The call came this afternoon from my surgeon, and his first words to me were..."it's a good report." He did not say great or perfect. With cancer I've quickly learned there are probably few absolutes, or 100% guarantees. That's okay, I can live with a good pathology report vs. the alternatives. It was a week ago today I had my prostate removed, and hopefully all of the cancer. My expectation this week was they had found the cancer early on, and there was a very small amount of it. Reality is a little different.
My surgeon says the pathology report found cancer on both sides of the prostate (my biopsy only showed it on one side). He believes my prostate had 15% cancer. To me that's more than a small amount. The big question-had it spread beyond the prostate? They found "one small" spot near the base of my prostate that "approaches" the wall of the capsule. The pathologists did extra slices and stains of that area to verify as much as they could that it had not gone into the wall of the prostate and beyond. I'll take that over, it has definitely spread. It is not 100% I am cured, but my surgeon says it looks like I am cured. In his words now, "you have less than a 5% chance of dying of prostate cancer in your lifetime." Remember, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. One in six of us will get it. We may not die of it, but there's a good chance you'll be diagnosed.I asked my surgeon if I had done the right thing having the prostate removed now. He said seeing this pathology report tells him my cancer was on the move,and would have been a much bigger problem down the road.
How do I feel? Greatly relieved, and so appreciative of two people. I called Noelle, my wife, immediately with the results, and proceeded to break down on the phone. I told her through my tears, she and my father, David Dick, saved my life. There is no doubt of that. Noelle knew the second I was diagnosed, and we understood the treatments available, that surgery was the only path for us. She wanted the cancer out. I was less on board with surgery because there are serious side effects. I also trust Noelle with my life, and her determination helped me make the final decision of surgery. I owe her my life. As for Dad, he fought prostate cancer for 17-years, and passed this past July at age 80. He drummed into me the need for me to go in for annual prostate exams before age 50. I did, and five-years later, when my PSA jumped up, we found the cancer thru a biopsy. Had my father had today's awareness of prostate cancer and 2010 medical knowledge, his life might have turned out much different. I owe him my life.
So in 5-weeks I return to my surgeon for a check-up, and a new PSA test. It should be below .1. Then I will have PSA tests once every 6-months for two-years. If it stays below .1 than I will have tests once every year.
Yes, now more than ever, I know how precious life is each day. I know many people care and love me. I know this will be a very special Christmas.