I am a Fire Department Captain in Los Angeles County. Every year at or around our birth date, we receive a thorough physical exam. I've been monitoring my PSA since the year 2000. My Dad had PC as did 3 of my uncles (his brothers). I knew in just a matter of time it would come but I didn't think this soon. Genetics and my profession played the major role in my diagnosis.
Anyways, PSA in June 2007 was 3.9. The Doctor who gave me my physical, Dr. Alan Pactman (a true saint) sent me to a urologist, Dr. Nick Tomasic (coincidently, his Father is a retired FD Captain who I had worked for at one time years ago). Biopsy August 9, 2007: NEGATIVE however, out of the 12 samples, 2 looked a little "suspicious." The Urologist said: "you don't have cancer" just as soon as he opened the door.
I came back to his office in four months for a DRE and a blood test. January 2008: "your PSA is at 5.2...come in for another biopsy." One week later my wife and I received the news : "I'm sorry David, but we found some cancer." To say the least I WAS DEVASTATED. I have 2 comrades who just had the surgeries and had gone through all the "hoops" regarding which treatments, Doctors, etc. They both told me to call them asap.
Well, I was on the phone as I left my urologist' office on my way to the car. I hit the ground running. Within two hours I had decided to have the surgery and had appointments with a surgeon at the USC Cancer Norris Center and an appointment with the top Robotic Surgeon at the City of Hope. One doc operated on my buddy Marty and the other on my buddy Dave. I've researched this subject several thousand times and have read numerous testimonials. Conclusion: THE SKILL OF THE SURGEON IS PARAMOUNT.
I see the doc at USC on February 13th, 2008 and the Doctor at the COH on February 20th. Yeah, my Gleason score is relatively low, and THEY say "prostate cancer is slow growing." But THEY ARE NOT ME. Right now, I like the idea of a surgeon being able to touch the gland and surrounding tissue with his hands but I don't like the longer recovery. I like the idea of the Da Vinci method: precise, magnification, going home the next day. At this point in time as I write this, I will put up with the extra pain JUST AS LONG AS THE CANCER IS OUT OF MY BODY (traditional surgery).
Now I wait for the 13th of February.
February 3, 2008: I finally got the balls to tell my 78 year old parents. My Dad had PC and had the traditional method done. I also told my older brother Steve. My younger brother Larry, well, I told him the day I was diagnosed. I didn't walk in my parents house with a long face, depressed etc. I went in and said: "Mom, Dad, in about a month I'm going to have my prostate taken out." They wanted to be sad but I don't think they could have. My Dad I think kept a closer watch on my prostate exams than I did. I could feel the concern on his face everytime we spoke of it. I told him: "Dad, I know its going to happen and I'm ready; i've done my homework. its going to be ok, don't you worry." I felt I did the right thing. I also told everyone who has been a huge influence in my personal and fire department life. I could FEEL the aura over the phone.
February 5, 2008: tomorrow, I take my buddy Dave, age 54, gleason 7 (my Battalion Chief in the Fire Department) to the City of Hope for his "salvage" radiation (I've learned sooo much; now I'm using the lingo!). He was diagnosed in October '07, had the DaVinci method done, finds out a microscopic piece or two got away so now, he's got to go huntin'! I'm telling everyone this because guy is one of my top "go to guys." First, he gets diagnosed with it, has the state of the art surgery, finds out he still has it THEN I get it. I'm saddened, bummed out etc. & here's this guy and his situation, consoling me, reassuring me and telling me: "David, everything is going to be alright."
I looked for Dr. Walsh's latest edition on dealing with OUR disease but could only find his 1997 version. Needless to say, its very informative. Josie (my wife) will be picking up or at least looking for the 2007 version tomorrow while I'm with Dave at the City of Hope. Heck, since I see his Doc on February 20, 2008 I might as well pop my head into his office, say hello, kiss a little butt and see if I could get in sooner! Maybe bring some chocolates! You never know! My game face goes on tomorrow. It could be worse: you could have cancer. Dave :-)
Feb 18, 2008: A tremendous amount of relief is now off of my shoulders. All my pre op is complete. All I have to do now is have surgery. From despair to happiness. Just think: "On February 26th, I'm going to have my cancer removed!" Who wouldn't be happy?
My surgery is being done by Dr. Mark Kawachi at The City of Hope; HE'S A GOD! With a couple of cancellations, everything worked out for me. It'll be exactly 6 weeks since my biopsy. If my wife hadn't been persistent, I would've had to wait until April for the surgery. Just because your doctor's office says "we're booked for another 2-3 months" doesn't mean you give up. Call everyday, email everyday; a cancellation will occur! Then, as a present to myself, my wife and I went out and bought a 52" flat screen LCD TV and then purchased a nice leather recliner "for my recovery."
