Tuesday, December 30, 2008

6 Month Update: Happy New Year!

I cannot believe its been six months since my surgery. It seems so long ago. Even though it was one of the darkest moments of my life when I found out about the cancer, it has really changed my life in such a positive way. First, I wouldn't have started this blog and met people from all over the world. I truly appreciate all the emails/posts of encouragement that I have received and also continue to pray for those who have just been diagnosed. You all have helped in my recovery along with great family support. I know I sound repetitive but I really do appreciate everyone. Second, I wouldn't have met the great folks at Athletes for a Cure (Prostate Cancer Foundation). Scott (Executive Director), Greta, Ryan and Bobbi have been so supportive in my efforts to do my first Triathlon. I was so inspired when we volunteered at the 1st annual Athletes for a Cure Triathlon at Walt Disney World in September that it changed my life and now I can run 3 miles now without a problem. Also, Santa brought me my new road bike so I could train for my first Triathlon in April. In fact the day after Christmas I ran 2.5 miles then biked for 4 miles. Before now, I had never ran more than 50 feet without passing out.

I will be registering my Triathlon to raise money for the Athletes for a Cure (Prostate Cancer Foundation) and post that information in the coming weeks. I would appreciate your support and look forward to completing my first Triathlon and raising money for the cause.

As far as my progress in 6 months, I am feeling great (as you can tell). I have minimal issues with incontinence which means I am 99.5% back to normal. My male functions continue to show signs of improvement which is good at the 6 month mark. I have so much more energy now and feel great about life! I really appreciate all my blessings. I am really looking forward to 2009 and continuing to raise awareness and money for Prostate Cancer and Prostate Cancer research.

Please keep those emails and posts coming!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 "The Year I Started Living"

I wanted to give you an update on my progress before the holidays. First, I am on cloud nine tonight because my trainer, Amber Toole and myself ran 3.4 miles (34:29) this evening. Prior to that the longest distance I have run in my training was 2.7 miles last week. This means I completed the first 5k+ of my life!!! If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that I would have ran that far I would have told you that you were crazy! My first official 5k race is February 1st at the Ocala Marathon - 5k. I am very excited to complete my first goal of finishing my first official 5k race. I am feeling really well and functions continue to make slight improvement and I have asked Santa for a new bike for Christmas that I will use to complete in my first Triathlon in April, I have tried my best to be a good boy this year!

To everyone following my progress or reading this for the first time, I wanted to wish you a Happy and Safe Holiday Season! Make sure you take the time out of the hustle and bustle to remember the real reason for Christmas. I pray that God will bless each of you who were just diagnosed with Prostate Cancer along with your family, those who are going through a treatment process, all the survivors, and all the families who have lost someone to this disease. I think about you often and promise that I will do all I can to help in this fight!

I am closing the book on 2008, what a year it was for me. I will always remember this season in my life. It was the year I thought my life was over, but it turned out to be the year I started living! I am looking forward to a GREAT 2009, lets go raise some money to fight this disease! Happy New Year!

Keep the Faith, Life is Good!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

5 Month Update "Hero's of Prostate Cancer"

Well the month of November has come to a close and its been 5 months since my surgery. It seems so long ago but I have definitely not forgotten. My family and writing this blog has been a huge source of strength for me. Receiving emails from people around the world, meeting the faces of Prostate Cancer and meeting hero's like Winter Vinecki and Team Winter who are doing such an incredible job raising money for research and creating awareness for this disease. Winter Vinecki (who I wrote about in my previous blogs) has won the 2008 Web MD Health Hero Award. That is an incredible honor and I wanted to congratulate her on the job she is doing, being a 9 year old and taking on this challenge is incredible. Michael her father has been in a tough battle with Prostate Cancer for a while now and I know Winter and the support of his wife and children along with the outpouring of support from people around the world have been a source of strength for him. I personally will continue to pray for him and his family as he continues forward. To read about "Michael's Journey" look at my blog list and click on the "Michael's Journey" link.

In the month of November I turned 42 and was especially thankful during the Thanksgiving holiday this year. We spent time with my family in the smoky mountains and I was thankful we could all be together for another year. I have a lot to be thankful for overall in my life, my incontinence in about 98% better now and I am showing encouraging signs of recovery of my male functions. I have to again stress patience here, the doctor says the average recovery is about 24 months to 48 months. Thank you all again for your support and "Keep the Faith" Life is Good!

