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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Mark Pattullo

Prostate cancer - Stage IIB

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

My story

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2014. I was in complete shock. Our younger son had just graduated from high school, and my wife, Deb, and I were working very hard at our businesses. I wasn’t sure how this diagnosis would affect us. I took my time deciding on a course of action. Even though the diagnosis was clear, I also understood that my prostate specific antigen (PSA) count was low, an indicator that I could wait a bit before starting treatment. In researching various options, I came across the website for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA). What I saw there piqued my interest, so I did some additional research, and eventually, Deb and I traveled to the CTCA® hospital near Chicago for a consultation in June 2015.

That first day showed me exactly the kind of care I could expect here. When I heard that I might need six to eight weeks of radiation treatment, I became overwhelmed. I started thinking about Deb having to manage our work life and home life, and all that this would entail for her and for us, and I passed out. Right away, there were people giving me not only medical attention but whole-person attention.

But it wasn’t long before the second shock. About a month after my first visit to CTCA, Deb was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or stage 0 breast cancer. She had the same diagnosis five years earlier and had been treated at the time. So here we were, husband and wife, both diagnosed with cancer at the same time.

Dealing with it

By September 2015, it was time to take action. I chose to have a prostatectomy to surgically remove the cancer. And because I was being treated at CTCA, Deb decided that she would come there, too. Two weeks after my procedure, she had a double mastectomy. Once we were both through our procedures, we headed home for six weeks of recovery together. I wasn’t prepared for the aftermath of a prostatectomy. For a man, the changes are significant. There are sexual side effects that can take a while to heal—ones that can affect you physically and also psychologically.

While I was going through that experience, I also wanted to be supportive to Deb. As it turned out, our dual procedures helped us have more empathy for each other. We have been able to speak candidly about all that we’re going through, and to have humor together about it. Men, by their nature, often want to fix things; they want to take the pain away from their families. But this time, Deb and I were in this mess together. Whoever had the most strength at the moment could get the television remote or make the food. We got through it together, and we became stronger because of it.

I feel CTCA was supportive of my needs. The nutrition counseling we received helped transform our diets, and I was provided with many alternatives to pain medication, which I wanted to avoid if possible. They arranged our visits so that we can see our respective doctors at the same time. We never had to wait for information. If we had a question, we sent it through the online portal and received an answer promptly. I met with a survivorship support provider who made it clear that I could ask any questions I had. She reassured me that although I would not resume my normal sexual function overnight, eventually with work and the proper guidance, it should return. When a nurse noticed that I had back pain, she suggested that I check with a chiropractor before the surgery, so that the problem might be addressed before my recovery. I had a massage before the surgery too, which helped me relax. Nothing felt rote at CTCA; everything felt personal and caring.

Recovery

Today (January 2017), I am still recovering from the surgery and am continuing to make progress. My PSA score indicates minor residual cancer, so my oncologist is continuing to monitor me. I have regained nearly all my normal functions, and we are back to our everyday lives.

But recovery has been about more than the physical healing. I feel like I have recovered a life that I was missing before cancer. Before my diagnosis, my greatest focus was always work. I thought I had to store up as much wealth as possible. But the truth is, there are no guarantees about our tomorrows. I need to enjoy today. With that realization and with an accompanying strengthening of faith, a great sense of peace has grown in our lives. I know God has helped us through this journey. Because of that, I have learned that a seemingly “bad” thing can be a blessing.

Deb and I are stronger than ever. We have learned so much about each other and our marriage. Truly, it feels like nothing can ever come between us.

Throughout it all, CTCA has been a rock for us. The care has been outstanding, and I feel so fortunate that if this had to happen, if Deb and I had to make this journey together, that we could do so at CTCA.