3 more shifts at the firehouse then on a 2 month hiatus.
Keep the faith. Dave :-)
February 24, 2008: You all might to sit down for this one.
On February 15th, '08, my wife, father-in-law and myself went to The City of Hope for my pre-operative exam; basically to see if I were ready physically for my surgery to be conducted on February 26th, '08 (2 days from this writing). By the end of the day, chest xrays, blood, peeing in the cup, etc. was complete. "See you on Tuesday the 26th" they said. I was ready. The day was approaching and I was ready for my life to change. Everything was in order. All I had to do was wait for the day. That was until the phone rang at 8:30 PM on Monday, February 18th. "David, this is Dr. Kawatchi from The City of Hope. . .our pathologists looked at the biopsy slides you brought in. . .YOU DO NOT HAVE PROSTATE CANCER. . .however, I want you to go see a Doctor by the name of Duke Bahn, He's a radiologist who'll do a color doppler ultrasound. . .if you have prostate cancer, he'll find it. . .but as of right now, you will not be having surgery on February 26th." Question: If 2 pathologists (according to my pathology report, an additional doctor has to concur with the initial doctor's diagnosis)agree that they see cancer, how can the doctors at the City of Hope not find any?
ANOTHER cancellation! Instead of seeing Dr. Bahn on March 19, I received a call to see him on March 11 (today is March 13). Ultrasound/color Doppler. "I'm your tie breaker David" Dr. Bahn tells me. He looks at my recent pathologists' report and tells me: "Gleason 5? We don't use Gleason 5 anymore because that is NOT considered cancer." "Oh" I thinkin'.
Again, I get probed in my rear end (after a 2 hour drive to Ventura). He located a couple of "dark" spots in both black and white and in color. He conveys to me that "it has not left the capsule."
"But is it cancer" I ask (as you probably know, he can't commit without conclusive evidence from a pathologist - but I think he knows based upon his experience).
"50/50" he says.
Anyways, Friday March 15 (payday) or the latest Monday March 18, I'll know. If it is? Well, here I go again. I've been through the shock, the emotional ups and downs not to mention the tremendous amount of pressure I put upon myself. Not this time. I'm tired of it. Bring it on. Everyday is going to be good.
Wish me luck. David.
March 18, 2008. Again, you may want to sit down for this one.
Yesterday, St. Patricks Day, I received the phone call at 1130 hours regarding my color doppler ultrasound: "David, this is Doctor Bahn. Good news David: YOU DO NOT HAVE PROSTATE CANCER."
Ok, I have received the news twice. I saw with my own two eyes as Dr. Bahn pointed out to me the 2 suspicious spots that could be cancerous tumors. I knew it was cancer; I just knew it- BUT IT WASN'T. From Dr. Kawatchi (City of Hope), and from the Doctor that HE wanted me to go to.
"David, I want you to get a PSA test every 3 months and I want to see you again in 6 months" Dr. Bahn said.
So sports fans, no surgery, radiation etc. My plan? Continue and increase my exercise, very little if any animal fat. Consume only food that God put on this earth: out of the ground, off the tree, and has gills. Plenty of Olive oil & Selenium all washed down with pomegranate juice. Oh yeah, some wine too! The most important thing: PRAY.
So, I guess this is my Good Bye to YANA. I will continue to study PC and will be here to mentor if needed.
Your friend, David.
David hasn't given much of an update, but mentioned in passing on a Forum posting:
My last color doppler was negative on October. I'm now scheduled for my 3 month PSA check. The last reading was 4.7 with a negative DRE.
Well my friends, here we go again.
PSA in Feb. 2009: 4.77; PSA a couple of days ago: 7.07, free PSA 3.38%. Doesn't sound good I know. DRE negative. I don't want to sound negative, but "watchful waiting" may be over.
I see Dr. Bahn in Ventura CA on June 11 at 1 pm for the color Doppler ultrasound. Hopefully he can clear me again.
In the meantime, my local Uro has a "gut feeling" that it may be an infection so he put me on CIPRO, an antibiotic. At this point in the game, I don't know what to do but just wait until the 11th.
Thanks Terry for all you've done.
Later: Just had my Color Doppler Ultrasound with Dr. Duke Bahn in Ventura, CA. ASAP is what he called it. "No change." However, the CIPRO appears to be bringing my PSA down.
Back to the grind. "Watchful Waiting" for the future...good.
