Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Not for the faint of heart

I'm not sure how to start this...
I'm about to reveal a very personal story of what has been happening to me over the last week or so. This is not a running story but rather a tale of my recent medical treatment and is aimed directly at my family and my two sons in particular. Part of the reason that I keep up my blog is because I know that my 3 children (who are all away from home) as well as friends and relatives read it and it helps them to keep up with my goings on. It's also fun to share my little running adventures with my many (10?) other readers most of whom I've never met and probably won't (but would like to).

The short story:
I have/had prostate cancer. It was diagnosed early and I underwent major surgery (radical prostatectomy) on May 8 that was intended to remove all of the cancer. I say 'had' cancer but you never know for sure and only time will tell. My wonderful surgeon Dr. Scott Bagnell was very positive about the outcome and that's all we can say right now but no further treatment is planned (radiation/chemo). I am now home resting comfortably in recovery with a minimum of 6 weeks with no lifting of more than 5 lb (2 kg) and no running. I'm walking around, feeling stronger every day (it felt like getting run over) and have some expected soreness and tiredness but otherwise am feeling great.

The longer story:
Prostate cancer is very common in my close family with my grandfather (age 72), father (age 71 ) and several uncles on my father's side dying as a result of it in their 60's and 70's+. I also have one cousin on my mothers side who went through the same thing as me at the same age (early 50ies). As a result, I have been proactive with my health by having annual physicals which include prostate exams and blood tests for my PSA levels since I was 45. The result from my blood test last fall showed that my PSA level had increased steeply over the previous year from 2.3 to 3.2 although it was still in the normal range of 0-4 for my age. Because of my family history a followup with the urologist was scheduled with a consult on Dec. 26 and a biopsy on Jan. 20th.

On Feb. 6, 2009 I received the diagnosis of prostate cancer with a Gleason Grade of 6/10 at stage T2 - indicating early diagnosis with apparent confinement to the prostate organ alone.

On Feb. 8, after having a few days to absorb the news Joanne and I again met with Dr. Bagnell to discuss treatment options and timing. Since the cancer was caught early at stage T2 the surgery option was considered the best but because this appeared to be a slow growing form of cancer there was no immediate urgency. My only concern (after realizing I wasn't getting a death sentence) was whether I could run Boston in just 10 weeks. While Jo was not very keen on this idea the doctor allowed that it was not an unreasonable thing to do given all the variables but still no guarantee of course. However, the surgery needed to be scheduled ASAP after Boston with a few weeks of rest from the race.

On April 2oth, I ran my 10th Boston in a time of 3:33 and had a blast!

Two weeks later on Friday, May 8th I had nerve sparing prostate surgery and things went extremely well and I wasn't even nervous! [joke for A]. There were no complications and I don't remember a thing for the 2.5 hours. Some surrounding lymph nodes were also removed for testing to ensure the cancer had not spread but these results won't be known for several weeks.
  • This surgery is a one-time procedure.
  • As the whole prostate is removed, it potentially removes all cancer cells.
  • The operation has a long history of use, and many surgeons and medical centres specialize in the technique.
  • Follow-up procedures are well established, and the results of the surgery are relatively easy to monitor through PSA testing.
  • If cancer is left behind, other localized treatments, such as radiation, are available.
  • Many specialists believe that the radical prostatectomy offers the best chance of long-term survival for a man with localized prostate cancer.
I was released from the hospital on Monday (3 days later) and am now home resting comfortably for awhile with lots of time on my hands.

The not for the faint of heart part:
I even took some pictures of my scar for posterity because I like to take pictures of just about everything but am reluctant to scare/shock you with the image directly here on my blog. Instead if you'd like to see the damage done to me you can see it by clicking here. Be warned if you have an aversion to such things but I thought it was a rather nice scar. The nurses seem to like the workmanship. It's healing very nicely and the staples come out tomorrow and I'm not looking forward to the home care nurse ripping off the clear protective bandage for a 3rd time. Ouch!!

