Prostate cancer survivor: Why I chose proton therapy
In August 2018, I went in for a pre-op appointment for a knee-replacement operation. According to my blood panel, heart and blood pressure, I appeared to be in good health and ready for surgery. But I pointed out to my doctor that my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels had increased from a 2 to a 3 over a year and asked for a digital rectal exam. I was surprised when my doctor found a small lump.
After a biopsy, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. And the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. I was relieved that a bone scan showed the cancer had not spread to my bones.
Since I had to wait eight weeks after my hormone shots before radiation could begin, I decided to go on my elk hunting trip in Wyoming as planned. On the airplane, I read a magazine article that said MD Anderson was ranked No. 1 in cancer care and that it offered proton therapy for prostate cancer. I decided to research the hospital and proton therapy when I returned home.
During my trip, I met a stranger who asked how I was doing. I replied, “Not bad. I had my knee replaced in August, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October and got my elk this month. What could be better?” He shared his experience with prostate cancer and proton therapy.
In February 2019, I traveled to Houston to meet with Dr. Shalin Shah and his team. I had an MRI, blood panel and CT scan. Dr. Shah confirmed that proton therapy was the right treatment for my cancer. He never rushed me when I asked questions, and made me feel comfortable and calm.
In June 2019, I began 39 proton therapy treatments. I didn’t feel nervous because my radiation therapists were professional and patient, which put me at ease throughout. And for my last treatment, my wife traveled from New Hampshire to watch me ring the gong.
Finding my support system during prostate cancer treatment
After my daily treatments each morning, I felt good and even joined a local church. Because my treatments were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to attend events to connect with fellow patients. That meant so much when my family couldn’t be with me during treatments.
My cancer story might have turned out differently if I hadn’t gone to the doctor for my knee. Now I’m using every opportunity to remind other men about the importance of prostate screening exams.