Update on Veterans Benefits-Vietnam Vets-Agent Orange-Prostate Cancer

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Sonny3
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2447
   Posted 3/8/2010 6:02 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello my PCa Brothers and Sisters,

Thought it was time I checked back in, been away for a while trying out the new RV and getting back on the field with my college umpiring.

It is almost 6 months since my da Vinci and 2 months post IMRT. As most of you know the first PSA test following IMRT was not the results we were looking for and so another is scheduled for later this month. ED is still an issue, not much new happening there and continence is still about the same.

Thanks to the wonderful folks here at HW, it was brought to my attention that as a Vietnam Veteran I was eligible for VA benefits because PCa was on the list as one of those maladies that were a presumptive "caused" by exposure to Agent Orange.

In October I filed a preliminary "Intent to file Claim" with the VA. This was done to establish my filing date and to be followed with the actual claim once all of the post surgery reports and tests were compiled. I filed the official claim in mid January. The local office told me it could take a while (6 months or more) as there were over 900,000 new claims currently in the process, but that once approved my benefits would be retroactive to the October date. I was prepared for a long wait.

This week-end I received a letter from the VA telling me I had two appointments scheduled for March 24th. The first is for lab work and then followed by a meeting with the doctor. It is my understanding that PCa by itself qualifies for 100% disability ($2943 per month) and that if the test results show that the IMRT has done it's job then the resulting continence and ED issues will result in a benefit of no less than 60%.

This post is not only to update on the process but to make others aware that they may also need to look into VA benefits for themselves. In addition to the monthly benefits, once approved, I will then be eligible for all VA medical benefits.

The biggy in this is that those extremely valuable ED rehab medicines we all seem to need (Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, etc.) would then be available to me at "NO COST" and "NO QUANTITY" restrictions. NO more hassles with the Insurance companies and no more large out of pocket expenses. That is truly a real and great benefit.

Just FYI and trying to do my part in providing valuable information to my PCa brothers,

Sonny
60 years old when diagnosed
PSA 11/07 3.0
PSA 5/09 6.4
Diagnosis confirmed July 9, 2009
12 Needle Biopsy = 9 clear , 3 postive
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 in all positive cores
da Vinci 9/17/09
Post Surgery Pathology: GS 4+3=7
Stage: T3a
Tumor Volume 12.5%
positive margin, extra-prostatic extension
30 day PSA 0.4, 50 day psa 0.53, 64 day psa 0.6
IMRT completed 1/15/10 35 treatments- 70Gy


Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25380
   Posted 3/8/2010 7:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Sonny, those letter's mark an important step in getting your final disability approval. Right now, on mine, I am being told that after the fury of much correspondence for weeks and weeks on my claim, I am now in the period of no news is good news. Haven't heard anything now for nearly 2 months, but my locat vet rep said that was a good sign. Please keep me posted on yours. I think my final paperwork went in about 2 weeks before yours if I remember rightly.

David in SC
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Incontinence:  1 Month     ED:  Non issue at any point post surgery, no problem post SRT
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Post SRT PSA: 1/10 .12
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out 38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - 11/27 IMRT SRT 39 sess/72 gys ,cath #8 33 days, Cath #9 35 days, 12/7 - Cath #10 43 days, 1/19 - Corr Surgery #4,  Caths #11 and #12  same time, 2/8-Cath #11 out - 21 days, 3/2- Cath #12 out - 41 days, 3/2- Corr Surgery #5, Caths #13 & #14 same time, 3/6 Cath #13 out - 4 days


60Michael
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 2222
   Posted 3/8/2010 8:25 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Sonny and hope all goes well for you. I got my "Brown envelope" from the VA about 7-8 weeks ago and a short time later I started receiving my benefits. My might have been easier to process since I was wounded and the VA already had a case file on me. Also I filed in September and it was retroactive as you said. Good to know about the ED meds as I did not know about that. I am thankful to the VA but as I tell people I would rather not be in this position at all. Enjoy that RV and maybe I can meet up with you and David when you get to Greenville. I might be off the pot by then.
Michael
Dx with PCA 12/08 2 out of 12 cores positive 4.5 psa
59 yo when diagnosed
Robotic surgery 5/09 Atlanta, Ga
Catheter out after 10 days
Gleason upgraded to 3+5, volume less than 10%
Margin slightly involved
2 pads per day, 1 depends but getting better,
8/5 1 depend at night only, now none
 started ED tx 7/17, slow go
Post op dx of neuropathy
3 months psa.01, 6 month psa.4, 6 1/2 month psa.5
Starting IMRT on 1/18/10
Great family and friends
Michael


Sonny3
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2447
   Posted 3/8/2010 9:22 AM (GMT -6)   
David, I will surely keep you posted about the medical process and when the pay starts rolling in.

