Patient Testimonial: From Shock to Awe

My name is Bill and this is my story on how I went from shock to awe.

In late October 2018, at the age of 72, I went for my annual physical exam. The week before, I had gotten my blood work and my PSA test done. I had known for years that I had an enlarged prostate and that I was up a few times every night. However, I had been tracking my prostate scores for two years and my PSA levels were always low. 

At my physical exam, the first thing my family doctor told me was that my PSA levels were elevated. He suggested I be referred for possible prostate cancer. An ultrasound and a referral to Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre (PCC) were set up. I had my consultation in less than two weeks.  

After my Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), I was told my prostate was large but there was no indication of cancer as another condition could have the same symptoms. I was given the option to have a biopsy. Ten days later, I underwent the biopsy procedure which was made easier thanks to the radiologist and assistant. My results would be available in two weeks. 

Being the analytical type, I did my research. The Resource Centre at PCC was very helpful. I was prepared with questions for the urologist. My results all indicated a tumor that put me at intermediate risk.  I was informed about the various treatment options available and chose to proceed with open radical prostatectomy.  

To start, my wife and I attended an information session at PCC which provided me with knowledge and comfort. Other tests and bloodwork were scheduled as I waited for my surgery date.  

A few weeks later, I was in the Operating Room. The next thing I know, I heard my name as I drifted back into consciousness. It was over. The Urologist reported a successful surgery and I joined my family in the hospital room. Within three hours of being in the room, I was asked if I wanted to go for a walk. With help, I made it into the hall before heading back to bed, all with the catheter and bag in tow.

In the morning there was a parade of staff checking on me. I was told there were three criteria to meet before discharge. 1. Pass gas. 2. Eat regular food. 3. Learn how to manage your urostomy bag. By noon, I had passed all three and walked out of the hospital less than 24 hours from the start of my surgery with a prescription for pain and two scheduled appointments at PCC.

Within a week, my incision staples were removed and my catheter came out. The talented PCC nurse performed both procedures and was available by phone to relieve a concern I had. One week later, my family doctor showed me my pathology report. The lymph nodes and margins around the prostate gland were all negative for cancer. What a huge relief. 

At my six week follow-up with my urologist, I asked for my survivability based on my particular criteria.  It was excellent. I then started PCC’s exercise classes and attended a Life After Prostate Cancer session. 

I had an appointment at the Men’s Health Clinic at PCC to address my concern of a plateau of improvement in my incontinence. On suggestion, I had a physiotherapy session at the vesia bladder clinic adjacent to the PCC. By improving my Kegel exercises and attending a follow-up appointment, I saw great improvement.  

Looking back, I know I made the right choice to have the biopsy and the radical surgery.  Overall, I feel well and my PSA level is now zero. I encourage all men to #GETCHECKED.