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Ken Priest

Prostate cancer - Stage III

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

Overview

My story

Rising PSA

When I was diagnosed, at age 64, I had no outward symptoms of prostate cancer, which is often the case with this disease. I’d been monitoring my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, a possible indicator of prostate cancer, along with digital exam for ten years at my annual physicals. When my PSA score started to rise, the doctor suggested (and I knew it was time for) a biopsy.

I work as a Respiratory Therapist, with experience in outpatient, inpatient, home care and aero-medical transport. In 2009, I was working at one of the top-ranked hospitals in the country. I went to see a urologist there for my biopsy. He determined that there was cancer in my prostate, and we agreed that the best course of action was surgery. I had a prostatectomy with robotic assist.

Unfortunately the cancer had spread beyond the prostate. This spreading was impossible to detect prior to surgery, and I know that my surgeon did the best he could to remove the cancer from my body. But four months after the operation, my PSA was rising.

At that time, my surgeon recommended watching and waiting, rather than pursuing further treatment. My wife, an RN, and I began researching other options, which included information regarding CTCA. We visited the location in suburban Chicago in 2011 for tests and evaluation over the course of three days. Based on test results and extensive conversations with radiation and medical oncologists there, we (it was “we” not “me” because my wife and I were in this together) decided for me to pursue radiation with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

My radiation vacation

Deciding on IMRT was not easy. It meant eight weeks far from our home in Florida, being away from my wife and son, as they both worked full time. It also meant taking a leave of absence from work, to spend two months in suburban Chicago that spanned the Christmas and New Year holidays. Winter in Chicago is quite different from winter in Florida, but my wife and I felt it was worth the leap of faith to go for it.

We had explored other options, but we didn’t think that any other facility offered what CTCA could offer, which is patient-empowered care. Other hospitals offer experts, and patients are expected to do what they are told. CTCA offers medical professionals who are experts, but they make recommendations and invite the patient and caregiver to be part of the decision-making process. The integrated care options like nutritional, naturopathic and spiritual support were an integral part of the experience for me. Acupuncture, massage and mind-body medicine were vital, and are provided to every patient and caregiver regardless of whether one’s insurance covers reimbursement.

The eight weeks I spent in Chicago far exceeded my expectations. CTCA made every effort to provide activities for me to participate in so that I would not feel isolated in my room. I never felt alone there. I became involved with the Cancer Fighters network at that time and joined group outings to Christmas-related events that I would probably not have done back home. Those experiences took my mind off of cancer, the treatment and the side effects. A wonderful benefit was they enhanced my spirit and motivation to get well.

With regard to side effects, there were always people available to help me whenever problems arose. A naturopathic oncology provider, physician, or dietitian would recommend a solution to ease the side effects almost immediately.

It was my son who began calling my trip to CTCA my “radiation vacation.” I guess he was right. When things are difficult, CTCA goes above and beyond to make life more comfortable. The transportation staff even made arrangements for me to spend the weekend with my daughter and her family in St. Louis, Missouri, during the holiday.

Not having my wife/caregiver with me made it crucial that I understood the test results and explanations that my care team was relating regarding all aspects of my cancer treatment. My wife/advocate was in Florida, so I had to rely on great communication and trust the caring relationships established with my physicians and their staff. They acted in my best interests and the secure website implemented by CTCA allowed my wife access to my test results the same time they were available to my doctors and me. This gave her assurance of my well-being.

Lifestyle changes, lifelong friendships

Today I am in follow-up care and feeling great. I try to keep up with a proper diet and exercise. I want to put to good use all the advice and help I’ve received from the dietitians and other experts at CTCA. Toward that end, I am now activity involved with Cancer Fighters Care Net, a network of CTCA patients available to newly diagnosed patients seeking information and insights. I was also recently appointed to CTCA’s Patient Advisory Council. I’m honored to be part of these groups because they give me a chance to bring hope to patients in their cancer journey, and to be a voice for them with the Board of CTCA.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We have traveled together since I completed treatment, and just became second-time grandparents. Now 67, I am able to continue working at a local emergency room one day each week. And I continue to be in touch with many of the people I met during my treatment at CTCA. From the janitor at the hospital to the CEO, everyone on staff was incredibly warm and friendly to me, and patients I met are still on my phone list. In fact, I share my story when appropriate which has helped others explore CTCA as an option for cancer treatment. When a person is blessed, as I have been, it is good to share those blessings with others.

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