When Prostate Cancer Returns – One Man’s Chronicle – PSA Rising – Part 1

“Denied!”

That’s what the paper I received in the mail said related to a recent application for life insurance.

Prostate Cancer PinAmazed.  I was honestly confused.  I had never been denied life insurance and to be denied for the small amount I was applying for seemed crazy.  So, of course, the first thing I did was rather indignantly call my insurance advisor and ask what the heck was wrong.  I didn’t expect his response.

“Well Chuck, they told me that the probability of you living another 20 years was slim…therefore they denied it.  After all your PSA is rising.”

All I could do was shake my head.  “I understand,” was the best I could mutter back as I was reeling in disbelief at the words I was hearing.  How did I not know my PSA was rising and what did that mean.  The probability I would not live another 20 years was mind blowing…after all I’m only 56.

As I ended the call the only thing I could think of was getting my medical records – surely something was wrong!

A BRIEF HISTORY

In November of 2004 (when I was 47) I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.  I had no symptoms, in fact I thought I was healthy as a horse.  But a fateful trip to the doctor’s office yielding a simple blood test started the cascade of events leading to a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer.  Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect that I would ever be diagnosed with cancer – especially at that young age.

Of course my local urologist wanted to schedule immediate surgery.  Not a chance!  I believe that a patient needs to take responsibility for his or her own health and giving that power to anyone – including a doctor with good intension – is crazy.   Some may disagree…but my body my choice.

So…I carefully studied my options and with careful consideration I elected to have robotic surgery at Johns Hopkins – top rated for male urology.  I don’t regret that decision.

For those reading – as a point of reference – my PSA at diagnosis was 4.58 and my Gleason Score was 6.  The cancer – so said the surgeon and pathologist – was confined to the prostate.  Good news immediately after surgery.  I should be cancer free for the rest of my life.  That was my mindset and has been till I got the life insurance rejection call.

BACK TO TODAY

Guess I need to follow my own advice – take control of my health care.

Step One – get my PSA tested and get my medical records from 2005 forward.  Sounds simple enough – not!  Getting my current PSA – not a big problem.  Call my local internist, schedule the lab work and wait on the results.  Likewise, getting my current records from my local doc since 2009 – piece of cake.  Getting records from my prior doc from 2005 through 2008 – different story.

Calling to my former Texas doctor was a bit unnerving.  “Are you a physician calling for a patient’s records,” the person I was connected with asked.

“No, I am the patient.”

“I see well that will take some time and there is a charge.”

“Let me get this straight, if I were a doctor requesting records there would be no charge and it would be quicker, but since you are sending them directly to the patient, it costs and takes longer?”

“That’s correct.”

My response – “Well that just messed up!  Send them anyway as I want to see them and evaluate them myself.”

Without going into too much detail…I was amazed that getting something as simple as medical records was such an ordeal.  Seems that sending a patient his or her records should just be a right without charge.  Oh well…guess not.

PSA RESULTS

From 2005 through 2008 my PSA was undetectable.  Good sign.  (2009 PSA  .197)  (2010  PSA .340)  (2011 PSA  .478)  (2012  PSA .780)  (2013 May PSA .810)  So…looking at the results – I understand why the insurance company made the decision they did.  Rising PSA when you don’t have a prostate means that it was not confined to the prostate and the cancer has returned.  And that sucks!!!

Let me be clear…it would appear that I am not riddled with cancer, but a rising PSA is a clear indication that there is remaining Prostate Cancer in my body.

WHY THIS CHRONICLE?

I believe in transparency.  I believe, also, that I am here to help others.  Women are far more open to talking about their experiences than men.  So perhaps if I take the time to share the reality of my experience with prostate cancer it will open the doors for others to learn and share…and also perhaps being open gives me an opportunity to record the experience so my children can have a greater insight into their dad and his journey.  Either way, whether it helps me or helps others – I am committed to the journal.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME – MORE TO FOLLOW!

https://chuckgallagher.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/when-prostate-cancer-returns-one-mans-chronicle-where-from-here-part-2/

Advertisements

9 Responses to When Prostate Cancer Returns – One Man’s Chronicle – PSA Rising – Part 1

  1. dexterhotel says:

    Reblogged this on dexterhotel and commented:
    I feel very fortunate about having enjoyed the top 1% of health wellness there is up to this point. Moving forward, prostrate cancer among men is something I follow. This post is from Chuck Gallagher, prostrate cancer survivor. You may find it as interesting as I do.

  2. skrohn215 says:

    Thank you so much for this outstanding piece of writing. Your transparency is respected and impressive at the same time. Your journey sounds like a tough road to take, but your attitude seems to be in the right place. I know that your hope and attitude can carry you though alot and help the human spiit.

    I think you’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people that read this. The lesson is that despite feeling as healthy as an ox, it is still important to get a physical once per year. As you found out, you just never know when it comes to your health.

  3. […] When Prostate Cancer Returns – One Man’s Chronicle – PSA Rising – Part 1. […]

  4. […] When Prostate Cancer Returns – One Man’s Chronicle – PSA Rising – Part 1. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: