As is the case with virtually all other men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, my diagnosis came as a complete surprise. My PSA had been flat-lined at about 4.0 for 15 years, my annual physical check-ups were normal and there were absolutely no symptoms to indicate there was anything going wrong. However, in the one-year period between 2009 and 2010 my PSA spiked from 4.5 to 7.2 and this, together with an abnormal digital rectal examination, led to a biopsy that confirmed that my prostate was cancerous with a Gleason Score of 7. For treatment I selected cryosurgery where the prostate gland is frozen in place.
There were two main reasons for this decision: firstly because I was familiar with the refrigeration process involved in this treatment, and secondly, because my age (75) pretty well eliminated concerns about possible side effects. I never regretted this decision as there was minimal discomfort during the actual operation, the hospital stay was brief and the recovery at home was fast and trouble-free. In fact, I have to be careful, when talking to other men about my experience, not to describe the operation as a “walk in the park”. Follow-up checks have shown that I am currently cancer-free and life goes on as if nothing ever happened.
Following my treatment for prostate cancer I soon learned that the average man knows nothing or very little about the male prostate.
This knowledge did not come as any big surprise since I had been every bit as ignorant about this subject, but it did spur me into trying to do something about this problem. About a year after my surgery I was fortunate to be accepted as a volunteer at the Prostate Cancer Centre. This is a unique, donor-supported facility in Calgary providing speedy access for potential prostate cancer patients to the services of a urologist and biopsy clinics for early diagnosis.
Today I have the pleasure of working in the PCC Resource Centre where the opportunity exists to talk to men (and their spouses) about my own experiences and to attempt to set them at ease about the big “C” word. I also have the pleasure of working with the public at large on both our Urban and Rural ManVans where we travel throughout Calgary and Southern Alberta offering free PSA blood tests and information about prostate health.