Michael, they already had a file on me too. Seems I had a VA number from when I applied for college aid after I got out of the Navy. We'll let you know when we head north and look forward to meeting you in person. Don't worry about being off the pot, the coach is equipped with a very nice bath facility. LOL

Sonny
60 years old when diagnosed
PSA 11/07 3.0
PSA 5/09 6.4
Diagnosis confirmed July 9, 2009
12 Needle Biopsy = 9 clear , 3 postive
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 in all positive cores
da Vinci 9/17/09
Post Surgery Pathology: GS 4+3=7
Stage: T3a
Tumor Volume 12.5%
positive margin, extra-prostatic extension
30 day PSA 0.4, 50 day psa 0.53, 64 day psa 0.6
IMRT completed 1/15/10 35 treatments- 70Gy


Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25380
   Posted 3/8/2010 11:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Michael, glad you got yours approved and rolling in.

I got a VA card the year I got out, in 1972, as I was still requiring VA care even after I was discharged.

Sonny, you are one step closer. My Vet rep said, if my doctor reports were complete enough, they often dont make you get re-tested and re-evaluated, but that's here in SC..

David
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Incontinence:  1 Month     ED:  Non issue at any point post surgery, no problem post SRT
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Post SRT PSA: 1/10 .12
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out 38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - 11/27 IMRT SRT 39 sess/72 gys ,cath #8 33 days, Cath #9 35 days, 12/7 - Cath #10 43 days, 1/19 - Corr Surgery #4,  Caths #11 and #12  same time, 2/8-Cath #11 out - 21 days, 3/2- Cath #12 out - 41 days, 3/2- Corr Surgery #5, Caths #13 & #14 same time, 3/6 Cath #13 out - 4 days


Sonny3
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2447
   Posted 3/8/2010 5:27 PM (GMT -6)   
David,

I called my guy this morning and told him about the letter. He said that would be the last step before they started sending me the checks. YEEHAW. Apparently it's the norm in this district. No biggie, I expect to fail the next PSA test anyway.

Hope you are feeling better.

Sonny
60 years old when diagnosed
PSA 11/07 3.0
PSA 5/09 6.4
Diagnosis confirmed July 9, 2009
12 Needle Biopsy = 9 clear , 3 postive
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 in all positive cores
da Vinci 9/17/09
Post Surgery Pathology: GS 4+3=7
Stage: T3a
Tumor Volume 12.5%
positive margin, extra-prostatic extension
30 day PSA 0.4, 50 day psa 0.53, 64 day psa 0.6
IMRT completed 1/15/10 35 treatments- 70Gy


Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25380
   Posted 3/8/2010 6:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Sonny, you sound a step away from being good to go. I am hoping to hear something soon myself. Happy for you. If we have to deal with this terrible cancer, and since we are Viet Nam vets, we do nothing wrong is seeking this monetary relief.

David in SC

My best to Lynne and your big "a" motor home!!!
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Incontinence:  1 Month     ED:  Non issue at any point post surgery, no problem post SRT
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Post SRT PSA: 1/10 .12
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out 38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - 11/27 IMRT SRT 39 sess/72 gys ,cath #8 33 days, Cath #9 35 days, 12/7 - Cath #10 43 days, 1/19 - Corr Surgery #4,  Caths #11 and #12  same time, 2/8-Cath #11 out - 21 days, 3/2- Cath #12 out - 41 days, 3/2- Corr Surgery #5, Caths #13 & #14 same time, 3/6 Cath #13 out - 4 days


seaofpee
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 3/10/2010 11:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Sonny 3. Thanks for the va info. Also a viet vet. Have recieved benefits and was told after 8 months they will  give a percentage of disability. 60 % would be awesome, after no income thru this mess. Will stay in touch.
Rich
First surgery October 09, that's when they found psa of 5.4
December biopsy  gleason  7  3+4
January 20 rp
psa 2 weeks after 0.06 Thank God.
I feel blessed.  The surgeon said the cancer was starting to come out of the prostate.
ed. still there no progress uro says pump will help
age 58
cialis caused 3 day headache
surgery done in Denver


Sonny3
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 2447
   Posted 3/11/2010 6:46 AM (GMT -6)   
Rich,

I am glad to see that a fellow vet has also made it through the maze of VA benefits approval. Just a few days ago the local paper had a story that stated there are at present over 1 millions claims in the process and a significant number of them are for Vietnam vets. They went on to say that they are currently in the process of automating a large part of the process to streamline it and insure that claims are processed more quickly.

