Never has one word meant so much to me. But let me back-up for a minute.
For those of you who have not been able to keep up with my battle against prostate cancer, I was diagnosed last October. December 9th I had surgery to remove my prostate, and we hoped, all the cancer. The following week my pathology report came back, and Dr. Smith told me it looked like I was cured. But he also said there a place in the prostate where the cancer was "approaching" the wall. He didn't think it had crossed over beyond the prostate. For the last 6-7 weeks I have had that bit of doubt in the back of my mind.
Monday I returned to see Dr. Smith for my post-op, check-up. We discussed my recovery, the side-effects of impotence and incontinence, and then I asked him..."so what about the cancer that was "approaching" the prostate wall?" He took out a piece of paper, and drew a circle. He showed me where the cancer was right on the edge of going beyond the prostate. And then he told me he had taken some tissue from my bladder during surgery. I held my breath. I think my wife Noelle probably did too. Dr. Smith said the pathology report on the bladder tissue came back negative for cancer. We exhaled. Whew! This is serious stuff.
With that answered (as best we can for now), the next big hurdle was my PSA number. PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen, and the higher the PSA number, the greater chance you have prostate cancer. We already knew I had prostate cancer, but with my prostate removed, we needed the PSA number to come back near zero, or undetectable. If it didn't, then there was a chance the cancer had spread. Even a PSA number as low as point-1 would be too high. So they took some blood, and Dr. Smith told me he'd know Tuesday my PSA number. It was a restless night. On Tuesday morning, the phone rang, and it was Dr. Smith. His words were direct and liberating..."undetectable." With that I relaxed, and celebrated in my mind. Major hurdle jumped successfully. Noelle rejoiced!
The plan is for the next two-years I will have my PSA level tested every 6-months, and if it remains "undetectable" then I go to my doctor once a year for testing. You see, with cancer, at least mine, there are no guarantees. You just keep fighting and keeping track of your health by whatever means you can. I will say this. Noelle and I knew we made the right decision having the surgery. Now we are 150% it was the right move. If we had waited 6-months, would the cancer have spread to the bladder? If so, how long before symptoms appeared? Months? Years? Those are tough questions we don't have to answer.
The fight is not over, but we sure feel good about our position on the battlefield. As my Dad lived and breathed to the last...Never, Never, Never, Give-Up.