The One Most Alarming Fact I Discovered During My Journey With Prostate Cancer
I have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Of course I immediately sought out other writer's takes on it and experiences with it. In all of that there was one most alarming fact that I discovered in my research. You'll probably be alarmed as well, if not angered.
The news of my cancer came after a few of years of creeping-up Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) numbers. I had put off the referral to the local Urologist from our General Practitioner (GP) for approximately 2 years.
My PSA numbers had crept up from 6.3 to 7.0 in three years. At 66 years old that didn't alarm me at all however, our GP continuously refers to me as a 'young' 66. And added that I should be concerned enough to do the follow up.
Our GP has always been known to favor the latest in medications – we joke that if she prescribes it for us we will see it within two weeks in blasted commercials. We tend to scrutinize our directions through that filter.
Before I am viewed as throwing poo-poo on medical knowledge and practitioners let me say that we have regular physicals and all follow-ups as needed. We regularly have full panel blood tests performed and value the opinion of our GP and other doctors and staff.
We agreed to a follow up with the Urologist and surrendered to his assistance in the matter. My first meeting was with the Urologist's Physician Assistant (PA).
After an examination and noting that I had no other symptoms or problems of any kind with my prostate, we discussed options for my course of action.
I'm starting to see this in a different light.
The PA began reading statistical analysis and findings of males my age and with similar examination findings. In other words, he was reading Actuarial Tables to me. Don't do that!
I want to hear from a doctor that can look me in the eyes and tell me what they have seen and treated over time. I want facts. Not what an insurance company feels they should pay for.
Fully understanding the low PSA numbers and the examination results we opted to do nothing different for at least six months. We would follow-up with the PA at that time.
Another six month follow-up and I learned my PSA had risen above 7 to 7.1. Same statistical discussion from the PA, this time with a little more arm twisting to immediately have a biopsy, or as a preemptive tell-tale, at least an MRI.
This would give an indication if a biopsy would absolutely be needed. I agreed to an MRI.
Let's start gathering all information.
I underwent the MRI on Monday, two weeks later. On Thursday the PA called back with numbers that indicated the absolute need for a biopsy with the urologist. I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.
We are blessed with an exceptional Urologist, and absolute 'brainiac'. He is extremely well regarded in the medical community and I trust his judgment. The biopsy was performed and the samples sent away.
The results confirmed what was present in the MRI findings. A mass on my prostate on one side, a finding of 3 on one half and a finding of 5 on the other.
A bone scan was ordered to determine if the cancer had spread. It was time for me to mentally get in front of this thing.
Ok, you have my attention.
I started asking friends that I knew that had experienced this cancer, and others my age if they had experienced this cancer and what they did about it. Overwhelmingly the course of action had been radioactive seed implants.
Their symptoms had all been different than mine with some degree of complications being the key impetus to have the prostate looked at. I had none of their symptoms. But agreed that the radioactive seed implants would be my choice of treatment.
Feeling even more unique in the need for treatment options I began deeply researching the subject. I went to a platform that I write for to learn what other writers and creatives had expressed about prostate cancer as a whole. Depending on the spelling (correct and incorrect) I found a plethora of information, or a smattering.
Are you kidding me?
And with that smattering I found this alarming article. It put it all in perspective for me.
The article was entitled “Prostate Cancer Diagnostics Market 2021-2029: Industry Trends.” The point of the article was to show the profits to be made with the emerging diagnostics market between 2021 and 2029. It added that just as in the diabetic market that we underwent recently, there are profits to be made in testing, diagnostics, treatment, and equipment.
I was taken aback when I read it. Let's not treat cancer because it is deadly in many cases. Let's explore the profitability of the burgeoning marketplace so we can all jump on the bandwagon and get rich. Let's use cancer to our advantage!
Following protocol I was referred by the Urologist to a radiation doc for a consult. Being loaded with more knowledge and seeing my condition through a clearer lens, I agreed to Active Surveillance.
My PSA numbers would be monitored closely, and a more elaborate biopsy would take place in about six months. But for now well, the numbers wouldn't pass the insurance companies scrutiny.
I could have the seed implants done right away if I really wanted to but the docs feel that wouldn't be necessary. Neither do I.
Hablemos de hombre a hombre.
There's a few other tell-tales that I have taken into consideration. Our highly regarded Urologist mentioned just before he exited the office, that I would not die from this and it probably wouldn't shorten my life even one day.
The Radiologist had even more enlightening information. Because of the advancement in detection and labeling, the labels for folks with a Gleason finding of 6 (such as me), are being viewed as necessary to change the label to non-cancer, or pre-cancer.
The monetary pendulum is swinging. A close friend with the same condition related that his doc commented that if every man lived long enough, they would eventually all have prostrate cancer.
I'm pretty certain the medical profession and the insurance industry will make sure of that.