The Importance of PSA Testing

Several weeks ago the major news networks reported that men should consider not being tested for increased PSA levels.  The reason given was that the side effects of a Prostate Cancer diagnosis and treatments were worse than the disease.  From my own experience, I have to say that this is very poor advice.  The real issue that many urologists just recommend limited options including surgery and standard IMRT radiation.  Other options may be mentioned and are not highlighted.

It is very important for middle-aged men to have regular physical examinations. Men should have their PSA levels tested and also a DRE (Digital Rectal Examination).  If PSA levels or the DRE indicate at the visit to the Urologist is in order, be sure to follow-up.  The PSA level may affect the doctor’s decision to order a biopsy.  In my case, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer after my blood work showed an elevated PSA level and after a biopsy.

The book “Prostate Cancer for Dummies” provides a very good overview about prostate cancer.  It states that: “The PSA test helps your doctor identify the possible presence of prostate cancer by checking for prostate specific antigen which is present in high levels in many people who have prostate cancer.”

For men, a normal range is generally considered to be 4 nanograms per milliliter or lower.  

PSA velocity should also be taken into account. The book also states that “If your PSA level was 1 last year and it’s now 2.4, your doctor has cause for concern.” This was true in my case since my PSA level had increased over the course of 18 months.

The key points for middle age men are to get checked regularly.  If diagnosed with prostate cancer, be sure to carefully ask questions and review your options prior to making any treatment decisions.

The treatment option that I selected was Proton Therapy.  My research found that with proton therapy, tumors are more precisely targeted while reducing the amount of radiation to healthy tissue.  This minimizes the unpleasant side effect associated with surgery or conventional radiation.  I had an excellent experience at the UF Proton Institute in Jacksonville, FL.

For more information about Proton Therapy and the UF Proton Institute visit:www.floridaproton.org

 For infomation about Livestrong go to:

www.livestrong.org

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A One Month Update

Well, it’s been one month since I have returned from Jacksonville and the UF Proton Institute.  I continue to feel great and have no real side effects from my 8 weeks of treatment.  I did experience some urinary discomfort during and after my treatment. I have been taking over the counter Alive which has worked pretty well.  Right now, that very small side effect has completely gone away.

I continue to work out and have started a weight loss program.  I have actually lost 10 pounds with more to come off in the next few months.  This week we are office to attend our Home Instead Senior Care Franchise Convention in Omaha, Nebraska.  Next week when I return, I plan to step up my physical training as well as fundraising for The Lance Armstrong Livestrong Foundation.

The key point for men to remember is to get an annual physical.  If you are middle aged, be sure to check  to come off in the next few months.  This week we are office to attend our Home Instead Senior Care Franchise Convention in Omaha, Nebraska.  Next week when I return, I plan to step up my physical training as well as fundraising for The Lance Armstrong Livestrong Foundation.

The key point for men to remember is to get an annual physical.  If you are middle aged, be sure to check your PSA Levels each and every year.  If you are diagnosed, be sure to explore all of your options including Proton Therapy.  I had an exceptional experience at the UF Proton Institute in Jacksonville, FL.  Universally, Urologists did not share information about this option.  It deserves consideration.  Here are the pros and cons of Proton Therapy from Robert Marckini’s book “You can Beat Prostate Cancer and You Don’t Need Surgery To Do It”:

Advantages:

  • Cure rate are comparable to surgery and radiation.
  • No hospitalization is required; there is no pain, no blood loss, no trauma, and zero recuperation time.
  • Incontinence from this procedure is practically unheard of. The reported statistic is significantly less than 1%.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires 8 Weeks of treatment, five days a week.
  • Approximately 35% of the men treated report some changes in sexual potency.
  • More expensive than other options.  A small number of medical insurance providers still refuse to reimburse for proton therapy, resulting in some patients having to pay out of pocket.

Livestrong Everyone!!!

Here are a few resources:

UF Proton Institute:  www.floridaproton.org

The Lance Armstrong Foundation: www.livestrong.org

Robert Marckini’s web site: www.protonbob.com

My Radiation Vacation

It is actually with mixed emotions that I end my Prostate Cancer Treatments. I have now completed 38 of my 39 treatments. I continue to feel great and have just completed a 6 mile jog.  Many people refer to the time spent during Proton Treatments as a Radiation Vacation. Since most patients have no or very minimal side effects and many travel from out-of-state, everyone has a relaxed and active time away from regular routines.

I prefer to say that my time at the UF Proton Institute has been a time of renewal, refreshment and healing. The entire environment from beginning to end creates a very positive experience. Special Thanks to the entire staff of the UF Proton Institute for all they have done.  I can’t say enough about the Doctors, Nurses and especially the Therapists who treated me every day. I will be forever grateful for what they have done for me.