I'm running out of steam on this 1st post but want to remind the guys out there and the gals with guys to remind them to get PSA tested once you reach the 40's and 50's depending on your family history. It's just a blood test and then you have a baseline to compare it to in coming years. Talk to your doctor and be proactive about your health. I was and I'm glad I was!

Time for a little nap now, still recovering and I get tired easily. They say this will take several months but it's only been 6 days so far. Thanks for listening and have a nice week!


Deb said...

Mike, thanks for sharing your story. Everyone needs to be aware and take care of themselves by getting checked out regularly etc. I'm glad your doctor is very positive about everything, as are you! I hope your recovery goes well. Take care of yourself!

Thomas said...

That's quite the scar! I bet you could scare anyone with that.

I'm so glad the operation was successful; I have been thinking about you. I hope you can stand 6 running free weeks without going bonkers (and without driving your wife up the wall).

All the best, and may the training for Cape Cod go well. That's a very worthy target!

bricey said...

Mike, wishing you a quick and full recovery. Your story is a reminder to all of us how important it is to get a checkup. Thanks for sharing.

Andrew said...

Mike, so glad you are home. I called the hospital but nobody answered at the nurse's station and the phone in your room wasn't receiving calls. So naturally, I figured you had misbehaved and they had cut your phone line and had you under close supervision.

Get well and let me know if your up to spray painting some pavement for the Cobscook 10k.

Vince A. said...

Well then there is no doubt you'll have to go back to Boston next year.

UMaine Cooperative Extension said...

Mike - Very happy to hear that all went well and you are home resting. Weather should be getting good enough that you can sit out and enjoy the garden and pointing out the weeds that Jo missed (haha).

Nice scar! Something to show the women when you run your next marathon.

Unknown said...

First of all, it's great to hear you are recovering. I am someone who's family history is also full of prostate cancer. My father went through treatment for it more than a year ago and has fully recovered from it. I'm sure you will as well. It's great that you are helping to get the word out about this disease. Too many men die needlessly from it. Best wishes on your full recovery.

Chrispy said...

Wow! Quite the scar, Dad! I know I won't hesitate to get checked out regularly.

Wishing you a good recovery!

A. Power said...

Hope you have a speedy recovery!

Grellan said...

Mike, Glad to hear everything went well. The scar is bigger than I would have though but neat stitching all the same. Early diagnosis is key. Thanks for th advice.

The founder of the running club i'm in had the operation last year and returned to running after a relatively short break. He has put a relay team together for the Cork marathon consisting of cancer survivors. (I think he's got 2 testicular and 3 prostrate).

Recover well and look after yourself.

DawnB said...

Mike, I was stun to hear your story . Thank you for sharing. You have shown me what courage is. Here's to a full recovery.

Trevor said...

Best of luck in your recovery, and thanks for sharing such a personal story. It was an educational and important post.

Ewen said...

Thanks Mike. A timely reminder for those in their 50s (and older).

Best wishes for a full recovery. Amazing Boston run!

Mark Bell said...

not about to look at scary scar photos, glad to hear all went well and sorry to hear of this predicament
All the best to you and your family. God Bless

Dubs said...

Wow! That is a lot to have on your plate. Please let us know when you get the results. You are in my thoughts & prayers. The scar does look good, I bet it heals nicely.

Thanks so much for the info on the PSA test. I will share w/my husband.

You gave your family quite a gift by being so proactive & catching it so early.

Praying you are cancer free!!

Michael said...

Hey Mike, all the best with your recovery. For what it's worth, Ally and I are thinking of you.

Ms. V. said...

Wow. That is one. cool. scar.

I so appreciate the time you took to donate to TNT, and I will be watching your progress with interest.

gumushel said...

Hey Mike,
All the best with your recovery. Hope you are feeling better soon and back on the trail to Boston!

JojaJogger said...

Excellent looking scar. Please take it easy during your recovery so you get all healed up and back on the road.

chris mcpeake said...

So glad that you caught it early. My father went through the same thing but unfortunately they found it too late and it had already spread. Take care on your recovery... you will be back running in no time at all.

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