#MenInBlue Prostate Cancer Stories
My name is Greg Cahill. I was not quite 50 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was March 17th – St Patrick’s Day. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling especially lucky this year. As if being locked down at home, protecting ourselves from a global pandemic wasn’t enough, being diagnosed with prostate cancer was not exactly what we needed.
I immediately started doing research and meeting with professionals. Several doctors suggested that I start treatment within 3 months. Making a decision regarding my treatment wasn’t easy. We did lots of research, met with many professionals, and shared my diagnosis with family and friends. All of this provided me more and more information that helped me weigh all the factors needed to stand up and take charge of my health. I encourage everyone facing a similar diagnosis to do the same. Take your time, be thorough, and ask as many questions as you need to.
Ultimately, I chose surgery. Of course, I was scared. I had never had surgery, never mind cancer. Thankfully, my very first referral was to a great doctor just minutes from our house. By the time Prostate Cancer Awareness Month begins, it will be my eleventh week from surgery. I am now happy to report that my PSA count has reached undetectable levels. The side effects that I most worried about for weeks before surgery were not nearly as problematic as I thought they might be. I am a part of a few support and information groups via The Prostate Cancer Foundation and Facebook. My involvement in these groups, along with sharing my story with friends and loved ones, has continued to support me and my spouse as we move forward and take charge of our health. You can do this. You are not alone. Join me in taking that first step to a happy and healthy post treatment life.
My name is Paul Colacchio. I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer two years ago. I had a complete prostatectomy and I am still learning to live with the limitations that come with this cancer. The day I was diagnosed will always be the day my life changed forever.
I work in the medical field, around cancer patients, so I felt informed enough to handle this. What I learned, however, is that you are never really prepared. Ultimately, my fear of what I was going through actually fueled my strength. It gave me the power to push through.
The most important factor for me was having a team of medical providers with whom I felt I could trust my life. I learned that the care-givers you surround yourself with also have the intense job of keeping you from going over the edge emotionally.
This is now a way of life for me - frequent oncology visits, always wondering when the next shoe will drop, and feeling so vulnerable.
But I am alive, and I live each day to its fullest. I continue to approach everything in my life with patience, foresight and clarity, hoping to get all of the joy that I can, to be as happy as possible.
My name is Joe Stark. I’m 66 years old and I was diagnosed at age 59 with prostate cancer. After a lot of investigation and consultation, I decided on a treatment of anti- testosterone, hormonal therapy and MRI-guided radiation therapy. As I understood it at the time, the survival outcomes were equal to the surgery option, but with less chance for bad side effects, such as incontinence and/or impotence.
I was given Lupron, Casodex and Zytiga. I was on these drugs for 18 months and they took my testosterone down to zero. While I was on them I experienced fatigue, hot flashes, an odd emotional sensitivity, and a complete lack of sexual desire or ability. After my course of treatment, the side effects went away and very gradually over time, my sexual desire and ability returned. I’m not the man I used to be, but I could get it done. (wink)
Today, my cancer is completely gone. I go for periodic checkups and get an MRI every two years. The disease changed me. It kind of knocked my socks off. But at least I’m alive. I travel, play golf, take classes at the gym (when it’s open), hike and bike. When I was diagnosed, my attitude was to just do what they tell you to do, stay strong, and try and come out the other side. Well, I’m out the other side now and I’m grateful to be here. Looking forward to having grandchildren one day.
My name is Jeff and I’ve been an athlete most of my life. I’m now 66 years old but had my first experience with the prostate in my early 40’s. During one of my regular physicals my doctor told me he didn’t like that my PSA count was creeping up. He said we needed to watch it regularly and that maybe, I should see a urologist. Well, like most guys, I decided to keep an eye on it myself and just keep getting blood tests every 6 months. I realized that I knew nothing about my own prostate. I did some quick family research and found that my grandfather had prostate cancer back in the 60’s. He had surgery to take care of it and was left with difficult side effects. I started to freak out. After all, I’m an athlete and this isn’t supposed to happen to me. I did some more research and found that a large percentage of men have prostate issues. I reached out to a close friend who told me that he had been diagnosed with Prostate cancer 10 years before, and that he chose to have surgery to remove his prostate. He said that in his case surgery was the best way to be rid of it. I asked him all kinds of questions and his answers both enlightened me and concerned me. I was really scared of what was to come.
