BY JONATHAN BAKER
I sit here trying
to figure out how to write my story of diagnosis with prostate cancer.
Well, here I go. At the age of thirty-nine years, I was sent to the
hospital for respiratory problems and was in the ICU for seven days. In
the process of finding out what was causing my severe coughing, the
doctors decided to have my PSA tested. I
have a family with a
history of cancer. My mother died in 2000 of bone cancer; my sister,
after two bouts of non-Hodgkins, recently was diagnosed with breast
cancer. My Dad had gone through colon, prostate and most recently kidney
cancer. Once I was in the hospital ICU, they checked out everything, so
The PSA did not come back
normal: PSA of 15. Prior to this hospital stay, for months I complained
to my primary doctor of symptoms of frequent urination and sweating for
no reason. Never did he have my PSA checked. After I was released from
the hospital, I had a follow up with a urologist. Again, I had my PSA
tested, this time it shot up to 20. The doctor recommended a biopsy. He
assured me it probably was only a infection. "You're too young," he
said, "to have prostate cancer."
Meanwhile, back to the
primary doctor. I tell him of the latest findings of my PSA. He says to
me, Well, it's only your prostate, if you do have cancer. I drop him as
my primary care physician instantly.
November, I have the
biopsy done. Loud snaps, six samples of tissue taken from my prostate.
The doctor still insists I have an infection. Now for the moment of
truth. It's near the end of November, I am anxious for the results of
the biopsy. I'll always remember this day, the nurse sends me to a room
that is not your normal examining room. She looks at me in a very
strange way. From that look, I knew this wasn't going to be good. The
doctor walks in, he reads the report, stares at me. Thoughts are running
through my head, I must have had a blank look. He says I have cancer.
Suddenly everything around me is totally silent, On my face,
this couldn't be.
The Gleason score comes back at a 4+3. He recommends a Radical
RP, I say to myself, what
the heck is that? I started researching about prostate cancer. I went
for a second opinion, this time to a well- known doctor in Boston.
Nerve-sparing doctor, I was told. Luckily, I get an appointment right
away. He looks at the pathology report, biopsy results were done at his
hospital, he feels comfortable with the report. He also recommends R.P..
Now I'm getting nervous, he tells me that I would be the youngest person
he's operated on for prostate cancer. This doctor has people from around
the world come and see him. I'm scheduled for a New Year's Eve
The doctor said I have a
70% chance of making it clean from this cancer, but he recommends
radiation within two months. The pathology report from the prostate
taken comes back as a T2BN0. the Gleason stays at a 7.
After two blood clots, two
visits to the emergency room, I start my radiation treatments.
Everything seems to be going fine until the last few weeks of radiation.
After two months' worth of treatments, the day after I finished -- back
into the emergency room. I cannot urinate at all, nothing coming out,
I'm in great pain. The ER doctor tries using one of those metal rods to
push the catheter up into me. Oh! I felt like grabbing him by the neck
and shaking him. They schedule me for a dilation in the OR later that
night. 800 ml of fluid came out, what a relief.
Ten months after my RP,
still wearing pads. Incontinence has been a big problem with me. At
forty years old now, I never thought I'd be going through this. At the
ten month mark, the doctor who did the surgery recommended a bladder
neck incision. So off to the OR again. After this procedure, I had pain
every time I urinated. They put me on antibiotics, nothing seemed to
help. January 2003, back in the OR for a dilation again. I switch back
to my local doctor because I'm getting nowhere with the "expert" doctor
in town. Within three more months, the pain whenever I urinate goes
Now the other problem. I
haven't had an erection in all this time, since the surgery. I'm growing
impatient. Now to the ED specialists. They recommend injections. Seems
as though the nerves weren't spared and/or the radiation did damage.
I've tried a few shots with their special formula, sometimes it works,
sometimes it doesn't. I kinda lost interest in sex at this point. Didn't
think I would be in this state at forty-one. I'm trying to keep a
positive outlook on everything. I have a beautiful three year old old
son, and a very patient wife. But it could be worse. If I hadn't gotten
ill for the other reason, my life may have been cut a lot shorter.
A simple blood test can
save a few good men.
I have dreams this was all
a mistake, I had no cancer, biopsy was read wrong. I guess I'm in a
denial state. I find it tough to talk to my friend about this. As a man,
it's really hard to talk to peers about cancer and how it affects a
person. © Jonathan Baker 2003 All Rights reserved.