No Family History Lots Of Family Support
Lawrence never expected to get cancer because it didnt run in his family. It was at the doctors suggestion that he began getting an annual prostate-specific antigen blood test in 1993. Hed been having the tests for 11 years when his PSA level jumped to 5 times what it had been the year before. Additional tests confirmed that he had an aggressive kind of prostate cancer. But there was also good news: it had probably not yet spread to other parts of his body.
When Lawrence found out he had prostate cancer, his family and friends rallied around him. His wife theyve now been married 54 years gave up many activities to be with him at his medical appointments. Lawrence said, It meant the world to me to have her by my side.
Bruces Prostate Cancer Story: Gleason Score 8/9 Stage 4a
Bruce shares his stage 4A prostate cancer story, Gleason score 8/9, which began with a diagnosis at just 51 years old. He details going through a radical prostatectomy , salvage radiation, and hormone therapy.
Explore Bruces in-depth story below, where he highlights many important quality of life topics, including the impact of hormone therapy on sexual function, the importance of self-advocacy and awareness, why its important for men to share their stories and ask questions, and the transition to survivorship.
- Name: Bruce M.
Tell us about yourself outside of cancer
Passionate about scuba diving though I dont get to do it often now. Ive been diving since I was a little kid. My older sister scuba dove and got us into that. Used to live in California and did that as a youngster.
I became a scuba instructor in 1983. The first instructor class held in Egypt is where I got my instructor certification.
I was there for a couple of years with my then-girlfriend now-wife, Lisa, whom I met in college in California .
I love diving into the water. Its very comfortable!
Video: Bruce on Getting Diagnosed
First Symptoms and Test
What were the first symptoms
I noticed that I couldnt really control the velocity of my urination. Whether that was due to the prostate cancer or not, Im not positive specifically, but at the time it was a bit concerning. But I was also getting older.
What happened at the first doctor visit
What is the PSA test
Dealing With The Unknown
I am sorry about your friend. I also thought that I had received a death sentence when diagnosed 16 years ago. The Gleason 9 is high risk cancer but usually treatable. Cure depends on the patient status and disease advancement. The tests he is scheduled for this week will help in identifying his clinical stage. Even if all gathered information do not provide the real status of the disease one should think in a treatment that he feels comfort with.
I read your blog and would like to know more details of his diagnosis. Can you tell his age? What about the PSA result of 5 weeks ago? How many needles of the biopsy were positive to cancer and what was the Gleason grade ?
I have posted to another Gs9 member of this forum a few days ago which comments I would suggest you to read. His case is different but it serves an example of a Gs9 case also with an initial high PSA.
The seminal vesicles involvement in your friends case indicates spread out of the gland. The metastases could be localized but it could have spread further, typically to the lymph nodes and upper chest . This is the missing information that his doctor is trying to find.
This link summarizes the matters of prostate cancer, which you may see it helpful
I think that survivors here can help you greatly in understanding about the problem. Just provide more details of his case and the results of the tests.
Best wishes and luck in his journey.
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Focus On Hope And On What You Love
Billy has also found it heartening to support and encourage others with cancer by sharing much of his own experience with the community that regularly gathers on Connections.
I try to live each day as if I dont have this terrible disease, he says. My advice to others living with metastatic cancer is to focus on the things youve always loved doing. You dont have to try to find a reason to keep fighting cancer, but instead you need to see the reasons that are right there in front of you. His personal joys include cooking and vacationing in Cape Cod with his wife and friends every year and, as of 2012, spending time with his granddaughter, Collette.
Colette being born was one of the happiest moments of my life! he says. Maybe Ill survive to see her go to kindergarten or even graduate from college. I know it sounds ridiculous to entertain such unlikely hopes, but when hope is what sustains you, you just hope. And hope. And hope. Nobody lives forever, but Ill take every second of time I get. I live for the times I see her.
Surviving Metastatic Prostate Cancer Derek Lawrence
I first learned that I had prostate cancer from my urologist in 1995, and he told me that I actually had a very aggressive cancer.
I had been to my family doctor in 1992 and 1993 for my annual checkup, which was fine no mention was ever made to me about having a PSA blood test, but I was given a digital rectal exam. Somehow I missed my checkup in 1994, and by 1995, it was a completely different story. My doctor found that there was hardness on the outside of the prostate and also some nodules, but I was told that it was not serious, although he sent me to an urologist for further examination.
The urologist gave me my first PSA blood test, which was 10.4, and he sent me to Sunnybrook for a biopsy I had a total of nine shots which showed that I had a Gleason Score of nine and a grade of cancer T2C. Because I had a cancerous nodule at the apex of the prostate, prostate surgery to remove my prostate was not an option, so I was put on Andracur, an oral hormone treatment. I remained on Andracur for two years, having blood tests every three months. I was then told that my cancer was dormant and in remission, but in 1997, after changing hospitals, I found that this was not the case.