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Training Milestone

I just had to post a training milestone that I have never accomplished in my life. If you have read through my blog you know that I am training for a 5k race in February, the first of my life, and also a sprint triathlon in the April time frame. I was inspired to do this to help in my healing and to also let others know that you can come through this and do anything you want to if you have a positive attitude. I have never been in good shape in fact I don't think I have even ran a mile since elementary school. Well this morning I ran 2 miles non stop in 24 minutes 40 seconds. I have been using the program "Couch to a 5k" to help get me to this point. Sorry for my excitement, but if you told me 20 weeks ago that I would have reached this milestone then I would have told you that you were crazy. Keep the faith, Life is Good!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

20 Week Update - "Make A Difference"

I have mixed emotions about the 20 week anniversary since my surgery. First, It seems so surreal, I feel like I was dreaming and It actually didn't happen but when I look in the mirror I have a few little reminders that keep it fresh in my mind. I like to be reminded because it has really defined me as a person and given me the strong will to help others affected by prostate cancer. I am touched by the emails I have received since I created the blog and by the youth of the people affected. It confirms to me that this is not an "older persons" disease. The more of us who come forward the more lives we can save. We truly can band together and make a difference in this world. If you are reading this blog and were diagnosed or if your a survivor I challenge you to step up and make a difference. There are so many ways you can help in the fight. The are many great organizations that you can participate in such as the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Athletes for a Cure. I am training for a triathlon in the first quarter next year but I am also going to run a 5k race in the Ocala Marathon in February. I am going to register it with Athletes for a Cure and raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. You can read more on the great things the foundation is doing and already done to help find a cure at their web site, http://www.pcf.org/ . I will post information on how to make a donation for my 5k once I register. Also, I met one of the folks in person that I met through my blog this past weekend. He is a super nice guy and was about 6 weeks behind me from his surgery. He is doing very well and will be running a 5k race in a few weeks. It felt so good to see how well he looked and appreciated him making the effort to meet up with me. Meeting great people like this confirms to me that the fight is worth the effort. I am very blessed to be here today and thank God for the opportunity to live life to its fullness. Please join me and lets "Make A Difference" together.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

17 Week Update "Life is Normal"

Well, its been 17 weeks since my surgery and life is getting as close to normal as it can get. My incontinence is just about gone and it seems like it was years ago since the surgery. I am feeling better now than I have ever felt in my life. Life at work is back to normal, I have been on business trips to Atlanta, GA, Denver CO and Washington DC in the past 4 weeks and had no issues. I am in my 4th week of training for a sprint triathlon in the first quarter of 2009 and doing very well. My endurance increases each week and I am really enjoying the workouts. I start training in the pool tomorrow and will be adding the bike in the next few weeks. My wife and I hosted a Halloween pirate theme party at our house last weekend and had about 30 people over. I decorated the house with a pirate theme and everyone dressed up as pirates. We had a blast and everyone looked great. I carried the pirate theme over and created a haunted pirate graveyard in most of the downstairs for the trick or treaters on Halloween night. We did one last year and it was great. My son and I had a blast together creating the props and I was impressed with his creativity. My wife and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on October 19th. We didn't do much, just all hung out together as a family. We are doing our anniversary celebration this weekend by attending the Florida vs Georgia football game in Jacksonville, FL and then staying in St Augustine, FL a few nights afterwards. St Augustine is one of my favorite cities in Florida. As you can see my life is back to normal. For those of you around the world that are reading my blog and communicating with me, I want you to know that being diagnosed is not the end of the world. You have so many choices now that can save your life. I thank God everyday for another opportunity to breathe and for the renewed perspective on life. Whether you have just been diagnosed or your going through your treatment I want you to know that I care about each of you and know what your going through. Don't be afraid to share your story. The more of us who speak up about this disease the more awareness we create and the more lives we can save. Hang in there, Life really is good! And for those of you who haven't been proactive in your screening now is the time to make that appointment. It could save your life!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Conquer Prostate Cancer "The Book"

I wanted to share with everyone a book that was released on October 16th named "Conquer Prostate Cancer" by Rabbi Ed Weinsberg with Dr. Robert Carey and Dr. David Cauder. Rabbi Ed found my blog several weeks ago and asked if he could use my blog as bonus material when you order his book. I gladly volunteered my blog so that it may touch others to infinity and beyond. The book is an account of Rabbi Ed and his wife's experience with Prostate Cancer and the options he chose as a treatment. His Doctor even has an account in the book as well. I must say that once I started reading this book I could not put it down. It touched me through and through and I wish I had a book like this when I first found out that I had prostate cancer. It does a great job of laying out treatment options and side effects. Rabbi Ed did a wonderful job and I appreciate him being so open and honest with his own personal story it truly touched me. I do not receive any proceeds for using my blog with the book and highly recommend it if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Life is Good!

