Two days before my wife and I were to move from Victoria, BC to Calgary, I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. I was 55 and had been having no indication at all that there was a problem. My family doctor had been sending me for PSA tests every two years, starting in my mid 40’s. Noticing consecutive increases in the last few tests, he referred me to an urologist who performed a biopsy which confirmed the presence of cancer in my prostate.
Fortunately, I was able to get a referral to an urologist in Calgary, who I saw soon after our arrival here. After discussing my various treatment options with him (he was a surgeon), I wanted to look at other alternatives, so he referred me to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The Radiation Oncologist at the TBCC told me that, given my age, PSA level, Gleason Score and stage of cancer, I was a good candidate for Brachytherapy (insertion of radioactive seeds into the prostate gland). Soon after, my wife and I attended a presentation at the Foothills Hospital during which a number of urologists and radiation specialists talked about treatment options. This helped to confirm that, for me, Brachtherapy was the best option.
Within 3 months (November 2005) I had my brachy treatment. Everything went well and within 2 weeks I was back to normal quality of life with no serious side effects. For the next several years, I had my PSA tested regularly and met with the Radiation Oncologist at least annually. For most of this time my PSA levels were less than 1.0. Then, in 2010 my PSA doubled (still less than 1.0). When it doubled again in early 2011, the oncologist sent me for a series of tests including a further PSA and a biopsy. The last PSA doubled again and the biopsy showed a return of cancer in my prostate with a higher Gleason score than the original.
The options for patients who have had Brachytherapy are limited and after extensive consultation with the Oncologist, I elected to undergo a second brachy treatment. The incidence of recurrence of cancer in Brachytherapy patients is quite low and I was the first patient at the Tom Baker to have a repeat treatment. Again, the treatment (in November 2011) went well and I have returned to a good quality of life. My PSA results have since been as statistically close to zero as one can get.
My first contact with the Prostate Cancer Centre was in 2005 when it was at its old location off Glenmore Trail. I visited the Resource Centre there and spoke with a volunteer. I later participated in a Wellness Program sponsored by the PCC. My next experience with the PCC was when I had my biopsy in 2011. Biopsies are never fun but the kindness and empathy of all the staff I encountered through the process left me feeling appreciative about the experience. Again, the Resource Centre proved invaluable as I sought to educate myself about my options for treating a recurrence of cancer.
All of these positive experiences with the Prostate Cancer Centre instilled in me a desire to give back and to, perhaps, help other men by sharing my experience with them and raise their awareness about Prostate Cancer.
I now volunteer as a spare in the Resource Centre and as well, work as a volunteer Host with the ManVan. I particularly love this role and all the positive encounters that I have had while volunteering at ManVan events. The part I play may be small, but it’s a lot of fun, it’s rewarding and all the staff at the Prostate Cancer Centre go out of their way to make the volunteers feel valued.