Holland Landing, Ontario
Also Check: What Causes Prostate Psa Levels To Rise
Dealing With The Downsides
Billy has had to cope with side effects from the hormone therapy thats controlling his cancer, including fatigue, weakness, night sweats, and loss of libido and muscle mass. He takes walks to keep fit. Unfortunately, I acquired asthma from the lung surgery that took half of my left lung, and now I have to carry an oxygen tank to enable me to walk, he says. If I dont use it, Im not going to get very far, but I dont want to reduce my activity level. I refuse to accept that.
These side effects can be scary, he says, but its nice to know that MSK offers resources like the Sexual Health Program that can address some of them. MSK also provides services such as social work, physical rehabilitation, and complementary therapies. Billy didnt end up using those particular options, but he says, Theres a certain level of comfort and security about MSK that I dont believe I would get anywhere else. I feel safe. They have my back.
This was especially evident when Billy became depressed after learning he had metastatic prostate cancer and also losing his younger brother to suicide. He reached out to MSKs Counseling Center for someone to talk to. Depression is slow and insidious I was just sinking into an abyss, and losing my brother was the tipping point for me, he recalls.
Prostate Cancer Survivor Does His Homework
When Kent Lawrence, now 77, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004, he didnt know much about it. He jokes that he didnt even know how to spell it. But he and his wife quickly got up to speed by reading books, articles, and Web sites that described the many different options in prostate cancer treatment. When it was time to meet with a team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, they were prepared. The treatment recommended by the team matched what the Lawrences had already determined would probably be best. That helped make them feel confident in their decision.
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Find A Treatment That Suits You
Hank Curry doesnt take life lying down. He hauls hay and competes in roping competitions. So when the Gardnerville, Nevada resident was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2011, he adopted the same approach to fighting cancer.
Currys doctors encouraged him to have surgery. After all, the cancer was pretty advanced. When he had a biopsy, doctors checked 16 places on the prostate for the presence of cancer. All 16 came back positive.
They said they felt there was a good chance the cancer had spread out of the prostate itself and into my abdominal cavity. They told me we could remove it, but there was no guarantee they would get it all, he says. If youre going through the inconvenience and surgery and the pain to have that surgery and it still might not eliminate the cancer, I realized that wasnt the surgery for me.
Instead, Curry underwent 9 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week. He then received Lupron injections to keep his body from producing testosterone that could fuel a recurrence of his cancer. He started his treatments in January 2012 and ended them 8 months later in August.
During his treatments, Curry maintained a regular physical regimen, ate well, and tried to keep his body in shape. This helped him regain his strength and continue with hay hauling. I dont feel like Im a wimp or anything.
What Are The Stages Of Prostate Cancer
Cancer staging is first described using what is called a TNM system. The “T” refers to a description of the size or extent of the primary, or original, tumor. “N” describes the presence or absence of, and extent of spread of the cancer to lymph nodes that may be nearby or further from the original tumor. “M” describes the presence or absence of metastases — usually distant areas elsewhere in the body other than regional lymph nodes to which the cancer has spread. Cancers with specific TNM characteristics are then grouped into stages, and the stages are then assigned Roman numerals with the numerals used in increasing order as the extent of the cancer being staged increases or the cancer prognosis worsens. Prognosis is finally reflected by considering the patient’s PSA score at presentation as well as their Gleason score in assigning a final stage designation.
The American Joint Commission on Cancer system for prostate cancer staging is as follows:
Traditionally, advanced prostate cancer was defined as disease that had widely metastasized beyond the prostate, the surrounding tissue, and the pelvic lymph nodes and was incurable. However, a more contemporary definition includes patients with lower grade disease with an increased risk of progression and/or death from prostate cancer in addition to those with widely metastatic disease.
The National Cancer Institute and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines on prostate cancer version 2.2017 indicate the following:
Prostate Cancer Survivor Athlete Story
When were you diagnosed with cancer and what was the diagnosis?
I was diagnosed just over a year ago on 7th March, 2017. Following many scans and tests I was diagnosed with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes and bones.
Where did you go for your treatment?
I was treated at the London Oncology Clinic by Dr Chowdhury. I started on hormone treatments to reduce the testosterone acting on the cancer. This then followed with 6 sessions of chemotherapy which started in the middle of April, finishing in August.
What was the hardest part of your cancer diagnosis?
One of the hardest parts was initially being told. I couldnt believe it, I considered myself reasonably fit, never spent a day in hospital unless I was visiting others. It was a real shock to me and my daughter.