Slow growing? Oh yes. Its taken about 2 years of WW to finally warrant some type of intervention.
Results from the color doppler ultrasound biopsy on July 13, 2009: 5% core invasion to right mid gland (gleason 6) and a 2% gleason 6 to the left apex.
I gave it my best shot. DaVinci Surgery to be performed by Dr. Mark Kawatchi at The City of Hope.
Dave, age 50 PSA: 7.56 DRE: Negative.
July 31st, 2009 - At the City of Hope in the morning for surgery. Before Dr. Mark Kawatchi turns the corner as I lay in pre-op, he calls my name: "David!" He says to me: "Everything is going to be ok (as he holds my hand with both of his)." Next, the "drug" doc comes in. He assures me even further. Surgical nurse comes in and assures me even more. I'm ready.
I get wheeled into surgery and the next thing you know I'm in recovery. Dr. Kawatchi comes in as I awaken: "David, it went smooth. I didn't see any need to biopsy lymph nodes or any surrounding tissue; the prostate was very smooth. I anticipate a positive pathology report next week. You did great. Get some sleep." Wow, just the report I anticipated.
I spent the night. The greatest care by the nurses. A little morphine every 4 hours. I was up later that night walking, telling jokes, feeling great. I went home the next day. The catheter: Not really a big deal. Day three it all came crashing down: major constipation and very uncomfortable because of. Once it passed later that evening, I was good to go.
August 6th, 2009, post op care, pathology report: "confined to the prostate and not even close to the edges, gleason 7; you're good to go, a great report David!" Catheter removal: Not a big deal. Got dressed (pad in place) made a follow-up appointment. My wife and I went home.
August 8th, 2009: NO LEAKAGE. Not even a drop. No pain, its like nothing ever happened. I owe the world to Dr. Mark Kawatchi at the City of Hope and his skill at the Davinci Robot. I owe a lot to this site and Terry. I am stunned to this day. I am blessed, I'm lucky.
My recent PSA reading was <.01. As a result, I've now "graduated" to the "every 6 month" club. The "Blue Pill" now works for me.
Good evening Brothers. Its been a while since I've updated my story. Probably because nothing has happened. [That's the best kind of update!]
I had DaVinci July 2009. Ever since then, the PSA has been undetectable. I go to The City of "I" Hope in Southern California (a 40 mile drive) at the end of this month for my 6 month blood test.
As usual, my fingers are crossed. A good diet, working out regularly, prayer and a positive attitude.
So sorry for not paying attention to the update. July, 2009 I had the surgery at the City of Hope. Performed by Dr. Mark Kawatchi. At times, the "little blue pill" comes in handy. BUT, my libido is virtually nothing. So, next appointment (June 2013), I'm going to get my testosterone checked. Other than that, everything is good. PSA undetectable, working out. Got a great relationship with my bride of 23 years. Approaching the 4 year point.
Huell Howser? Now I've read Steve Garvey? Wow! Who knows; diet, exercise? Hey, get checked. Check the DVD: forks over knives. The American diet is partly the blame. All the processed foods, soft drinks...
Good luck. Anytime I'm available...just send me an email. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD!
My DaVinci surgery was done July 2009. Six months ago, my PSA was .05. Last week (six months later), June 2013, it has bumped to .08. 2 weeks prior to this, my private Dr. put me on Andro Gel due to a testosterone of 122. So, could this have caused my PSA to "bump?" And, should I immediately STOP using the testosterone supplement Andro Gel? As a result of my PSA going from .05 to .08, prior to knowing it was .08, my protstate Dr. told me to see him in a year. When the results came back (after I left his office), the Dr. changed my one year appointment from a year to January 2014 (6 months as opposed to a year). A little concerned to say the least. Did I piss off the PSA Gods?
Hi All! Yeah, it's been awhile. DaVinci July 2009. Yesterday, my 6 month blood test, PSA slowly creeping up to .14. If it gets to .20: radiation (boo hoo). For 6 years it's been great. From undetectable to .04. Then years later back and forth from .08 to .11. Now like I've said: .14. A limp one for about 18 months. No Viagra needed for a few years and it's been great. But now? A bit worried. Yeah I know: "why worry?"
That's my update. Keep up the fight, Dave. Oh, I retired as a Captain after 32 years from The County of Los Angeles Fire Department, 55 Years old; life is great...
PSA rose to .23 after 7 years since my DaVinci prostatectomy. Awaiting my call to schedule for radiation. I did my best. If there's any advice of those in my situation please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave's e-mail address is: email@example.com