I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer on October 13, 2009 after three biopsies (due to increasing PSA levels) in the last 18 months.
My most recent PSA was 9.4, my Gleason score 6.0. My Staging T1c. I am 57 years old and in generally good health. I am scheduled to receive seed implants on January 7th, 4 days from now. After much research I made this choice over Watchful waiting and HIFU in part due to family pressure and also due to during the last 18 months my PSA rose from 4 to 6 and now 9. HIFU is not currently a procedure approved in the USA and I don't have the financial resources for it, but it would have been my treatment of choice; nor did I want to go for clinical trials of HIFU in the USA.
I am certainly not looking forward to the Bracy treatment as I have a wonderful sex life and feel great. I work out, have a good job, a wonderful and supportive wife and feel this whole process may turn my world upside down and change the way I enjoy life forever. It definitely keeps me up at night.
I was fortunate to recently find the YANA website, a bit late into the process but still it has provided me with invaluable information that has put me more at ease prior to my procedure. Thank you Terry Herbert and the YANA members for sharing their experiences.
I will certainly update my form as time goes by. Stand by.
Later - January 5, 2010: OK - can't sleep - it's 2:00am and I'm less than 48 hours from the Brachytherapy treatment. I almost feel like the first time I got married - Had to do the right thing for all the wrong reasons - yeah, that turned out in a very unhappy divorce. On the other hand, it was not a life and death situation. My mind's all over the place, since signing up for the treatment in December (scheduled this Thursday, Jan. 7), I've been introduced to several alternative treatments from Proton beam radiation to breast milk, the good intentioned writers swear by their effective-ness as an alternative to brachytherapy in that the side effects are minimal or none.
So what to do, if I cancel now I'm faced with panicky relatives (including my wonder-fully supportive and loving wife) who feel watchful waiting or any waiting at all is not an option and.....getting billed over $6,000 for ordering seeds were ordered and not used. On the other hand, getting this thing done and over with will also relieve some pressure in that I will be able to put it behind me (no pun intended) and move forward with my life and accepting the side effects in exchange for living hopefully without cancer.
I thank all those who have written me whom have had the brachy treatment. These comments also range from very positive to miserable. I will stay upbeat and pray for the best. Thank you YANA for letting me put my thoughts down to share with my support team.
I shall move forward and onward to the guillotine.
Stand by.... Dave.
January 8th, 2010 Well the deed is done and I am writing one day after BT (Brachytherapy) procedure.
Yesterday, as if the tension in anticipation of the procedure was not enough, there was a severe snowstorm in Chicago causing us to arrive 40 minutes late. My concern was that my doctor would rush me through the procedure and consequently slam a seed in my Kidney or worse. Fortunately the pre-op team was also waiting on the anesthesiologist and there were only two appointments that morning. I made sure to ask the operating Oncologist if he had a good morning and was under no pressure. After a good laugh, he as well as all personnel at CPCC (Chicago Prostate Cancer Center) was very reassuring and I must say quite professional.
The procedure was successful. I had 91 seeds implanted with the following notes:
Source type: Pd-103 Activity: 1.86 Total Activity of Seeds implanted: 169.26
The Meds prescribed include: Cipro 500 (Antibiotic), Medro 4mg (Anti-Inflamatory), Flomax 0.4 (Improve Urination), and Tylenol for pain as needed.
It is my understanding that the seeds will be producing the most radiation during the first 12 days, after which they will have lost 50% of the radiation, and another 25% during the next 12 days. After 3 months, seeds will be for the most part inactive.
During my research for treatment options, I craved for specific BT pre-op and post-op details. If not for YANA, I would not have had much of this information, so I wanted to give as much detail as I can in consideration of those looking at BT treatment as a possible choice. As time goes on, I will gladly provide more details on my YANA entry or via email one-to-one if requested.
The staff and doctors at the Chicago Prostate Cancer Center were great. The pre-op included verifying insurance, signing the usual disclosures and disclaimers, post-op briefing on what to expect, having me disrobe and wear an attractive rear-exposed hospital gown (relinquish all dignity ye who enter here), insert the IV and mercifully delay the dreaded catheter until after I was out. When I woke, I was surprised to experience some discomfort but not that much pain. I was able to urinate with some mild burning sensation and there was blood in the urine as expected. Afterwards I was wheeled over to my lovely wife who provided me with much needed TLC and helped me eat snacks and get dressed. We were given post-op instructions, signed the acknowledgement and we were ready for a well deserved lunch. The BT procedure lasted about 40 minutes and another 40 minutes in recovery; the entire process took about 4 hours. The CPCC called our local pharmacy to order the prescriptions which we picked up on the way home.
