|Me on the beach last summer (in my Spo Shirt) , I'll be back this year|
As regular readers of this blog know, for the past several months I have been going through my own Prostate Cancer Drama.
This past summer the results of a routine blood test at the VA showed that my PSA score was very high. It was 8.4. The range should be 0-4 so I was quite a bit above average.
My doctor notified me immediately and suggested that I either make an appointment with a urologist at the VA (which would be in Wilmington, DE - 89 miles away) or a local urologist. I elected to go with a local urologist in case I decided to undergo treatment for prostate cancer.
I made an appointment and saw a local urologist. The first thing he told me was:
"Mr. Tipton, I want you to understand that a man your age (I am 70), that if you do have prostate cancer the odds are that you will probably die from some other cause."
Of course my first reaction to the phrase "A man your age..." was to turn around and look over my shoulder to see what OLD MAN he was talking to. Then I realized he was talking to me!
Then he said "Do you wish to go forward?"
I thought about it for a minute or two then I said I did. He proceeded to give me a digital rectal exam. Whenever I have one of these exams I think we should at least have ONE DATE prior to the "exam" but we didn't have time for that.
After what seemed like a LONG TIME "up there", he pulled out his latex covered forefinger and announced "Your prostate is smooth and soft. If it was hard (and he indicated this by tapping his knuckle) or I felt something on it, then we have some concern"
Great! So I was prostate cancer free? Not so quick the good doctor seemed to say by his facial reaction. He told me my "Free PSA Count" (whatever that is) was high.
He again asked me if I wanted to continue? Again, after thinking about it for a few seconds, I said "Yes."
I arranged an appointment for a biopsy of my prostate gland. This is a procedure where the doctor takes out twelve pieced of my walnut sized prostate gland to check and see if they are cancerous.
After I left his office I started to ask around friends and relatives who have had this kind of experience with their prostate gland. As expected I got many different stories, each situation is unique. I checked the Internet (which doctors hate for you to check) and I read the stories that perhaps the PSA score and the treatments that follow treating potential prostate cancer haven't made a significant difference in preventing prostate cancer deaths. My mind had a lot of information to sift through before I made my final decision.
About a week before my scheduled prostate biopsy in December (19th) I cancelled the appointment. Then a week later, after reading more information I rescheduled another appointment for a prostate biopsy. This one was to take place January 6th, 2012. All during this time my mind was still unsettled if I was doing the right thing. I just wasn't feeling right about taking this step. Something was holding me back.
I cancelled my January 6th appointment for prostate biopsy. I think this had as much to do with the fact that my cousin Steve Tipton was scheduled to have his prostate glad removed only to discover that when he went to a different surgeon that he didn't have prostate cancer but instead had a prostate infection called prostatitis! He went back to his original doctor, who of course was angry that he went to another doctor, and after rechecking the MRI's, confirmed that my cousin Steve did not indeed have prostate cancer. And here Steve was going to have his prostate removed!
The second incident that caused me to rethink my prostate biopsy (which is a very invasive procedure) was a meeting I had at a Christmas dinner at a friend's house in Pennsylvania. This man was the new boyfriend of Ruth, who was a longtime friend of mine. She knew of my Prostate Drama and she told me that her friend had had his prostate removed. She also told me that he is now wearing Depends...for the rest of his life!
So here is the deal folks. Besides the risk of getting an infection from the biopsy procedure (and I do have a history of getting infections from hospital procedures, one of which almost resulted in my death at 17 years of age), the possible side effects of prostate cancer treatment are:
- urinary problems (can't control your peeing thus Depends)
- bowel problems
So here is the deal folks, I may or may not have prostate cancer. If I do then it is one of the slowest growing cancers and I will probably die of something else. If I don't, I'll still die of something else. One thing is for sure though, I'm not going to undergo any procedure that will result in me spending the rest of my life dealing with the side effects of the procedure.
I'll be around for a few more blog posts. I'm not ready to go quietly into the night just yet.
Video below is me showing my brother how my iPhone works. I'll be doing a lot more of Big Brother Showing Little Brother How Things Work in the future.