Here are some important links:

Conquer Prostate Cancer - the book
Direct link to the book's page on Amazon.com
Conquer Prostate Cancer Now -- the blog

Thursday, October 9, 2008

15 Week Update - The Checkups

Its hard to believe that next Monday it will be 15 weeks since my surgery. It has gone by so fast and some days it doesn't feel like it even happened. In my 14th week I had to follow-up doctor appointments. These are the first since I had the catheter removed 12 weeks ago. The first appointment was with my family physician. She is the PA (Physicians Assistant) in the office and is very smart. She went over the results of my blood test with me, which turned out to be great. My cholesterol, triglycerides numbers were are in the normal range and my health overall is better than it was before I had surgery. She even gave me permission to train for a 3k run and sprint triathlon. I left with a big smile on my face! My second appointment was with my surgeon, Dr. Parekettil. He was very pleased with my progress and gave me some new medications to try for my male functions while they are healing. He reminded me that it takes patience in this area as the healing process continues. My incontinence is just about gone (97% normal) and I am close to being back to normal. He also said my PSA was untraceable which was again confirmation that I am cancer-free. Thank God! Before I left he also gave me permission to train for my events as well and said I didn't have to come back and see him for 6 months. That was great news considering they usually make you come back every 3 months for the first year. I am now off to train for a 3k run and then on the the sprint triathlon. I have been training for a few weeks now and am getting stronger. I have really enjoyed the training and feel better physically than I have most of my life. My message to everyone is to never give up, have faith and be positive because we have so much to be thankful for. Life is Good!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

12 Week Update - Athletes for a Cure Triathlon

Its hard to believe that 12 weeks have passed since my surgery, it seems like years ago. I am doing very well now and traveled to Atlanta last week on business. That was my first trip since my surgery and it was great seeing some of my team and the folks I have worked with for years in Atlanta. The support was overwhelming and I am so thankful for my team and all the folks at work that gave me encouragement while I was there. I am traveling to Denver, CO next week and look forward to seeing the remainder of the team while I am there. My incontinence is nearly gone and I am using less that one pad per day. Staying persistent with my kegal exercises has helped improve my results dramatically. My male functions are improving and I am ahead of schedule. Prayer and patience is the key here.

This past weekend Peggy and I traveled to Orlando, FL to volunteer at the "Athletes for a Cure Triathlon" (Prostate Cancer Foundation) at Walt Disney World, Fort Wilderness. First, let me say how awesome it was to have Peggy with my for support. She has been my rock through this experience and I really appreciate her. She is my best friend and I love her with all my heart! It was great weather for the event and we met a lot a great people. As you have read in my previous blogs, Lori and Michael Bredemeier were to compete in the triathlon to raise money and awareness for this disease. Due to an injury Lori was unable to compete in the event so she made Michael go at it alone. He did a great job finishing the event and I am not sure how he was still standing after the 1 mile swim, 28 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run. I really appreciate Michael and Lori taking donations for the foundation in support of me. I wish there were more people like them in this world. I also want to thank once again all those people who donated money to the foundation in my honor. It means a lot and will go for a great cause. We met some really inspiring people this weekend. There was a man who was 64 years old who has survived 6 different types of cancer including prostate cancer 2 years ago that completed the triathlon. What an inspiration he was. There was also 9 year old Winter Vinecki, (pictured below) her father Michael was diagnosed with a rare form of prostate cancer at age 40 and was heading in for his 9th surgery after the event. I had a chance to meet him over the weekend and all I can remember is his upbeat attitude and constant smiling, he was a true inspiration. His wife also competed and completed the triathlon as well. His daughter Winter raised over $31,000 of the $100,000 raised from the event to for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Winter competed in the children's duathlon on Saturday and competed and completed the Triathlon on Sunday. She is an amazing kid. I also met several other guys who were in there late 30's and early 40's that are survivors. These guys had robotic surgery like me and it was great to hear that all of their functions are now normal. We all have the same goal: How can we change the face of this disease? It's not an "older man" disease anymore. This weekend was so inspiring, talking to the survivors and seeing all the athletes compete. I was truly touched and have committed to competing in a sprint Triathlon next year so I can raise money as well. I will leave you with one assignment, take time today to hug your family members and tell them how much you love them, Life is Good!