Last night was a bit rough. I had heartburn and did not sleep well and got up to use the restroom at least every hour. It may have been because of the meds, as well as the anesthetized time combined with an 11/2 hour nap I took when I got home yesterday. I also choose to wear a radiation guard (looks like an adult diaper but much more expensive) to protect a little one we have at home. I'm feeling a bit more discomfort today in the area where the incision was made so I've taken Tylenol for the pain. No bowel movement yet but overall I'm good. Relaxing, eating, watching TV, and just take it easy.
I hope this is helpful to those looking at BT as a treatment option. I will keep you updated on my progress in the coming weeks/months.
Later: January 11th, 2010. Four days after my procedure and here is my update.
Overall I am doing OK. There is some expected soreness in the treated area and I am still experiencing some blood in the urine as well as the need to urinate every couple of hours. The worst problem I've had has been to sleep. The first two nights were terrible. I experienced heartburn that felt like fire in my stomach and an anvil on my chest. After 4 Tums and 3 spoons of Ice Cream (with no lasting effects), I settled in bed with a can of Keebler Export soda crackers. After a dozen crackers I was able to sleep some. This was the first night. I found the best way to sleep was in a sitting position. This worked the second night until about 3am where I had slid back down and woke with the same heartburn. Last night was my third night and I slept 100% better. It seems that I must have only a light snack at night before bed instead of a full dinner. It may be due to the meds I'm taking or maybe the diet but I will talk to the doctor today (Monday) as these days unless you are dying, it's difficult to reach your doctor on the weekend.
As far as the sexual side, there has been no one home. No erections, movements, no one home. I fully expect this to change as I continue my recovery so stand by for more.... I am able to walk, talk, move, entertain guest, drive a car, eat, drink, and do everything I could (at a lesser and lighter pace) than before treatment. Tomorrow I am looking forward to returning to work and get back to being a productive member of society.
The most important thing I've learned from this entire experience so far is that family support is priceless. I also found that the mentor resource at YANA Now, while late in the game, provided excellent information which helped me better prepare for what to expect before, during and after treatment.
Anyone who wishes to email me with any additional questions may do so. Will provide more updates as time moves along...
Later: First the good news...there is someone home! There seems to be hope in that I am beginning to feel sensation and the return to normal sex may be around the corner.
But here's the bad news...It's been about 10 days since my treatment and all was going well until today. I am getting sudden pains around the penis area followed by an urgency to urinate. The urine flow is infrequent and weak. After urinating a steady pain remains which subsides after a few minutes. I have also experienced some bouts of incontinence, however very minor. Last night and today I have been going at least every 1/2 hour to an hour. This is disappointing in that I was feeling better and better since the treatment until today.
I will call the doctor tomorrow and see what he suggests.
Later: Here's the latest update as of January 23, 2010.
The pain described in my last write-up did worsen. On Monday the 18th of January, precisely 11 days since the procedure, I could not sleep. Sharp pains in the perineum and penis area with a strong desire to urinate every hour, but wait, I get up to urinate and no urine!! So I wait, grimacing in desperate anticipation and barely able to hold myself up against the bathroom wall when a drop appears, then another. But then the urine stops and the pain returns, sharp razors cutting through the inside of my bladder, scrotum and penis. A vice-like grip of hot steel blazing between my legs which made the previous experience of the catheter and volume study, seem like a walk through the park. This on and off pain followed by merciful urine drops and dribbles continued for 10-15 minutes during a cold Chicago night where I set the home thermostat at 65 degrees, and I'm literally sweating bullets in the bathroom.
This event repeated itself for two consecutive nights, getting up at least every hour to endure the torture, but mercifully the pain and delay was somewhat less during the day. On Tuesday the 12th, I tried going to work only to leave early and head directly to the Urologist office where he recommended hot baths and patience. I even reached out to my Yananow mentors for feedback for which I am truly grateful but the feedback was quite disconcerting. I was basically told to learn how to self catheterize and that I would feel better in six months….What!!??!! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I need a time capsule! This was not what I signed up for when I chose Brachy.
