LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - After believing his battle with cancer was over, longtime WKYT anchor Sam Dick is battling the disease again.
"Being told you have cancer is life-changing," said Dick. "Three-and-a-half years ago, many of you followed my journey fighting prostate cancer and were very supportive as I decided to have surgery to remove the prostate. I was told by doctors at the time, I was cured."
Six months ago, Dick's doctors told him that some cancer remains.
For the last seven weeks, he's been undergoing daily radiation treatments at Lexington Clinic's John D. Cronin Cancer Center to kill the remaining cancer while also keeping his regular schedule of anchoring WKYT's evening newscasts.
"July 11 will be my last treatment, and I'm optimistic," said Dick.
Dick's prostate specific antigen levels stayed undetectable for two years after his prostate was removed.
"I had absolutely no symptoms that any cancer remained. But then last July during an appointment with my urologist, the PSA number crept up by a tiny amount, but no longer undetectable. PSA is a substance produced by the body, and in my case, a rising number means cancer is likely still present."
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men after skin cancer.
"We can't see the cancer cells in a situation when we're treating for a rising PSA after surgery, but we know where we need to treat because there is an overwhelming likelihood that the reason that the PSA is going up is because there is residual disease in the pelvis so that's our target," said Dr. Janalyn Prows, a radiation oncologist.
Using cat scan images of Dick's body and highly sophisticated computer planning software, Dr. Prows developed a plan of attack to kill the cancer with radiation.
"You want high dose, confined to the target and as low a dose as possible to the adjacent organs," Dr. Prows told Dick.
The radiation comes from a linear accelerator. The amount of radiation, duration, and exact location it's aimed are specific to each patient and their cancer history.
"We can tell the computer I want my dose here, I want to avoid these areas," said Dr. Prows.
Assisting Dr. Prows are radiation therapists who make sure his body is lined up precisely so the radiation hits exactly the same places every time he goes through the treatment.
"The first few times I was pretty anxious -- a little nervous about it -- and I definitely said some prayers," said Dick. "But after about five or six days of the radiation, I got more comfortable, and I actually tried to take a nap."
"It's not uncommon for men who've had their prostate removed because of cancer to find out years later some cancer" remains, but it's not what I expected, or centrality wanted," said Dick. "I feel blessed. Twenty years ago my father found out he had prostate cancer. They had nothing like this available. The advances of medical technology are a blessing I'm taking advantage of, and I'm hopeful and optimistic it's going to work."
Dr. Prows told Dick she believes his family history centrality played in his decision to have this treatment. "You did have a rise in the PSA on multiple consecutive tests. I think you're going to sleep better at night knowing that you've done everything you can do at this point in time to keep this disease under control," Dr. Prows told Dick.
Dick won't know whether the treatment was successful for least two months.
"That's how long I need to wait to have my first PSA test post-radiation. At that time, we'll see where I am," Dick said. "Until then, I appreciate all the emails, Facebook posts, and notes of support and prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!"