Pictures from the Event:

Michael & Lori Bredemeier

Michael just completed the triathlon, their team raised $3,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation

Winter Vinecki (9years old)

She raised over $31,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and completed the childrens duathlon and triathlon (1 mile swim, 28 bike, 6.2 run), amazing!

Athletes for a Cure Booth

The Volunteer Crew (Left to Right)
Emily, Bobbi (event coordinator), Peggy (wife) and Jan (fellow AT&T employee)

Darren, not seen...taking the picture

Also not pictured is Ryan Link, he was the Project Manager (Athletes for a Cure) for the event and I appreciate his support, the event was great!

Darren (Me) and Lori Bredemeier

Lori is my fellow co-worker who helped raise money in support of me when she found out I was diagnosed.

We are patiently waiting for Michael to finish the event.

Monday, September 8, 2008

PSA Results

I received great news today, my PSA test was less than 0.1 which confirms that I am cancer free (AWESOME) after my surgery. I thank God for each day and especially today. I will continue my close screening in the next 3 months and in the coming years, but I am thankful for my healing. It has been an incredible journey but I am a much stronger person as a result. My continued mission is to help others who may have just found out they have this disease and also educate men on the importance of proactive screening, because it could save your life!

My wife and I will be in Orlando, FL in two weeks volunteering at the "Athletes for a Cure" Triathlon (Prostate Cancer Foundation) Event. I will be taking pictures and will blog my experience. It's great to see the athletes working hard to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. If you would like to help in the fight against Prostate Cancer, please go to the link below. Your help is greatly appreciated! I am seriously considering training for this event for next year..."If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right"...Henry Ford

Keep the faith and don't ever give up!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

10 Week Update - "First PSA, Ocala Magazine"

Its hard to believe it but tomorrow will be 10 weeks since my surgery. I am a little nervous for Monday to come because I should get the results of my first PSA test since my surgery. I do feel very confident that the results will come back negative especially since I got a good report on the final pathology report, but there is something about waiting for that first confirmation. Its like having a small monkey on your back, its not to heavy but you can feel it there. I'm thankful I am on the backside of this journey and look forward to a long life ahead. I will post the results as soon as I find out. Thanks again for all emails, thoughts, and prayers, I am truly blessed to have such great support, it has been a source of strength for me throughout this journey.

I also wanted everyone to know that the September issue of "Ocala Magazine" has printed an article on my blog. The article turned out great and they also included some other great information as well. If you would like to view the article online go to www.ocalamagazine.com and click on "This Months Features" and scroll down to "Pulse". Please share with others, its my mission to educate others about proactive screening for early detection.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

9 Week Update "Life is Good"

It's hard to believe that 9 weeks have passed since my surgery. In fact, it doesn't seem like I went through the surgery and all the stress associated with prostate cancer. My life is almost completely normal at this point. I am exercising on a regular basis without any pain (other than sore muscles) and I am back to work full force and have 4 business trips out of state scheduled in September and October. I have also been having some fun. I hired a fishing guide (Captain Rick Muldrow, out of Yankeetown, FL) about 3 weeks ago and my son and I went saltwater fishing on the flats in Crystal River (Gulf of Mexico). We had a blast and caught about 30 + fish in 4 hours and Tyler caught the biggest fish of the day, a 24" 5lb Red Fish (Shown in picture with Captain Rick), but I caught the most fish and we also caught 4 sting rays. We took the motorhome (we have a permanent RV spot in the Gator RV tailgating lot) up to Gainesville, FL and tailgated at the first Gator football game last weekend and I made it to the end of the 1st quarter and watched the rest of the game from the air conditioned RV. My son sat with me at the game and it was too hot for him so we left. The weekend before, my wife and I went on a trip to Orlando to relax and have some fun. As you can see my life is back to normal, and I am getting better control over my incontinence. I have been doing my kegal exercises (to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles) 30 minutes a day every day and I am only using 1.5 depend guards a day now. On this pace I think I will be close to having full control of the incontinence by the end of October. On the male functions, I am on schedule but this will take time. It could take up to a year to be completely healed, so again, great family support, patience, positive attitude and faith will take me through as it has through my first 9 weeks, "Life is Good".

