May 07, 2021
MD Anderson personalized my prostate cancer treatment
BY Mike Zenner
I’m an average guy that has never been that concerned about my health care. But once I got into my 60s, I started doing annual exams and cancer screenings. I’m a native Houstonian and after spending most of our married life here, my wife Marie and I relocated to the Fredericksburg area after retirement.
When I had my annual physical exam done there in February 2020, blood work showed my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were above a 4 for the first time. My doctor suggested I see a urologist for further assessment and a biopsy.
My biopsy was delayed until September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when I learned that I had prostate cancer, with increased Gleason scores of 6 and 7. I decided not to make a decision about my prostate cancer treatment options until I talked to the doctors at MD Anderson.
Why I chose proton therapy for my prostate cancer treatment
One of my family members called to set up my initial visits. On my first day at MD Anderson, I had appointments with four different doctors to discuss my options.
Based on my case, I was given my treatment options, which were:
- surgery, known as a radical prostatectomy to remove the entire prostate;
- radiation therapy, which uses high-energy beams to kill disease cells; or
- proton therapy, which is like traditional radiation therapy but uses a different type of radiation and targets tumors much more accurately.
I have known other people who’ve had the different types of treatment I was offered. That gave me perspective to draw on. I knew the long-term side effects would be minimal with proton therapy. After meeting with Steven Frank, M.D., I knew that was the right fit. Dr. Frank’s demeanor and interest go beyond thinking of you as just his patient. He always wants to know how the staff treat you and how the patient experience can be improved.
How I minimized proton therapy side effects
During treatment, I did not experience any side effects other than fatigue. I followed my care team’s recommended diet suggestions. This made a big difference in how I felt every day. I stayed on a low fiber diet, ate smaller meals and no fried foods. I limited my caffeine intake to only one cup of coffee per day. I also limited alcohol intake to one glass of wine per week and drank a lot of water. Adopting these lifestyle changes during treatment has helped me create long-term healthy eating habits.
My support network helped me through prostate cancer treatment
While I underwent proton therapy treatments, Marie and I spent two weeks at a time with various friends throughout Houston. That turned out to be a blessing. Through this experience, I’ve learned that lifelong friendships shine their light just when you need them the most.
Of course, it wasn’t only my friends who lifted me up during my prostate cancer treatment. It was my team at Anderson, too. The staff at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center made a big impact on my daily treatments. When I walked in the building each day, the staff and I would greet each other by name. This really personalized my experience. They took the time to establish a relationship with me. That changed everything for me as a patient.
I made sure to do my part and prepare for each treatment. I would start drinking water three hours before my appointment and. I arrived early and had my bladder full for each treatment. As a patient, having a care team that really cares about you encourages you to make the effort and keep a positive attitude.
Listening to music during treatments helped pass the time. My radiation therapists enjoyed trying to guess which musical artist I’d choose each day.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my MD Anderson experience. All the doctors and staff members are rock stars in my book!
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
TopicsProton Therapy Prostate Cancer
When I walked in the building each day, the staff and I would greet each other by name.