So in 2001 I did a general health test, and as I was 50 years old I thought I should also get a prostate cancer test, which is a simple blood test, called a PSA test.
After that diagnosis I was really unsure of what treatment to do. This was because I saw 4 different urologists for treatment suggestions and they all gave me different options. One even wanted to do an orchiectomy, the other word for that is castration! He explained to me that prostate cancer is testosterone fed and castration eliminated the majority of the production of testosterone. When I asked him why I would do that instead of taking drugs that did the same thing, AND it was reversible, he said that it was cheaper on the government to do an orchiectomy rather than subsidize the drugs!
I made a mental note….NEVER let this guy give me anesthetic!
So one of my early lessons I learnt was that not all doctors are created equal. There are doctors that graduate at the top of the class and those that graduate at the bottom.
A fellow patient gave me the name of the urologist who was considered the top in this field in Australia, and a week later I flew down to Sydney to St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst. This is the day I mentioned above, 9/11 in the USA. I was sitting in front of a doctor who was telling me my prospects weren’t great! If I had an operation to remove the prostate I had an 8% chance of surviving 5 years. If I did radiation therapy I had a 6% chance of surviving 5 years, hormone therapy something like 5% and brachytherapy about 10%. Not a good day!
The percentages were so low because with such a high PSA, (it was 67, with most people it is under 4) and the aggressive nature of the cancer (Gleeson score 4 + 4), it was almost certain the cancer had metastasized. The cancer had escaped the prostate organ and could be anywhere in the body, and with prostate cancer that means no cure!
But there was better news. If I pulled out all stops did everything (Hormone therapy, External beam radiation, and brachytherapy all in one treatment, my chance at surviving 5 years was around 18%. Sounded pretty good to me after the other figures!
Anyway without dragging this out, that’s what I did. I should point out that I originally thought I would just do natural therapies and forget about doctors. Someone pointed out to me that cancer cells are super aggressive, and that I shouldn’t think that some natural therapy has the oomph to kill those cells. He recommended find the guys on the cutting edge of Western medicine and see what they had to offer. So basically that is what I have been doing these last 13 or 14 years. Oh, and the person who gave me that advice is my spiritual teacher, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda.
More about natural therapies in a later post.
For those who believe strongly in natural therapies for less aggressive forms of cancer I see no problem with that, as long as you monitor to see the cancer IS shrinking. Monitor with regular medical tests that are applicable to your cancer. I have lost more than a few friends and acquaintances who were convinced that the natural therapy they were doing was working, without checking medically if it was, consequently the results were very sad. I must say however I see natural therapies, taken in conjunction with western medicine, as being extremely helpful.
After that initial treatment at St Vincents, the hormone therapy finished 2 years later. But then the cancer started growing back quite quickly. Over the last dozen years I have been on different drugs and had another 3 treatments with radiation therapy, been to Holland for an experimental diagnostic test which gave me results that gave me another 2 years disease free. But it has always come back, to the point where 3½ years ago I started chemotherapy. After 2½ years of Taxotere chemotherapy that also began to fail, so for the last year I have been on Enzalutamide (Xtandi).
Over the last 14 years there is much I have learnt about prostate cancer, the doctors that treat it, and the Australian Health Scheme, I hope to talk a little about these in future postings.
But one thing I’ve come to understand is that I needed to make my own treatment decisions. With so many options I wasn’t happy putting my life into some doctors hands. I’ve also read somewhere that those patients that are involved in their treatment decisions tend to live longer.
Thank You and Namaste
(I welcome and encourage comments and questions on all blogs).