The Big “C” and it doesn’t stand for Chef

October 12, 2022

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve added to my blog. Almost a year now. Normally, I’d be musing about my favorite restaurants, spirits, or meals that I’ve enjoyed. This addition is a little different. Not my normal approach to my culinary world but as equally cathartic. I had a routine physical last November with my general practitioner. Blood work, vitals, etc. Everything seemed to be normal except for my PSA, which is an antigen test for levels in my prostate. Normal values are 0-2. Mine was 10.5 in big bold red numbers. I had no idea what the test was and decided to go all ‘webmd’ and look up what it meant and immediately got very nervous. There were multiple reasons why these values were so high. One being cancer. I made an appointment with a urologist, received a generous prostate exam, and then a month later another blood test. Same results.

My urologist was leaning towards a cancer diagnosis but needed more tests done before a confident diagnosis was given. I had an MRI which confirmed my worst fears. Malignant Neoplasm Carcinoma of the Prostate. And this was on the aggressive side of the scale. Panic set in. Now it was treatment and option time. Either have a radical Prostatectomy or Hormone Therapy and Radiation.

I was leaning towards Hormone Therapy and Radiation because I saw what invasive surgery did to my Father and it was awful. I didn’t want to have something as important to me as my prostate removed because of the obvious side effects. Incontinence, impotence, and loss of work due to a lengthy recovery time. My wife and I decided we wanted the best of the best facility to handle my treatment. Though Doylestown Hospital was convenient, only five miles away, we wanted a University Hospital to handle my case.

We met with numerous Oncologists, but our Medical Oncologist was the turning point in my treatment decision-making. He laid out a very grim path for going the Hormone and Radiation route. Two years minus any testosterone in my system to starve the prostate cancer cells because that is what fueled them. This means side effects of bone loss, weight gain, muscle weakness and not to mention any libido and possible breast growth. Yeah, that’s not going to work for me. He encouraged us to speak to a Urology Oncologist to discuss surgery because of the success rates of robotic procedures.

After discussing the pros and cons of surgery with the physician, we decided on a Radical Prostatectomy. To say I was scared to death was putting it mildly. I haven’t had surgery this invasive since I had my appendix removed when I was eight years old. I had no clue what robotic surgery was and was traveling back and forth to Philadelphia weekly for one test after another. Not to mention the risks of robotic surgery with my current weight and heart issues, I was petrified.

On September 21st, the procedure was done. My brother Jon-Paul was kind enough to fly from Kentucky to support me. What was supposed to be a three-hour event, took seven hours! I was inverted on a hospital bed, head down which put all the blood and weight shifting to my head. They had to have the entire anesthesia team from Penn Presbyterian including the head of anesthesia consult to make sure I’d make it through the procedure and live to tell about it. This made my wife and brother very stressed and understandably so. I had seven incisions in my abdomen including a five-inch incision below my belly button. They successfully removed my prostate, the seminal vesicles, and two lymph nodes. There was a concern of spread, so they had to do more than just a prostate removal. I was in the hospital for three days.

It’s been three weeks since the procedure. Cancer did spread to the seminal vesicle but the surgeon said that he removed this as well and there were no signs of tumor spread from the biopsy. Clean margins. I’m going back in November to have follow-up blood work done but I am up and about, sans the catheter but feel like a UTI has now invaded my urethra, and had a urinalysis today to confirm.

My wife Judy has been nothing short of a saint. I’ve been nothing but a depressing pain in the ass. Grumpy, sore, alone, and not feeling productive. I miss my work, and the people that kept me sane at the Tavern and this has been a huge adjustment for me. Surreal. You always watch shows where people talk about their cancer diagnosis and you never think it would ever be you. Well, that’s bullshit. Most men will get prostate cancer and never know it. Most will die not knowing they even had it, and have died from something completely unrelated. I’m very thankful I had the PSA test last November. My doctor said I could have had this cancer for two years and not known it. I implore anyone reading this my age, to get a PSA test when you get your physical. It could save your life.

2 Responses to “The Big “C” and it doesn’t stand for Chef”

  1. Neal said

    Sorry dude, sounds horrible. Hopefully you’re on the road to full recovery. Love ya

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