I have been reading posts in this forum for several weeks now. This is my first post. I want to thank all those at HealingWell.com for providing this wonderful service for those in need of someone to talk to. I belong to an elite group of PC victims classified as "high risk." From reading this forum I know that I am not alone.
My journey started back in March 2005 when a routine physical turned up a PSA of 4.0. My GP was not too worried since it was still in the normal range. I did not know until later that I was at the very top of the normal range. I had been fighting prostate infections off and on for over 10 years and assumed that this was just another prostate inflammation. I was put 6 weeks of antibiotics with no further PSA testing.
It was 2 years before my next physical. I could give a million reasons why I missed my yearly physical. After all, I was as healthy as a horse, had not missed a day of work in 5 years due to sickness and I kept myself in good shape with lots of exercise and eating right. But, the bottom line was that it was a stupid thing to do at my age. For the men reading this, you are never, never too busy to have your PSA checked yearly. For you ladies, drag your men, screaming and yelling if necessary to make sure they are tested. You may save their life. My belated PSA test returned 11.7.
I was referred to an urologist who initially treated me for an infection with antibiotics. My PSA was retested, but it fell only .4 to 11.3. It was obvious at that point that I had bought myself a biopsy. My urologist performed a relatively painless 12 core biopsy. A week later my wife and I were given the results. We never expected him to use the "C" word. How could it possible be true? After all, we had just returned from a week of high altitude hiking in the Colorado Rockies. How could I possibly have cancer after taking such good care of myself?
Pure terror followed in the weeks after the biopsy results. Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep and couldn't stay focused. The fear eventually abated as acceptance of my own mortality set in. It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get to work finding a treatment. My urologist suggested surgery and referred me to a urology center in Sarasota, FL where robotic prostectomys were performed on a daily basis. After consulting with the surgeon, I left his office feeling that there has to be a better way. If not a better way, then something a little easier on my plumbing. Several more weeks of research led me to proton therapy.
I was fascinated by the success of the proton treatments performed at Loma Linda and the almost complete lack of side effects. More research revealed that several (4) new proton therapy centers had opened in the U.S. and one of the newest was 5 hours away in Jacksonville, FL. My wife and I both decided that this was the treatment we wanted to pursue and God willing, I would be accepted as a candidate. I had a consultation at the Florida Proton Institute on 8/20/07 and at which time they gave me a physical and a CT scan. I received notification yesterday that I was indeed a candidate.
My next step will be 3 days of testing the week of 9/10/07 and then the start of treatment somewhere around the first week in October. Nothing seems to happen fast in the PC world and the waiting can be overpowering. My wife and I feel that God led us in our decision to go with the proton therapy even though my urologist and surgeon were appalled that I would not be going under the knife. To say that they had even a basic understanding of proton therapy would be giving too much credit.
Now on to my question. During my proton therapy consultation, the oncologist told me that because I was a "high risk" patient, she recommended chemotherapy during the proton treatments followed by 6 months of hormone therapy. From my research, this appears to be the standard treatment protocol for high risk PC. Has anyone been through short term hormone therapy and what can I expect in the way of side effects? It appears that the more serious side effects come after a year of treatment. Also, once treatment ended, how long did it take before you felt things were back to normal? I know everyone is different, but I would like a general idea of what to expect from those that have been through it.
Thanks again to those that support this site and the comfort, hope and support you provide.