You mentioned you have been receiving benefits already. Did you receive any for PCa or are they granting you benefits based on ED and incontinence issues? This might be valuable info for others that look here for successful outcomes to filing for benefits.

Good luck through all of this PCa journey,

Sonny
60 years old when diagnosed
PSA 11/07 3.0
PSA 5/09 6.4
Diagnosis confirmed July 9, 2009
12 Needle Biopsy = 9 clear , 3 postive
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 in all positive cores
da Vinci 9/17/09
Post Surgery Pathology: GS 4+3=7
Stage: T3a
Tumor Volume 12.5%
positive margin, extra-prostatic extension
30 day PSA 0.4, 50 day psa 0.53, 64 day psa 0.6
IMRT completed 1/15/10 35 treatments- 70Gy


Sunbird
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 140
   Posted 3/11/2010 9:51 AM (GMT -6)   
For my fellow Veterans who are unable to achieve 100% schedular ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs for Service Connected Disabilities, you may be able to go the Individual Unemployability (IU) Route with lower percentages of service connected disabilities if these disabilities prevent you from participating in "gainful" employment. IU pays at the 100% disabled rate although your percentages don't compute with
VA math to the 100% level.

"Google" Veterans Benefits Network, a website designed and moderated by Veterans to assist Veterans navigating the maze of VA regulations addressing service connected disability issues..........Sunbird
1996, Age 48, Stage III Colon Ca, Colon Resection followed by 18 chemo treatments.
 
2000, Colon Ca Metastasis to upper left lung lobe.  Lung lobe surgically removed.  24 chemo treatments scheduled.  Took 1, declined the rest.
 
9/08 PSA is 2.8, 12/08 PSA is 4.56??  Chalk it up to prostatitis due to urinary retention after Nissen Fundo Surgery.  VA docs prescribe 30 days of Septra.  Prostate feels normal.  PSA hovers around 4.1.  VA docs want prostate biopsy but can't seem to get me into the schedule.  Continue through Spring and Fall of 2009 thinking I have prostatitis.  Bacteria cultures are always neg.  PSA drops to 3.1 10/09.
 
12/09 Prostate Biopsy performed
3 of 10 cores positive, 5%, 25%, & 35%, 3 + 3= Gleason Six with perineural invasion.
 
Doc wants CT Scan due to prior Colon Ca. Findings: "The seminal vesicles are irregular & there is nodularity in the periprostatic fat such that local extension cannot be excluded.  Shotty lymph nodes in both groin measuring 2.3 cm."
 
Doc wants Endo-rectal MRI (OUCH!) Findings: Mild central zone BPH, no discrete focus of carcinoma is identified, no evidience of invasion into the periprostatic fat or seminal vesicles.  Normal size iliac chain lymph nodes.
 
2/08/10 Open RP surgery.  Findings: Gleason Six upgraded to Seven.  3 + 4, Stage pT2c, Bilateral w/perineural invasion, No pos lymph nodes,  margins uninvolved, no extraprostatic extension, no seminal vesicle extension,  39 grams, blood loss 1200 ml (didn't want a transfusion & didn't get one) nerve bundles spared bilaterally.  current age-61


seaofpee
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 3/11/2010 10:31 AM (GMT -6)   
Sonny,
So far receiving benefits for AG-prostate cancer, incontenence and related issues. Will see the va doc this month for more evalutaions as I understand. As far as ed and loss of organ % i guess that comes after the eight month when they revaluate you. Not sure on all of this but so far is good. 25 years ago I tried to sign up and was told not to waste their time.
Sunbird thank for the info.
Rich
First surgery October 09, that's when they found psa of 5.4
December biopsy  gleason  7  3+4
January 20 rp
psa 2 weeks after 0.06 Thank God.
I feel blessed.  The surgeon said the cancer was starting to come out of the prostate.
ed. still there no progress uro says pump will help
age 58
cialis caused 3 day headache
surgery done in Denver


John T
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 4223
   Posted 3/11/2010 10:58 AM (GMT -6)   
How do they evaluate you for ED? If you say you have ED how to they check if you really have it?

JohnT

64 years old.