Monday, August 11, 2008

6 Week Update

Its been 6 weeks since my surgery and wanted to provide an update. I am doing great and am back in full swing at work. I am still walking 2-3 miles 5 times a week with no problems and plan on walking further in the coming weeks. I took a working vacation last week and went to Georgia to see family and drove the motor home over 800 miles without any issues. It was great seeing family we hadn't seen in a while. As far as my incontinence, I still have about 80% control and see a tiny improvement each week. I am only using 3 pads per day. I have an appointment with a local physical therapist next week to work on the pelvic floor muscles so I can make sure I am using the correct technique to strengthen my muscles. The healing process should speed up once I strengthen those muscles. For the male function I am ahead of schedule and am being patient with the healing process. I am feeling very good physically at this point and actually started back with our personal trainer, Amber Toole, today. It was great working out and I think Amber gave me a little break since it was the first time since my surgery. It was very encouraging to make it through the 1 hour workout without any issues. Amber is a great personal trainer and a great person and I really appreciated her support. (Check out her web site http://www.thetrainingtoole.com/ ). I am even considering training (with Ambers help) for next years "Athletes for a Cure Triathlon" at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL to support the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Not sure if I have it in me, but I am motivated for the cause. Without my faith and my great support of my wife and family, I don't think I would be this far along in my recovery. Its great to get up every morning and hear the birds sing and see the sun shining. I have a lot to be thankful for!

Amber Toole and Me after the workout

Friday, July 25, 2008

10 seconds that could save your life

This message is for all the guys out there who are afraid to get a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) as part of their annual physical beginning at age 40. I was one of those guys. My family physician asked me in my annual physical at age 40 if I wanted a DRE and I told him that I would have my urologist do it. I knew that it wouldn't happen because I was not comfortable with a doctor doing the procedure. Since my diagnosis, I have heard this recurring theme from men everywhere. Well obviously I have changed my mind because of my situation. Luckily I was having other symptoms that sent me to the urologist and he performed the DRE as part of the diagnostics. I had no choice to say no. The rest is history. I am now an advocate for the DRE because it was 10 seconds that saved my life. That's right, it only lasted 10 seconds and it was a little uncomfortable, but it's the way they discovered my prostate cancer. (You actually need a biopsy to confirm). The PSA blood test was within normal range and if I had only done the PSA I would still have the cancer in my body today instead of being cured. If I didn't have other issues that caused me to go to the urologist, and followed the American Cancer Society guidelines, which recommend a PSA and DRE at age 50 if you have no prior family history of prostate cancer, I would have given the cancer 9 more years to advance. Finding it at this early age gave me plenty of options rather than waiting. There is some controversy around radical treatment options for prostate cancer, some people say you should wait (watchful waiting) because this type of cancer is slow growing and it could take many years for it to grow. I personally chose the radical prostatectomy (removal) because I could not take the mental anguish of knowing I have cancer in my body. I felt like I didn't want to give the cancer an opportunity to grow and possibly spread outside the prostate. Nobody could guarantee that it wouldn't if I waited. I am also young enough to recover from surgery quicker and have a higher chance of a quicker recovery from the side effects of the surgery. In fact I am seeing a big improvement in my side effects already and it's not quite been 4 weeks since the surgery. I do want to say that every situation is different and you should consult your physician for all your options. In closing I am hoping that all men who read this will understand the importance of getting a physical each year especially starting at age 40 and make sure you include a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) as part of your physical, it's 10 seconds that could save your life.