The worst part of the treatments is the natural Cranberry Juice that I drank each day.  I did experience some urinary discomfort which was minimized my over the counter Aleve.  I become Bladder Aware due to the large amount of water that I drank each day.  Planning restroom stops became a part of everyday life.

On my last day I will have a blood test which will provide a baseline for my PSA. Every three months I will go for an additional PSA test. I am looking forward to the results which will show that the Protons have blasted the cancer cells smithereens!!!!

I am continuing to get into shape and I started a weight loss program today. I was unable to lose any weight during my treatments. I plan is to continue to support the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation while competing in several endurance events. My next event will be a 30 mile bike ride in May.

I will continue to blog in order to promote prostate cancer awareness and help spread the word about Proton Therapy. I have learned that when you are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer to ask questions and do research in order to select the treatment option that is correct for you. The choice of care is a very personal one that everyone must decide. One constant is the doctors rarely offered Proton Treatment to the patients that I met along the way.

To all men – Get Tested and pay attention to PSA Levels.

Be sure to visit the following sites:

 

 

My Proton Treatments – No Side Effects!!!!

I now have exactly one week and six treatments to go until I finish my 39 Proton Treatments at the UF Proton Institute here in Jacksonville, FL.  The tag line for the UF Proton Institute is “Harder on Cancer, Easier on You”. For me, this is a reality.   As I finish my treatments I continue to feel great and have no side effects at all.

From Monday through Friday I go over to the Proton Institute for my treatment. Each treatment take only 10-15 minutes. I am in and out of the Proton Institue in less than an hour each day.  I have been consuming 114 oz of water each day.  This serves a key purpose regarding hydration. While receiving my treatments it is important to have a full bladder. With proper hydration, the 16 oz of water that I drink prior to each treatment fills my bladder in about 20 minutes.  This serves decrease the area of the bladder that is affected by the Proton Treatment. It also helps to hold the prostate in place during my treatments.

The other part of my treatment is the “Balloon”.  The Balloon is inserted into the rectum and inflated in order to help keep the prostate in place during treatments. It actually sounds a lot worse than it is.  Our support group is called BOB which stands for “Brotherhood of the Balloon”

Each day it also consume 8 oz of Cranberry Juice.  This is actually the most difficult part of the treatment.  Natural Cranberry Juice is very tart and is rather unpleasant to drink. It does promote urinary health and it has worked for me during the course of my treatments.

I have been working out.  Since completing the 15K Gate River Run several weeks ago, I have been working out for one hour each day.  I either run for six miles {actually wog) or I go to spin class at the YMCA for one hour each day. 

For those diagnosed with Prostate Cancer it is important to ask questions and take time in order to review all of the information gathered. One key constant is that doctors do not recommend Proton Therapy.  I would recommend that every man who is diagnosed with Prostate Cancer at least consider this treatment.  I have only met one patient here at the Proton Institute who heard about Proton Therapy from a urologist or a doctor.

A great resource is a book entitled “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer – And You Don’t Need Surgery to Do it” by Robert J. Marckini.

LIVESTRONG

The Web site for  the UF Proton Center is:

www.floridaproton.org

More information about Robert Marckini’s book can be found at:

www.protonbob.com

My Personal  Livestrong Page is:

http://laf.livestrong.org/site/TR/Challenge/General?px=1015568&pg=personal&fr_id=1182

Finisher

After 27 Proton Treatments I participated in and finished the 2012 Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida.  I continue to feel great and am experiencing no side effects from my proton treatments.  It is actually amazing.  After I was diagnosed, I decided to spend some time in order to get back into shape. When I began my treatment in early February,  I started jogging and spinning every day.  I have been consistent in my workouts and was able to finish the 15K road race.  I was also able to volunteer for two days at the Runners Expo and had a really great time.

Each day I generally spend about one hour at the UF Proton Institute for my treatments. I stay very hydrated and drink approximately 114 oz of water each day.  That’s a lot of water, but I actually feel better since I started drinking water each day.  I plan to continue drinking once I finish my treatments in two weeks.

During my treatments, I am careful to plan my travels in order to be sure to find restrooms as needed. While sometimes an issue, with planning it is not a major problem.  I do drink 4 oz of pure cranberry juice each day. This for me is probably the worst part of my treatment. Cranberry juice is very tart and not pleasant to drink. If this is the worst part of proton treatments I really can’t complain.

As a result of my treatment schedule, I have had plenty of time in order to get in shape. I have not however been able to lose weight during my treatments. Once I return I plan to continue to work out and start a weight loss program.  My goal is to participate in a series of endurance events in order to raise funds for The Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Please consider making a donation to my effort I have listed the website below.  Be sure to get regular physical examinations and watch your PSA levels. If diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, be sure to ask questions and review your options. Visit the website link below for the UF Proton Institute in Jacksonville, FL.

