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Catherine and I had been through my symptoms, diagnosis, staging, treatment and hormone-deprivation therapy. “It’ll be like a menopause,” the consultant had said, and it certainly was. Through flushes, mood swings, emotional fragility and a whole host of side effects from the drugs, she was there, supporting me all the way. Then the treatment was done, a fading memory that had strangely enriched our lives, bringing insights otherwise unobtainable. As I said, half-jokingly, I got in touch with my feminine side.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 11.2% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. When caught early and treated, the five-year survival rate is 100%.
When Prostate Cancer Awareness Week began in 1989, my hospital decided the best way to educate the public about prostate cancer was through screening. We offered men in the high-risk group (ages forty to seventy-five) free prostate checks, and about a hundred men preregistered. Participants had their blood drawn for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and received a physical exam from a urologist, who felt the participants’ prostate glandRead More »
As I started my third year of medical school on the consultation psychiatry service, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was naive, afraid, and honestly unprepared. Or that’s how I felt anyway.
My first patient was a man who was referred to our team because of depression. I was sent to talk with him before the rest of the team, including the attending physician, made its rounds. The man was 77 years old but looked more like a older 50. As I introduced myself, a gentle smile formed on his face.
I met George Sheehan, a noted cardiologist as well as a legendary runner and writer about running, in August of 1986. I had been designated to pick him up at the airport in Aspen, Colorado, late the night before he was to speak at a conference that I was managing. We hit it off immediately.
That first meeting, I learned several months later, happened to fall only a few days after he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
As a newly graduated, idealistic physician assistant in 1991, I enthusiastically took to heart all recommendations for health promotion and disease prevention screening. The PSA test was encouraged for all men at that time, and when I found out my father had not been offered what I had been taught was a life-saving test, I beseeched him to have it done. He did and it turned out his PSA was elevated, initiating a medical journey that I am still processing over twenty years later.
After a four-day bout of intense, immobilizing, lumbar back pain, associated with a fever of 103.4, my wife and I decided that going to the ER was indicated. Within a very few hours, I was in the ICU with a presumptive diagnosis of Staph septicemia (infection) and pneumonia. Faced with my falling oxygen saturation, the intensivist recommended intubation and thus, for the next five days, I was in an induced coma while he and the infectious disease physician battled to save my life.
I am a 54-year old academic, family doctor. Last May, after the US Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation that physicians talk with patients about PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing at age 55, I was updating my clerkship presentation about preventive screening. At the time, I was experiencing some palpitations (sensations of an abnormal heart beat), so I decided to check my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and CBC (complete blood count).
Not having checked my PSA since age 48 (it was 0.9 then), I decided, on a whim, to add a PSA to my blood tests. It cameRead More »
As a female, I do not have to deal directly with prostate issues, but I did have to support my father through his own prostate challenge. In February of 1986, Dad’s surgeon said the words we all hoped to never hear: “You need prostate surgery before things deteriorate.”