Missing work the next two days exhausted from my nighttime (and daytime) battles to urinate, in desperation I called the Chicago Prostate Cancer Center on Wednesday the 13th, and I was told to take Aleve twice a day to reduce the swelling of the prostate. This seemed to help, but I returned to my Urologist on Friday morning where I was given another prescription of Medrol. Family members suggested I buy ginger roots and make a tea which I also did and am still drinking twice a day. All the combinations seemed to help as I slept better on Friday the 15th waking 3 times and only experiencing my on and off episodes of pain to a lesser degree. I have isolated instances of mild incontinence.
My libido left the house, so again no one home and I don't blame him. My priority is no longer getting back to intimacy, just getting well. My God-sent wife continues to be patiently and wonderfully supportive and the family praying and concerned. In any case, right now while enduring this discomfort, I kind of regret not waiting a while before doing anything about the big C. I am confident that as time goes on I will be glad I did go through with it and all will be forgiven, and life will be good. In the meantime, I still take 5-10 minutes to painfully and slowly urinate, and will continue taking the meds, hot baths and tea.
Stand by for more updates.
It has now been six weeks since my Brachy treatment and I am glad to report most of the pain described in my last posting has subsided. What remains is a minor discomfort in urination where the stream is very weak and interrupted 3 to 4 times. The discomfort/pain is felt with each 2-5 second interruption, but nothing like before. I would say I'm back to about 75% to how I felt before the procedure.
I visited my Oncologist on Feb. 19 and received good news in that I no longer needed to wear the dreaded radiation guard to protect the little ones at home. I am scheduled for a blood draw in May where I hope to have good news regarding my PSA level.
Separately I am happy to report that my libido seems to be returning to some degree and if I can 'keep it up' I can resume some of my favorite pastimes!!
Stand by for the May update.
It's been about eight months since my treatment. I have gone back to my urologist twice for PSA results. In May it was 5.5 and August 5.7.
I am a bit disappointed it has not gone lower but at the same time happy to say that I have regained about 85% of my physical energies that I had prior to treatment. I still have urgencies to urinate, occasional difficulties to urinate, and my sexual drive is not all that it used to be (yet), but overall I have resumed all my normal activities as before the treatment.
I have not drastically changed my diet but continue taking vitamin supplements as before the treatment. As far as meds I take one Flomax every other day. Thank God for a loving a supportive wife and family.
I will post an update after my PSA results in December.
Well my December 2011 PSA results are in and the magic number is 4.1. My PSA result history has been as follows:
Brachy Treatment Oct.2009 - 9.5
After Aug 2010 - 5.44
Dec 2010 - 5.1
Mar 2011 - 3.5
Aug 2011 - 4.1
Dec 2011 - 4.1
While I wish my PSA scores were lower, overall I'm feeling great. My energy level is up, I work out, my sex life is back to about 90% of where is used to be. I'm taking Tamsulosin (generic form of Flomax) once a day to keep the urine flowing, but hope to steadily decrease the dosage or replace it with a natural supplement I've also been taking a natural product called ProArgi9+ that has helped improve my cardiovascular health and labido - it's good stuff.
I work in a major bank and meet new people every day. Since I work out to stay fit, have a great energy level, people could never tell that you have cancer. It's a great feeling to be among the normal (non-cancer patients) and look ten times better than people in your own age group. I keep my condition a secret and like it this way. Only close family members and friends need to know.
Looking back on my treatment choices I'd wish I had none. In other words I wish I would have waited just another 6 months or so in order to educate myself about alternatives to conventional PCA treatments. The apparent aggressive nature of my cancer (according to the doctors) and family concerns contributed greatly to my choice for Brachy treatment. If I had to choose a treatment, I'm glad I choose brachy. But if I had a chance to do it again, I would choose Watchful Waiting and give vitamins and supplements a chance to work first. Books like "Outsmart your Cancer" and others have shed a new light on alternative I may have considered.
Whatever the future brings, I am reluctant to receive any more radiation or drugs to treat my condition. I am grateful for the recovery I've had and will retain as much of a natural state as I can, for as long as I can. In any case life is good and I am grateful for a loving, supportive wife, family and close friends.
Thanks Terry and Yananow support group for letting me share my story. I will keep posting more updates in the future.
