Prostate cancer - Stage IV
This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.
View CTCA treatment results for prostate cancer
A classic case
When I was 74 years old, I began experiencing symptoms that are considered typical signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. Because many men my age experience BPH, I figured that this was the underlying problem. I was urinating frequently, including multiple times during the night, and was having difficulty with starting and stopping urination. The problem was increasingly aggravating, but it was so strongly linked to BPH that I never suspected anything worse.
My local doctor who I see to help manage my diabetes suggested that I have a biopsy. He referred me to a local urologist, who took a biopsy of my prostate and soon afterwards informed me that I had stage IV prostate cancer. The tumor was on the right side of my prostate and was pushing into my bladder. That finding ruled out surgery as a treatment option because the hole left in my bladder would have caused a worse problem than the cancer. My urologist told me that if he were facing a cancer diagnosis, he would go to Houston rather than be treated locally near our hometown of Granbury, Texas. My wife and I began investigating options.
Being part of it
After seeing advertisements for Cancer Treatment Center of America® (CTCA) on television, we spoke with an Oncology Information Specialist and also an “ambassador” (someone who’d been treated at CTCA for my same type of cancer). We were interested, but needed to make sure our insurance was accepted. As it turned out, our plan would allow me to be treated at the facility near Chicago.
My wife, Annette, and I flew to Chicago for my initial consultation. Immediately I saw how the care team included us in the treatment process. I hold a PhD in hospital administration and worked for years training doctors in the use of radiology and imaging equipment. During my career, I was always pushing for better inclusion of patients in treatment decisions and other aspects relevant to their healing. But at CTCA, I could see even during that initial consultation that I would be part of my care. This approach is just part of how they operate.
A weakened state
After the first visit to decide on a treatment plan, my wife and I returned to Illinois by car for my nine weeks of radiation treatment. Having my wife and our dog with me made our stay feel a little more home-like, which I was thankful for.
The treatment was not always easy. My body began to weaken, and as a former football player and generally athletic person, this was hard to experience. For the first time in my life, I craved afternoon naps. I felt like I got old overnight. But everyone involved in my care helped me through. After two or three weeks of radiation, I began experiencing leg weakness. I told the nutritionist, who recommended some supplements and a visit with the physical therapy team. The next morning when I saw my oncologist, he asked me how my legs were feeling. I was amazed that he had found out about this issue I’d told someone else about the day before.
My wife was also part of my healing. She never had a negative moment throughout this time. Her spiritual background gave her strength, and in turn she gave me strength. My care team looked after her, too. She mentioned she had occasional acid reflux and knee pain from an old injury, and they suggested she see an acupuncturist at CTCA, which gave her relief.
Time for life
When the treatment was difficult, we just marked the days off one at a time, keeping ourselves aware that the end was in sight. I also tried to forget about time, to stop thinking that I should be feeling some particular way by some point after my treatment. Time should not be such a controlling factor in our lives. Cancer treatment was a process that I had to go through, and time just wasn’t important.
Today I am able to speak as an ambassador to others, just as someone else did for me. The most important point I always try to make is that at CTCA, patients are part of the process. Patients are kept aware of all the medications being prescribed, of everything being done. And the doctors keep track of how you are doing—not just how the cancer is responding to the treatment, but how you are doing, physically, mentally and emotionally. You are involved as a partner in your care. You are made part of it. And that involvement is essential to getting through cancer treatment.
I have returned to my work as County Commissioner, and my wife and I are getting back into golf. We enjoy our time with our children and grandchildren (a combined 14 between the two of us), and continue to live our lives not according to the clock but according to our hearts.
Dick and I had been married for a year and a half when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His PSA score was high and a biopsy revealed cancer as the underlying cause. I began doing some reading online about different cancer centers, and I liked what I read about Cancer Treatment Center of America® (CTCA). There was so much information available about their approach to cancer care and everything was made transparent. The philosophy behind their care—that it is all about the patient—was very appealing. So I told my husband that I thought he should call.
From the start, I never doubted that Dick would be okay. Somehow I knew that he would get through the treatment and be in good health. What I read about CTCA increased my confidence that he would find the care he needed.
During Dick’s initial consultation, we spoke with Dr. Patel about his treatment options. It was very interesting that he told us that one of the options was a type of therapy that was available at only very few cancer centers in the country, and CTCA was not one of them. The fact that he would tell us about a treatment that wasn’t available there, so that we would be fully informed of all our options, was very reassuring. They didn’t just want our business; they wanted Dick to have the care that he thought he needed.
Home away from home
Staying at CTCA for a few weeks while Dick underwent treatment felt a little like a vacation. For the radiation, he had three radio broadcast implants on the right side of his prostate that then served as guides for the radiation, so that it could be focused on the exact spots where there was cancer. This approach had very few side effects, on his bowel and urinary tract. His nutritionist recommended a diet that would aid the process, such as food without preservatives, which was very helpful.
We were able to enjoy our time away from home. We stayed at a hotel in Kenosha, Wisconsin, about 14 miles from CTCA. We drove up from our home in Texas, so Dick was able to drive himself to and from treatment each day. When he wasn’t in treatment, we made the time into a vacation. I took golf lessons. We went to see the Lipizzan horses, in Wadsworth, Illinois, not far from the hospital.
The importance of communication
I had been a caregiver for eight years after my first husband suffered a severe stroke, so I knew how hard it could be. Being a caregiver is so individual; every patient’s needs are different, and each caregiver will have their own way to help. But the need for good communication and the necessity of taking care of oneself is always there. The communication lines have to be kept open, so that patients can let caregivers know what they need, or even just what they are feeling.
You can’t work against cancer alone, so you have to work with it through the care of the doctors and the team to whom you are assigned. Communication between the medical team, the patient, and the spouse cannot be emphasized enough. At CTCA, the patient and his or her caregiver are just that: people the entire team knows by name not case number.
Of course I had concerns, and had a lot of “what if...” thoughts. But that’s where good communication comes in. Dick and I talked about everything. We talked about the “what if,” and had plans in place. We have six children and fourteen grandchildren between us, so we have a lot to consider. Communication allowed us to address those concerns.
At the same time, I never let go of my belief that everything was going to be okay. Going through this with Dick brought me closer to my faith in God, and that faith helped me not waver. Today, Dick is back to work as County Commissioner, and we are doing all the things we enjoy—reading, going to the theater. He plays piano, and I pursue my artwork. We are living our lives together, and I am grateful every day for that.