and that I make another appointment shortly and do some reading and research before coming in.
I remained pretty devastated. Oh God this can't be happening to me. I am just starting my retirement. What are those waves of doubt going through my mind?
To make matters worse, my son-in-law had just lost his mother to cancer in a matter of a few months after diagnosis in Feb 09 which had really shaken me. However after my son-in-law got on the computer, he asssured me that my prostate cancer generally had good outcomes. That helped settle me down. Whew!! I could stop writing my obit!!
Spent the summer doing a lot of reading and research. Found out that Dr. Chin is one of the best surgeons in Canada for cancer surgery.
Became aware there are ongoing studies involving watchful waiting or active surveillance and discussed this briefly with Dr. Chin. However, my daughter who is a chip off the old block said if it were her, she would have the cancer removed. Since I trust her implicitly, I decided to follow her advice.
Booked my surgery, radical retropubic prostatectomy (what an awful name!! who wants to tell their friends they are having this operation!!) for Oct 23 09. Could have had robotic but there were no openings until January of next year.
Had a long summer! Probably read way too much on the internet about problems people have had.
Had my surgery Fri Oct 23, In recovery a long time, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., because they did not have a bed for me (Ontario health system!!) Expected significant pain but had no pain (I must have gotten some pain medication through the IVs) but whenever they asked "how's your pain on a scale from 1 to 10?", I kept saying 0. Heck, my hernia surgeries thirty years ago were much more painful.
Saturday I was up walking up and down the hall three or four times. Discovered I was not in the prostate surgery recovery ward but my bed had been found in the thoracic ward. No wonder I heard the nurses say I was a dream patient!! Spend a night and day seeing these patients post surgery and the "why me for prostate cancer" disappears.
Never knew I would be so happy to pass gas and get on a liquid diet. I got my release Sunday at noon -- I was so happy to go -- not because I was in any pain -- I just wanted to be in my own home.
After my summer reading, I was waiting for a lot of things to happen. Bladder spasms -- surely they would bring me to my knees. There were none.
Surely the catheter would be hugely uncomfortable -- it was not pleasant but not a pain at all.
I had read your penis could become infected and fall off. I checked the end of my penis each day. Kept it antisceptically clean just in case. Didn't fall off although it might as well have (more on that later).
Bought a cushion to sit on to ease expected pain. No problem.
Got the catheter out two weeks later. The doctor took out the catheter in one deft stroke and put everything in the waste basket. I just gushed - pee that is. Good thing I was wearing my Tena absorbent pants.
After we got back, my daughter brought my granddaughter over to visit. As I felt a constant drip, drip, drip, I thought "well she is getting out of diapers and I am going back into them."
I was glad that as always I was prepared for the situation. I like to be prepared (you should have seen my stockpile of food, water, and flashlights during the Y2K debacle - took a couple of years to use up!!).
I had 50 Tena pants and 50 absorbent pads.
The first afternoon I didn't have any control. I thought thank goodness I am well stocked.
That night I slept very well and the next morning I found that after years of restricted urine flow I could pee like a horse and hold it "pretty well." Well four weeks later I am still leaky from time to time but hey I have to use up my supplies.
Dec 16 09 - My current situation.
My pathology report came back clean so I am very happy with my decision. However, that is tempered with the thought that I am still near the beginning of a long journey.
Of course I have to write about ED. Most older patients write about ED problems after the surgery and I found they were spot on in that regard.
When I got the catheter out I went "Huh, that is not the size it was before. There go the good times!!"
Seven weeks after surgery no amount of cajoling, teasing, begging, or gently touching (well even more than gentle) will cause even the slightest reaction. This is not good for an organ that sprang into action at even the slightest indication of a good time. I pray I don't have to wait the two years that some have reported.
So that is it. I found an excellent doctor. I made a decision that was family based and I have not looked back. We all feel that the action I took has optimized my chances of seeing my grandchildren grow up.
Cancer is tough. My journey, of course, is not over yet. I get my first post operative PSA done in January so being the worry wart I am I shall worry.
But let me say that this site does provide much supportive reading and I thank the members for that.
For those of you just learning you have PC, may God give you strength and a bit of humour as you begin your journey.
May you all enjoy the festive season with your families!!