Here are the screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org

The American Cancer Society believes that doctors should offer the PSA blood test and DRE (digital rectal exam) yearly, beginning at age 50 to men who do not have any major medical problems and can be expected to live at least 10 more years. Men at high risk should begin testing at age 45. Men at high risk include African American men and men who have a close relative (father, brother, or son) who had prostate cancer before age 65.
Men at even higher risk (because they have several close relatives with prostate cancer at an early age) could begin testing at age 40. Depending on the results of the first tests, they might not need more testing until age 45.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

3 Week Update

Well tomorrow will be 3 weeks since my surgery and I wanted to provide an update on how I am feeling. I have had the catheter out since last Tuesday and yesterday I have finally started to feel normal with limited pain. The tightness from the surgery is 98% gone and I am able to walk about 2 miles comfortably. When the catheter came out I didn't have much control of the incontinence which was expected but a little unnerving for a few days as I was adjusting but I am seeing a slight improvement as each day passes. When I coach people at work I always tell folks that you have to have patience with everything you are doing including your goals and I am now getting to practice what I preach. My goal is to get total control over my incontinence quickly but realize that I need to be patient and do what the doctors tell me and trust in God. Other than that I am trying to get back to a normal life, I have started driving a little and start back to work on Monday. It will be nice to get back to a daily routine.

I also wanted to post a picture of me (less 13lbs post-surgery), my surgeon and ARNP. We took this picture last Tuesday. I want to say that my experience at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida was incredible. Through the entire process I had a great experience from people who cared in every department I came in contact and the process ran like a finally tuned machine. I would recommend Shands Urology to everyone. I especially want to thank my doctor and surgeon, Dr. Sijo J. Parekattil, M.D (pictured on the right below). His bed side manner was incredible and I appreciate all the time he took to explain everything to me in detail and terms I could understand, and really appreciate his skill in surgery (I am healing very well!). I am very impressed with him. I could not have been in better hands. I also wanted to thank the ARNP/Robotics Clinics Coordinator, Lisa Meyer. (pictured on the left below) Her compassion, availability and bed side manner are equally impressive and Peggy and I appreciate everything she has done for us during this entire process. Until next time...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Small Setback and Great News!

I made it back from my Tuesday appointment and had a small setback and also received some great news from the final pathology report. First, I had a cystography done at the radiology department to see if I had any leaks from the surgery. (Meaning where they reconnected the uretha tube after removing the prostate) I basically laid down on a flat table while they put the scanner over my abdomen. Then they used my foli catheter to inject some type of contrast into my bladder. They did this until my bladder filled up while watching the monitor for leaks. Unfortunately they found a small leak during the test. This was a small setback because I was not allowed to have the catheter removed until I was healed. I was so looking forward to having it removed today. The doctor said I had to wear it another week. That was a real downer because of the discomfort it has caused. I was also there to talk with the doctor about my final pathology report. This is the final dissection of the entire prostate after its removed to determine the extent of the cancer along with final staging. I soon forgot about the minor setback as the doctor told us that the final report showed no signs of cancer outside of the prostate which meant that I was considered cancer free, a true survivor. When Peggy and I heard these words we both grinned at each other from ear to ear, but of course Peggy wanted the documented proof before we left the office. We both thanked God and nothing else mattered at this point. All those prayers were answered and I am so thankful. Its so hard to describe how this felt thinking back on all the emotional highs and lows we have been through over the past few months, but I have a renewed outlook on life and appreciate every moment. Its a subtle reminder of how short and precious life truly is.

I wanted to post the actual verbiage from the final pathology report for those of you who might be going through this as a comparative:

Gleason Score: 3+3 = 6
Tumor involves the right posterior lobe
Percent of prostate gland involved by tumor = <5%>
Extraprostatic extension: Absent
Margins: Specimens margins free of tumor
Angiolymphatic invasion: Absent
Seminal vesicle invasion: Absent
Pathologic staging: pT2a NX MX
pT2a: Organ confined, Unilateral, involving one-half of 1 lobe or less

To get more information please go to the following links:

Information on Gleason Score:

Information on Stages/Staging of Prostate Cancer:

In the coming weeks I will be going to appointments that include removal of the catheter, and then rehab appointments for incontinence and male sexual function. These updates will not be as detailed, but I will post along with my first PSA test at my 3 months appointment. This is important in follow-up monitoring. Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers over the past few months, it has been uplifting to know how many people care and appreciate each of you!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Week After