Here is the link The Lance Armstrong Foundation:

http://www.livestrong.org

My Personal Fundraising Page is:

http://laf.livestrong.org/site/TR/Challenge/General?px=1015568&pg=personal&fr_id=1182

The website for the UF Proton Institute is: www.floridaproton.org

 

More Livestrong

It is hard to believe that I now have just 2 ½ weeks of treatment left.  By the end of this week I will have completed 27 treatments with 12 more to go. I am currently feeling great and have absolutely no side effects from the Proton Treatments.  The most amazing this is that I am not unique.  Everyone that I speak with at the UF Proton Institute are receiving the same results. Very minimal or no side effects are the norm.  

Every week Graduates of the Program come and speak about the long-term results.  Everyone has only positive things to report.

I actually discovered this week that only 2% of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer receive Proton Treatment. Two reasons for this are that there are only 9 Proton Centers in the United States. More however are on the way. Doctors do not know about Proton Treatment and they do not offer this alternative to surgery or standard radiation.  Most of the men here found out about this option by word of mouth or the internet. 

If you are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer it is important to review all of your options.  Take your time to gather information before making any decisions.  Proton Therapy is often overlooked. I would recommend a book entitled “You Can Beat Prostate Cancer and You Don’t Need Surgery to Do It” by Robert J. Marckini. The book is a great source of information for men with Prostate Cancer.

On a personal note I am in the process of getting back into physical shape. My goal is to participate in a series of endurance athletic events in order to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  I have seen firsthand the great work they do. The focus is:

  1. Help more people navigate their personal cancer journey.
  2. Provide local support for people affected by cancer.
  3. Expanding access to care.
  4. Passing laws that save lives.

You can help support my effort by visiting my personal fundraising page at:

http://laf.livestrong.org/site/TR/Challenge/General?px=1015568&pg=personal&fr_id=1182

The website for the UF Proton Institute is: www.floridaproton.org

Livestrong

I am now halfway through my Prostate Cancer Treatments at the UF Proton Institute in Jacksonville FL.  I am feeling great with no side effects from my treatments.  I am running, working out and staying active each day.  For me, this is the key benefit of Proton Therapy.  I am going to beat Prostate Cancer without surgery and at the same time minimize both the short term and long term side effect from this disease.

Each year, over 217,000 men are diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.  In addition, over 32,000 men die year as a result of the disease.  It is important for men to get their annual physical examinations and be aware of their PSA levels.  If diagnosed, take your time and review your options.  Be aware that Doctors do not tell you everything.  They recommend surgery, radiation and mention a few other options.  They will rarely discuss Proton Therapy with their patients.  Here at UF Proton Therapy I have found that this is very common and was certainly true in my case.  Visit www.floridaproton.org for more details and information about the UF Proton Institute.  If you have been diagnosed, you have to take a close look at this option.

One of my key goals was to get back into physical shape. In the past I have raised funds for the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society as a member of the Team In Training Program.  My goal is to get back into shape so I could once again participate in long distance athletic events.

One of the first things that I need to do is lose some weight.  As a stress eater, I have been gaining weight since I was diagnosed.  Unfortunately I cannot do anything about this issue for now.  It is important that I maintain my current weight while I am undergoing my proton treatments.  With only 4 more weeks to go I will start dealing with that issue in April.

While in Jacksonville for the past month, I have been working on two main fitness goals.  First is to start jogging once again.  I registered for the Gate River Run on March 10 and set out to train for this event.  I had been having issues with knee pain while jogging. Prior to starting my treatments, I visited my podiatrist and had my orthotics adjusted.  The good news is that the adjustment worked and I am now jogging without any knee issues. 

For the past 10 years I have used the Jeff Galloway training method in order to train for running events.   As a side note, while I lived in Atlanta, Jeff Galloway would join our Saturday Runs on a regular basis. He is a great guy who helps many people achieve their fitness goals.

This is a run walk program that works for me.  I run for 2, 3 or 4 minutes with one minute walk breaks.  This is a great program for anyone who would like to jog or run injury free.  I use an I Pod shuffle with the Jeff Galloway Program downloaded.  My jogging time goes by fast and I am getting good results.  You can find more information about the Galloway method at www.jeffgalloway.com .

The second thing that I did was join the YMCA in Jacksonville. The UF Proton Institute has an offer for patients to join the YMCA at a discount while having treatments.  I enjoy cycling and have trained in the past by participating in spinning Cclasses. I have been spinning 3 times a week and have already seen an increase in my performance levels.

My goals are to participate in a series of different athletic events in the coming year in order to raise awareness about Prostate Cancer and raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Livestrong Foundation.  You can find more information about Livestrong at:  www.livestrong.org .  My personal foundation page address is:   http://laf.livestrong.org/site/TR/Challenge/General?px=1015568&pg=personal&fr_id=1182  Please consider supporting my effort by making a donation today.