Treated 2009 - Posted 2012

"The more I studied prostate cancer, the more I felt drawn to proton therapy as my treatment path."

Below is the first full entry from John Stevens' blog titled, "On the Path with Prostate Cancer." He wrote the blog soon after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and in it, he processes the highs and lows of his journey.

John also created a second blog where he details his proton treatment experience at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.

Today, John is feeling great. He enjoys hiking and mountain biking. He recently had his annual physical which he refers to as "uneventful." His PSA is down from 4.73 to 0.26.

Below is a photo of John from a recent road trip where he visited the Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.

Life After Proton Therapy - John Stevens

Friday, July 24, 2009

A New Journey into the World of Prostate Cancer

"…and we regret that we are not able to issue a policy."

"The decision was influenced by the following: The results of your ELEVATED PSA RESULTS."

These are the words that put us on a journey into the unknown world of prostate cancer (PCa) on May 20th 2009. At the time we did not have a diagnosis of PCa, but the words mentioned above from West Coast Life Insurance Co. triggered the events that led to that diagnosis on June 30th, 2009. My previous PSA levels from earlier physicals were slightly high but not alarming. Even my current level is not alarmingly high for my age group. At 4.02 it was .01 above the insurance company's threshold. What we realize now is that we should have been put on "Prostate Cancer Alert" years ago.

My urologist informed me that I am in the very early stages with this slow growing cancer and the outlook for a healthy positive outcome is very good. That .01 was a gift, not a curse. When you have prostate cancer you would rather know earlier than later. Even so, it is still a diagnosis that one does not look forward to hearing regardless of the stage. At this point on our journey we are at the "treatment options" phase, which we have found out with PCa is not a "no brainer" decision. Fortunately with my early diagnosis we have time to sort through the options in making our decision on a treatment plan we feel is best for our situation.

The "we" part of this equation is my wife and myself. What we have found out along the way is that doctors are great allies in this battle, but the ultimate decision rests in the hands of the PCa patient. This is because there is no "clear cut" treatment (no pun intended) for a person with a diagnosis like mine, or perhaps yours (early stage PCa and contained within the prostate).

Going in for my consultation with my urologist to get the results of my biopsy, I had already come to grips with the likelihood that I had PCa. Instead of being part of the "1 in 6" men that will be diagnosed with PCa I was in the "1 in 3" camp (my father also had PCa). During my initial exam with my urologist, he found a nodule that he informed me had a 25% chance of it being cancerous. With these factors all aligned I thought I was "prepared" to hear the news. What floored me was hearing that surgery was the preferred option for treating my cancer in my stage and at my age. My first reaction was that this seemed pretty drastic. But then again, I had not enrolled in PC 101 yet.

I was also encouraged to look into the other options, but the idea of surgery had never crossed my mind. My father had excellent results with Brachyherapy (seed implants) and that was the treatment I was expecting to hear for which I was an ideal candidate. From that day forward my wife and I have been enrolled in this self-guided crash course in Prostate Cancer research.

As we have discovered with PCa, there is much information floating around with no one treatment standing out above the rest. This is evidenced in the testimonial sections of the many websites directed at PCa patients. What you find are many good treatment options with varying degrees of success in the results and side effects. We are still in the "undecided" camp when considering the options with additional consultations and second opinions scheduled. It would be nice if someone could walk up to you and hand you a key to unlock the door to the right treatment for you. However, it is more like a serious game show where you must choose your prize from behind one of the many doors that you have before you. At least in our case the doors are marked. The uncertainty lies in not knowing for sure what results you will have once you go through your door of choice.

This is where we are today: seeking, sorting, and studying the options. What door do we choose? The doors that appeal to us the most are in the radiation camp, with Proton Therapy at the top. Next week that might change when we meet with a radiation oncologist as we look further into other radiation therapies. An interesting side note is while seeking opinions and data from various medical professionals, my wife stumbled upon a Male Clinic in our area that treats ED as well as other male conditions. This particular clinic deals frequently with patients with ED issues following surgery. We understand ED is a concern with any of the treatment options, but this comment caught our attention.

For now we ask for God's direction in this phase. We know already what part of His plan is for us … and that is that we are to go through this life challenge with Him before us. We already have a great sense of His calling and purpose in this. God has divinely placed a number of people and resources in our path that have been and will continue to be part of our support network with this cancer. Stay tuned for details!

Click the links below to visit John's blogs:

Blog #1: On the Path with Prostate Cancer

Blog #2: The Stevens Connection