Posted 7/17/2016 11:13 AM (GMT -7)
Just wanted to send a note to you, from a fellow "Healing Well" brother --- I am also a teacher, as you are --- have reached my milestone of teaching 25 years and will soon be heading into year 27 --- I teach elementary school and I enjoy each day ---
I was diagnosed with an advanced case three years ago, just as that school year was beginning --- I wondered how I would balance school teaching with cancer treatments --- in the end, my primary oncologist now saves the "last appointment of the day" for me, so that I can teach school all day and then dash to the clinic very late in the afternoon for lab work and consultations. He is the most compassionate doctor I have ever met --- I give thanks every day for him, and the small miracles he has worked in my case, time and time again.
I am VERY grateful to him as a doctor, as he soon realized that being with my school students each day was VERY important to me --- so, he kindly saves those late appointments for me, knowing that being at school is important to me. Needless to say, I have tremendous loyalty to him for that.
I was diagnosed when I was still in my 40s --- I've pursued continuous ADT hormone shots ever since, plus a series of TAXOTERE chemotherapy treatments, and then added a ZYTIGA prescription to my sequence of treatments. I walked into this with a challenging case, with prostate cancer that had already crept into both of my lungs --- of course, there's been a few setbacks along the way, just as every fellow here has experienced --- but I feel fortunate that I have had some VERY meaningful successes over time. I give thanks for that every day, and I don't take it for granted ...
We both live in the Midwestern section of the United States ... as your post indicates, in this general area, M.D. Anderson in Texas and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, are often the places where people in this locality tend to travel for cases with complexities. There are several members here who are being treated currently at M.D. Anderson and there are also several of us here who consult at Mayo Clinic.
I travel up to Mayo Clinic every few months, and so do a couple of my friends who also share this same diagnosis. I met Dr. Eugene KWON a year ago, and he has now joined my medical team, and he has formed a partnership with my local oncologist and urologist --- they consult together, they share copies of my test results, they share imaging and scan results, and so forth. My next series of tests and scans, including the PET-CHOLINE scan, will be conducted later this month at Mayo Clinic ... followed by another consultation with Dr. KWON.
With your residence in Oklahoma, I think you would be VERY well served at M.D. Anderson, and it might be within driving distance for you, which would be an advantage --- for additional consultations or follow-ups in the coming months. We have fellows here who have been diagnosed recently who are now being well served by the doctors at M.D. Anderson.
In my case, I travel up to Mayo Clinic about every four months, at the present time --- with ongoing monthly consultations with my primary oncologist located here. For the Mayo Clinic visits, I have purposely scheduled them during scheduled school breaks ... summertime, spring break, and so forth, for my own personal convenience. It's a few hours away, but within driving distance ... couple of nights in a hotel, restaurant dinners in the evening after full days of tests, scans, and consultations, and then back home afterwards each time, every few months.
In my case --- I had ALL of my medical documents and scan results sent to Mayo Clinic for an initial "assessment" --- they then called me within a few days and we set up the initial tests, scans, and consultation with Dr. Kwon, whom I requested specifically, which meant a longer waiting period, of course.
You can certainly visit with your doctor and have your current medical file sent to the hospital of your choice --- basically, it sounds like you are seeking additional medical expertise or a "second opinion" as I did, in my particular case --- an extra level of expertise --- a second set of eyes, going over everything with a fine-toothed comb.
A friend of mine hit a complete "brick wall" with his local doctor ... his doctor didn't seem to be proactive, as my friend's PSA continued to skyrocket. My friend then followed in my footsteps ... he felt he needed to seek out the "second opinion" and also went to Mayo Clinic, where he also consulted with Dr. Kwon. A laundry list of immediate treatment steps was laid out last spring and my friend just got a PSA level of undetectable, for the first time ever !
My PSA has crept down to undetectable, over time, and has remained below 0.05 lately --- my latest PSA last week being 0.01, which seems like a miracle to me. I stand here in amazement, witnessing the comraderie and sense of teamwork that exists between Mayo Clinic and my local doctors here. I hope that will be your experience, as well --- no matter where you choose to go as your "next step" ... I see posts here from fellows all over the country, being VERY WELL served by outstanding doctors and medical facilities all over the country ... many of them also drawing in patients from all over the globe, as well.
I, like you, see the next school year "looming large" ahead of me ... as summertime begins to drift away ...I'm over six feet tall and the Midwestern corn fields stand taller than I do at the present time, which tells me that school will be starting one of these days. I'm excited to get started with my next set of school students ... teaching elementary students, "Back To School" in August is a BIG EVENT every year ! Looking forward to it ...
Let us know what your next steps are ... just wanted to reach out to you as a fellow BATTLE BROTHER and ALSO a fellow educator !
Sent with my best, from here in the Midwest,
Iowa State University ~ "CYCLONE FAN" (Patiently Waiting For The Fall College Football Season To Commence !)
PSA At Diagnosis In Year 2013 : 138
Initial Diagnosis: Advanced Prostate Cancer, With Metastases In Both Lungs
Age At Diagnosis: 48 years
ADT Treatments: LUPRON, FIRMAGON, and currently ZOLADEX
Subsequent Treatments: Chemotherapy Treatments (TAXOTERE) & now ZYTIGA
Additional Medical Consultant: Dr. Eugene KWON - Mayo Clinic
Current PSA: Consistently < 0.50, With Treatments Ongoing