I had my first visit with a young urologist when I was in my early 50’s. My PSA count was steadily creeping up by that time, somewhere around 6 or 7, and he strongly recommended that we do a biopsy. I asked what was involved, not knowing anything about the procedure, and he said it was no big deal. In fact, it was an in-office procedure and I would be in and out in about an hour. Being the athlete I was, I figured I could do this no problem.
Now there is a reason why I’m relaying this first experience, which I will get to shortly.
The only way I can describe my experience, while lying on the table in the doctor’s exam room, was that this must be the same pain that a woman feels during natural childbirth, but through the wrong orifice. Something felt terribly wrong and I was about to pass out. The urologist asked if I was okay and I said, “I’m not sure, how much longer do we have to go?” He said we are about half-way through, and if it was too difficult, we could stop and do this again in a hospital setting. Being the consummate athlete, I made the decision to tough it out and complete the procedure. Bottom line, I had pre-cancerous cells and needed to watch it carefully and get checked again regularly. There was no way I was going through that kind of procedure again! I really wasn’t sure what to do at this point.
Several years later, enter my good friend Dr. P., Our wives were teaching partners and the four of us had started socializing. During one of our evenings out, I learned that Bob was a well-respected radiologist and he learned that I was a tennis player. Well, I couldn’t wait to tell him my survival story from my first prostate biopsy. He told me that it didn’t have to be that way and how the entire procedure had evolved. His was one of the first radiology groups to develop MRI guided biopsies that were more accurate and, consequently, much less painful. In fact, he said that he would best describe them as uncomfortable, not painful. Needless to say, I asked a lot of questions, got a lot of guidance, and learned that the testing and treatment are much more routine and successful than ever before.
It’s all light years ahead of the treatment my grandfather first dealt with some 60 years ago. It’s even more advanced than when I thought I was giving birth on that office exam table some 10 years ago.
I had my 2nd biopsy at Rolling Oaks Radiology in Thousand Oaks (now owned by Radnet) under the care and guidance of Dr.P. It was a breeze! What a difference 10 years can make! It was determined that I had waited just long enough, and it was time to get rid of the cancer in my body, which was still contained within my prostate. This is one of the most important things for us guys to understand. Prostate cancer is very common and, when diagnosed and treated early, it is very treatable. It is amazing to me how prevalent prostate cancer is and how little most guys know or talk about it. I am living proof that when you stay out in front of this disease you can rid yourself of it and continue to live a normal life. The biggest danger is keeping yourself in the dark and not discussing it with doctors first, and also with friends or acquaintances who you know have been through it.
I speak openly to anyone who is dealing with prostate issues and find that they always appreciate the honesty and find comfort in talking to someone who has been through their same experience.
Although there are many options, in my case I chose to remove my prostate and the cancer along with it. Here’s the thing, if you are pro-active and catch it early, you have the best chance of containing the cancer cells within the prostate. That greatly improves the likelihood that all of the cancer cells are removed from your body along with the prostate. It also can minimize the side effects of this type of surgery
I recall the horror stories from the past, those side effects after prostate surgery -- the inability to hold your pee or to get an erection. Thanks to the advancements of the MRI guided biopsy’s and advanced surgeries, most of these scary and embarrassing side-affects can be avoided. With the MRI guidance and these new techniques, prostate testing and surgery is extremely focused, accurate and for the most part painless. A full recovery is well within reach, especially when you act early!
I’m happy to say, I am cancer free, back on the tennis court and enjoying my wife and family more than ever. Thanks to the guidance and support of Dr. P, the development of modern techniques, and the outstanding, well informed surgeons who wield those crazy, robotic instruments!
Keep the discussions flowing.
My name is Dr. Michon Helio I was diagnosed with prostate cancer2 years ago. At that time, we had no choices other than prostatectomy. I have to say that I kept a positive attitude throughout my surgery and treatments.
I look back today as it were a blip on the radar and I didn’t let it stop me form doing everything I wanted to in my life.