PSA rising for 10 years to 40, free psa 10-15. Had 5 urologists, 12 biopsies and MRIS all neg. Doctors DXed BPH and continue to get biopsies yearly. 13th biopsy positive in 10-08, 2 cores of 25, G6 less than 5%. Scheduled for surgery as recommended by Urological Oncologist.

2nd Opinion from Dr Sholtz, a Prostate Oncologist, said DX wrong, pathology shows indolant cancer, but psa history indicates large cancer or metastasis. Futher tests and Color Doppler confirmed large transition zone tumor that 13 biopsies and MRIS missed. G7, 4+3, approx 16mmX18mm.

Combidex MRI in Holland eliminated lymphnode mets. Casodex and Proscar reduced psa to 0.6 and prostate from 60mm to 32mm. Changed diet, no meat and dairy. All staging tests indicate that tumor is local and non agressive. (PAP, PCA3, MRIS, Color Doppler, Combidex, tumor reaction to diet and Casodex, and tumor location in transition zone). Surgery a poor option because tumor is located next to the urethea and positive margin is very likely; permanent incontenance is also high probability with surgery.

Seed implants on 5-19-09, 3 hours door to door, no pain, minor side affects are frequency and urgency; very controlable with Flowmax and lasted 4 weeks. Daily activities resumed day after implants with no restrictions. Gold markers implanted with seeds to guide IMRT.

25 treatments of IMRT 6 weeks after seed implants. No side affects at all.

PSA at end of treatment 0.02 mostly the result of Casodex. When I stop Casodex next week expect PSA to rise. Next PSA in November. Treatments and side affects have greatly exceeded my expectations. Glad to have this 11 year journey finally conclude.

JohnT


60Michael
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 2222
   Posted 3/11/2010 11:06 AM (GMT -6)   
I think John partially thru your PCP or Uroligist tx notes, which they ask for. But I was given 0% on ED as they considered that to be part of the bigger picture, which is PCa. The IU would likely come from incontinence. Will know for sure when they re-evaluate me.
Michael
Dx with PCA 12/08 2 out of 12 cores positive 4.5 psa
59 yo when diagnosed
Robotic surgery 5/09 Atlanta, Ga
Catheter out after 10 days
Gleason upgraded to 3+5, volume less than 10%
Margin slightly involved
2 pads per day, 1 depends but getting better,
8/5 1 depend at night only, now none
 started ED tx 7/17, slow go
Post op dx of neuropathy
3 months psa.01, 6 month psa.4, 6 1/2 month psa.5
Starting IMRT on 1/18/10
Great family and friends
Michael


justus1292
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 63
   Posted 3/11/2010 4:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Sonny 3; I am a Brother Vet. You might want to recheck a few facts about the VA issuing oral meds. Last time I checked, you could only get Viagra...3 x 100 mg monthly. That was 7 or 8 years ago, then they stopped Viagra because it was suspected in the deaths of several of our Brohters.

Being a Med Retiree I have TriCare insurance from the military who pays for my Viagra through Walmart and I get my bi-mix from the VA. It takes the combo of both to work....generally for 2-3 hours.

Good luck getting your benefit check. It took me over four years.

AD Sep71 to Jul 79 then AGR Jun 1988 to Apr 1995

Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25380
   Posted 3/11/2010 6:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Justus, why 4 years? Due to a back log or technical issue? I started mine last October, so far, no bad news. Glad you finally got yours, and thanks for the med info.

Salute to a fellow vet.

David in SC
Age: 57, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 7/08 12.3, 9/08 14.5, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 - 7/7 Positive, 40-90% Cancer, Gleason 4+3
Open RP: 11/08, Rht nerves saved, 4 days in hospt, on catheters for 63 days, 5th one out 1/09
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos margin
Incontinence:  1 Month     ED:  Non issue at any point post surgery, no problem post SRT
Post Surgery  PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Post SRT PSA: 1/10 .12
Latest: 7/9 met 2 rad. oncl, 7/9 cath #6 - blockage, 8/9 2nd corr surgery, 8/9 cath #7 out 38 days, 9/9 - met 3rd rad. oncl., mapped  9/9, 10/1 - 3rd corr. surgery - SP cath/hard dialation, 10/5 - 11/27 IMRT SRT 39 sess/72 gys ,cath #8 33 days, Cath #9 35 days, 12/7 - Cath #10 43 days, 1/19 - Corr Surgery #4,  Caths #11 and #12  same time, 2/8-Cath #11 out - 21 days, 3/2- Cath #12 out - 41 days, 3/2- Corr Surgery #5, Caths #13 & #14 same time, 3/6 Cath #13 out - 4 days

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