Did you want to know the finer details of the diagnosis or as little as possible?
I knew the treatment at LOC was great and I was in extremely good hands. I looked forward to having the treatment and getting better, I never worried about alternative options. I wanted to know as much as possible about the cancer and what it all meant. I knew it had spread but I also wanted to know exactly what the condition was.
What support did you have both at home and at the LOC?
When did you start at CP+R?
How has CP+R impacted your cancer journey?
Did you think CP+R would help? Or did you just follow Dr Chowdhurys recommendations?
What were some of your side effects?
Cancer Sucks Survivorship Doesnt Have To
Matthew Zachary is an advocate in the adolescent and young adult cancer survivor community who recently created OffScrip Media, an audio network devoted to sharing stories of patients and advocates.
Matthew Zachary doesnt do anything halfway. After being told in 1995 at age 21 that hed likely be dead in 6 months from brain cancer, he survived and went on to found Stupid Cancer in 2007, an advocacy organization credited with kickstarting the adolescent and young adult cancer movement.
With help from other survivors and advocates, he built a new community of AYA cancer survivors and families, one he wished he had in 1995. To Matt, survivoradvocates are a driving force in all cancer research progress. He described the Cancer MoonshotSM, the governments effort to accelerate such progress, as what advocacy really pushed for. Were actually using a term Kennedy did, . We couldve never had this conversation 50 years ago because we were dying, but its happening now thanks to advocates efforts and advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.
In 2019, Matt stepped down as CEO of Stupid Cancer and created OffScrip Media, a podcast network sharing voices and stories of patients and advocates. This year, hes celebrating his 25th cancerversary. I dont know how Im still here, he said, But I intend to keep living with punch, meaning, and purpose.
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The Beginning Of The Journey
And so the journey started. I was put on hormone therapy treatment almost immediately.
Waiting for the result of a bone scan was particularly difficult. It was all clear, with no spread an enormous relief! The family, including our son who lives in Canada, were over the moonWow, the emotion of it all. Already, the highs and lows that can and will arise were there. More to come undoubtedly!
The early proposals for treatment from our oncology consultant were, following the hormone therapy, two forms of radiotherapy- brachytherapy and external beam. That doesnt sound so bad was my initial reaction, despite having little real understanding of the implications! However, before that even started, our consultant proposed the addition of chemotherapy, to which I thought oh no I dont like the sound of that The proposal was based on experiences from the STAMPEDE trial, and statistics indicated an improvement in outcome. My daughter, a doctor, said firmly Dad youve got to do it! In a slightly bizarre way I felt encouraged that I was deemed to be fit enough, even at age 71, to be able to cope with all that was being proposed.
How Is Prostate Cancer Staged
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that develops in men and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, behind lung cancer and just ahead of colorectal cancer. The prognosis for prostate cancer, as with any cancer, depends on how advanced the cancer has become, according to established stage designations.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland present only in men, found in the pelvis below the bladder. The prostate gland wraps around the urethra and lies in front of the rectum. The prostate gland secretes part of the liquid portion of the semen, or seminal fluid, which carries sperm made by the testes. The fluid is essential to reproduction.
The term to stage a cancer means to describe the evident extent of the cancer in the body at the time that the cancer is first diagnosed.
- Clinical staging of prostate cancer is based on the pathology results, physical examination, PSA, and if appropriate, radiologic studies.
- The stage of a cancer helps doctors understand the extent of the cancer and plan cancer treatment.
- Knowing the overall results of the different treatments of similarly staged prostate cancers can help the doctor and patient make important decisions about choices of treatment to recommend or to accept.
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New Therapy For Aggressive Prostate Cancer Improves Survival
The experimental treatment relies on radioactive molecules that seek out tumor cells, a strategy that may be useful against other cancers.
An experimental therapy has prolonged life in men with aggressive prostate cancer that has resisted other treatments, offering new hope to patients with advanced illness and opening the door to a promising new form of cancer therapy.
Among men who received the new therapy, there was a nearly 40 percent reduction in deaths over the course of the clinical trial, compared with similar patients who received only standard treatment, researchers reported on Wednesday.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among American men, after lung cancer an estimated 34,130 men will die of prostate cancer this year. One in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives. The risk increases with age, and the cancer is more common in Black men.
The new treatment relies on a radioactive molecule to target a protein found on the surface of prostate cancer cells. The study, which followed 831 patients with advanced disease in 10 countries for a median period of 20 months, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
This is something new youre driving radiation right to the cancer itself, said Karen Knudsen, president and chief executive of the American Cancer Society. Its a much more sophisticated strategy for targeting the tumor.