I recently received an email from someone who read my story. The person whom we shall name Rodney, will be receiving brachy treatment on Aug 24, 2012, and was quite frightened about the side effects as a result of this treatment, and of course, wanted my feedback. So for those of you who may have a similar question from someone who is about 2 1/2 years out from brachytherapy, here is my reply to Rodney to share with you:
"....So - what I can tell you is that you will have to get used to a new 'Normal'. At first you will have more intense side effects and depending on your health and living habits, you should be able to recuperate up to 90% of who you are now. The two things I miss most as far as sexual goes, is that I've lost and will never regain 95% of my ejaculate. Second is at times (it's getting much better), I cannot sustain an erection and may need a little blue friend to help. You may experience more frequent urges to urinate like ....I mean ....right away! Finally you may need to depend on Floxmax or the generic equivalent at times so that it will not take forever to pee. Other than this, life is good. The love of a supportive and understanding family and partner is invaluable to me. I am grateful for the life I have but will always miss the person I was. Write or call me anytime."
My current PSA is 2.5 down from 9.5 when initially treated. In hindsight, I may have chosen Proton Beam, or natural supplements combined with watchful waiting. But it is what it is and I am happily living one day at a time in all it's glory. I turn 60 this year and life is good!
It's been some time since I last wrote but all is good so far. My lastest PSA reading was 1.5 in August, which was my lowest reading to date since my procedure in January 2010. I have increased energy and have been able to resume all of my activities prior to my treatment. 3 years out from treatment I'd say the biggest side effects are some loss of sex drive (could be due to age-61) but still 80% of what it used to be. I miss the volume of ejaculate but have accepted this as my new reality. Urgency to urinate is also ever present, especially if I am about to do the dishes at home. I take an L-Arginine suppliment for my cardiovascular health which has made a big difference in my energy levels even prior to the treatment and I feel has helped in the sex department too. As far as any post-treatment prescription medications I occasionally will take tamsulosin (flomax generic) should I feel the need to. Right now I may take it once of twice a month. One small side note, I enjoy working out but have recently felt what seems to be a muscle strain in the lower left hand side of my back. My general doctor checked my out last week and agrees its does not seem to be anything but a strain, nonetheless I will be going for an MRI next week as a precautionary measure. More frequent updates to follow.
Well it's been some time since I posted but here is my latest. On Jan 7, of this year I complete 5 years from my procedure. Here are my readings for the last 10 visits to my urologist: March 2011 (3.5), Aug 2011 (4.1), Dec 2011 (4.1), May 2012 (3.3), Sept 2012 (4.3), July 2013 (1.14), Nov 2013 (0.6), March 2014 (0.39).
There was a big drop in my PSA from Sept 2012 to July 2013 and again last March. We are very blessed and pleased. I attribute it mostly to clean living, moderate drinking, no tobacco, less processed foods, and plenty of Core Greens, Arginine supplements and vitamins. I'll be glad to share the list of supplements with anyone that is interested, just email me directly.
I am feeling great. Continue to enjoy the support of my wonderful wife, family and friends. Most days I don't even remember I have this condition. I work out, go about my usual activities. Just retired in October 2014 so I enjoy life not in time, but in moments. Thank you Yana for allowing me to post my story that I hope helps others know that we can live quality lives beyond our diagnosis.
Great to share that I visited my Urologist to get my PSA results last week PSA = 0.07
This is great news for me and my family. My sex life is good and my energy levels are strong. I sometimes have sudden urges to urinate during the day and maybe once at night. No pains or problems urinating, however, the stream is not as strong as it used to be, which means it takes longer to finish, but I can live with that.
While I am grateful to be practically cancer free, what I have learned since the procedure has been enlightening. As a business banker in 2012 I opened an account for someone representing an arginine based supplement. I concluded that it was similar to other MLM or direct sales companies for which I have opened hundreds of accounts. At the risk of sounding like a salesperson I will say that since learning about and taking high end arginine based supplements combined with anti-oxidant & a chlorophyll based product, I feel I have not only improved my immune system to fight cancer, but have been also able to stop taking asthma and heart meds altogether. I encourage those reading this information to find out for themselves about these kinds of supplements as part of your research and maybe take a chance at further improving the quality of your life without surgery.
When I first started writing on this forum, back in January 2010, I mentioned that I felt that "I was doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons" (in going through the Brachy procedure), and I still believe this was so. Had I known then what I know now, I would have beaten back the negativity and given myself at least another 6 months to reverse cancer naturally rather than going what I went through. Keep the faith!
David's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org