It's been a long journey for me. Prior to diagnosis, I was exposed to lot of negative prostate cancer discussions regarding the value of the PSA test and specifically, over treatment. Because of this, my high PSA reading was more an annoyance than a fear to me. I was referred to a urologist and she suggested a biopsy. My initial PSA was 8.1 and then corrected to a 4.8 with two weeks of antibiotics. I have no symptoms and a normal size prostate. I very reluctantly agreed to a biopsy. It was January 2012 for my initial reading and the Biopsy occurred at the end of July.
In the meantime, I began to take this whole prostate thing seriously and started doing a lot of reading and research. I was mostly influenced by a book by Dr Aaron Katz. He clearly explained all the issues and therapys and I was very intrigued by his "Holistic Therapy". In fact, I actually started taking his recommended supplements, changed my diet to "Organic" and began a strong exercise routine and am still following this routine. I have never been a vitamin/supplement kind of guy and was skeptical, but I figured that the only downside was the cost of the supplements. I figured that this approach was like active surveillance with an improved lifestyle. Even if I decide on a procedure in the future, I felt that I would respond to the treatment much better if I was in optimal physical condition.
After reading many sad stories of men like me whose cancers progressed made me reconsider possible treatment. I began to worry that I may have waited too long and missed my early detection opportunity to rid my body of this cancer. My reluctance to choose any treatment was because of my fear of the side effects (Quality of Life). It seems that most treatments had trade offs. In December, I came across two new (new to me) treatments. Proton therapy at Loma Linda and HDR Monotherapy at UCLA. I read two books on Proton therapy and was sold.
I live in Sacramento, so I decided to visit both Loma Linda and UCLA. It is about a six hour drive from Sacramento to these locations. I can expand upon my decision at another time, but will simply say that HDR Treatment at UCLA was a clear winner and I have scheduled treatment for February 27th.
With all that said, I must add a very intriguing part of my story. Getting back to the "holistic approach".......my PSA at the time of my biopsy (July 2012) was 5. My next PSA reading came DOWN to 3.8 in November 2012 and guess what?? My PSA came DOWN to a 3.0 in late January.
I am still fully committed to my HDR treatment but am very intrigued by my lowered PSA reading. Did the holistic approach actually shrink my cancer...or merely mask the PSA reading? I have read that PSA does not go down without treatment. [That is simply not correct. PSA levels can vary widely for no ascertainable reason. PSA associated with prostate cancer almost always increases consistently. It does not rise and fall - see PSA 101 for some basics on the subject.] Regardless, my lowered PSA has to be very positive to my treatment plan and recovery.
I will follow up with results and would appreciate any responses and discussions.
I did have a delay in my procedure because my MRI revealed a slightly enlarged (7mm) lymph node, so my Doctor ordered another MRI and then C11 pet scan. Both scans were negative, so we went ahead and rescheduled the HDR Monotheraphy which I completed on April 4th. Initial side effects were as expected; however they disappeared quickly and I was able to resume mostly normal lifestyle almost immediately.
My first PSA will be the first of July and I will post results
It has been 14 months since I had HDR Monotherapy at UCLA. Side effects are virtually zero. My PSA tests post theraphy are a little erratic. At 3 months it was .9. At 6 months it was .7. At 9 months I had an unpleasant surprise at a 1.5....but at 12 months it came back to .9... A big relief to me. I have sometimes thought about stopping my PSA tests because the anxiety is not pleasant and the thought of further treatment is too depressing.
Tom's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org