Treated 1998 · Posted 2002 · Updated 2008 & 2015
"The doctor started off the conversation with, “You have prostate cancer and have one to three years to live. Go home and get your house in order." That was 17 years ago!
In December 1997 my internist called to tell me I had a high PSA and he thought I had an infection. After ten days of antibiotics and another PSA, he called again and told me to see a urologist ASAP (Note: I had physicals every year, but was never told my PSA.). I asked the doctor every year and his answer was always, “Your prostate is slightly enlarged, but normal for your age”. I told him every year that I wanted to know early if there was a problem. I have since found out he doesn’t believe PSAs mean anything.
After seeing the urologist in January 1998 and having the biopsies done, he waited until February to get the results. The doctor started off the conversation with, "You have prostate cancer and have one to three years to live. Go home and get your house in order." My wife and I were shocked. I felt good and had no symptoms. I was immediately started on Zolodex, a shot every month.
Though still in shock, my wife and I were able to research and find other doctors for second and third opinions. We have a son-in-law who is a doctor and our daughter, a nurse. They were both helpful with our research.
Since I had a friend who went to Loma Linda University Cancer Center for proton treatment the year before, I made an appointment for a consultation there. We spent an hour with a doctor in the proton center who answered all of our questions and was very honest with us. Since my PSA was 61 and Gleason 10+ he felt I probably would not be a candidate since the cancer was most likely outside the prostate. He had me get a "prostascint" and a scan of the entire torso after taking isotopes four days prior. Much to our surprise (and joy!), they found the cancer was still localized.
I started proton therapy at Loma Linda in early July, 1998. I had fifteen proton and twenty five photon treatments. The only side effects were diarrhea the last few weeks, and I take a Flomax occasionally if I have trouble urinating.
Since treatment, my PSA has gone down continually and I have had no side effects.
My wife and I are Christians and have felt God's presence guiding us all the way. The prayers and support of friends and family, and the wonderful care and love shown to us at Loma Linda, are beyond description! God is good. He still heals and gives great peace in times that seem hopeless.
Update: June 2008
It has been ten years since my proton therapy. I am now 76 years old and VERY active, have not changed my lifestyle since completing treatment. My PSA is now 0.4 and steady, quite a difference from the original 61. I continue to tell people about my story and I remind them that there is quality of life after cancer… if they make the right choice of therapy, keep a positive attitude, and not giving up. I am very active in my church, Homeowners Association, keeping the house maintained, as well as an acre of property, and I still have time and energy to travel and enjoy my family and grandchildren. Healing, for me, was not just proton and wonderful support at Loma Linda, but also my faith in God who has complete control of my life. He is the "Great Physician." I am always available to help anyone who has questions or needs support. Just contact Deb Hickey at DHickey@protonbob.com and she will give you my information.
Bob continues to be a huge support to the BOB organization by volunteering to speak with newly diagnosed men. He is in constant contact with us, keeping us up-to-date on what he is doing and how he is feeling (although he's slowed down due to age, he's still active in his community and caring for his wife who is ill). Bob is a very special man with a big heart. We are always delighted when he checks in and wish he and his wife, Audrey, all the best.