Okay its been a week since my surgery and it really wasn't what I expected. Time stood still and the toll of the week has begun to show. I've lost 13lbs which is great but would have liked to lose it on my own terms. I am also looking a little pale. I will be back at the beach when this is over working to fix that!. I have been wearing a catheter for the week and hope it will come out in my Tuesday appointment. This is the source of a lot of pain (bladder spasms), and its affecting my sleep along with the tightness in my abdomen and can only lay one way which is uncomfortable. I haven't slept much the entire week and have moved all over the house looking for a comfortable spot to rest. I am taking so many meds that we have kept the local drug store in business for the remainder of the year. I have 1 antibiotic, 1 anti bladder spasm, 2 stool softeners, and 1 pain killer. Its funny the side effects from some meds counter the other meds, its a delicate balance. I have been doing good walking this week. I have made it down the block several times. It's actually funny because I was too tired to change my catheter bag (to a leg bag to hide) so when I was walking, Peggy would come along and put my bag into a beach bag and walk along side of me. Not sure what the neighbors thought about it, but it was a good "funniest home video" moment. Also I wanted to note ALL the great love and support from my family and friends during the past week. During this week we had my work (leadership team) send a ham from Heavenly Ham and gift certificates from a local ice cream shop, my parents also made homemade vegetable soup and one of my neighbors made home made chicken and dumplings. Doesn't seem like I could lose 13 pounds with all this great cooking, but I had to pace myself and was able to eat a little of each. It really helped Peggy not to have to worry about cooking during this week, she has had her hands full with me and Tyler. I also wanted to say how thankful I am for Peggy and Tyler. Peggy has been so great helping me and has not complained at all. Tyler has also been helping me get around and has made things easier. Thanks again for all the prayers, it has really helped me in this difficult time and its very comforting to know that the prayers are coming from all over the country! Even though this was a tough week I really am starting to feel better and look forward to getting back to normal. I have an appointment on Tuesday to get a "Cystogram" which is basically to see if my urethra tube is healing after the surgery to determine if I can have the catheter removed. I will also get the results of my final pathology report which is the final staging of the cancer. I am praying for great results and will let you know...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Surgery

Well, I can't believe the surgery was last Monday, and today is the following Saturday and my first day with the energy to post something. First let me say how much I appreciate the support and prayers of my family and friends. I am so thankful and overwhelmed about all the support I have received from around the country and especially appreciate all the prayers. It all started Sunday evening when I drank my magnesium citrate at 4:30pm to begin the "clean out" process. Then I received a call around 7pm with a report time for surgery at 6am on Monday (June 30th) to Ambulatory check-in. The drive to the hospital is 45 minutes so we had to leave a few minutes after 5am to park and check-in. I also had to get up even earlier to apply the final clean out medicine so I would have a clean working surface for the doctor ;) It was a tough night sleeping but did manage 4 good hours. The support at the hospital was great. Before I was called back to pre-op I was able to see my wife (she is so awesome!), two sister in-laws, my mom and dad, brother and close family friend. Again, the support was awesome and this helped ease my nerves. I was called back to the pre-op area about 6:15am and put on a great lounging gown and nice shower cap with matching socks and got a bed in room 26 which was one of the famous cloth wall rooms. There were people walking around everywhere and it was loud at times. I was so glad that my wife was with me the entire time in that area and the rest of my family rotated in and out. Listening to all the risk involved with surgery from the anesthesiologist made me a little nervous. It made me think about my 1o year old son and what he would say if I didn't come home. I started to get emotional at this point and they came and gave me something to ease my nerves. It was time to head to the surgery. I remember seeing my wife when I was leaving and also remember talking to my surgeon in the operating room as they were setting up. I asked how his vacation was and that is the last thing I remember until I woke up in post-op. I finally made it to my room around 3pm and had so many visitors waiting, its was very uplifting to see my wife along with family and friends. I was in a little pain, but was in great shape after all the pain meds took effect. I also received some Gator Football Balloons which made me wish football season was here now. The doctor came in at 9:45pm and I was able to sit in a chair while he was there. He had great news about the surgery and said that he was able to spare my nerves and also sent one spot that looked sticky into pathology during the surgery that came back negative. This was all great news. That night in the hospital was pretty rough with people coming in and taking blood, vitals, etc all during the night and the fact that I just had major surgery didn't help either. I felt bad for Peggy as she stayed in the room with me and didn't get any sleep either. A nice PCA tech found her a portable bed around 2am and that helped a little. The next morning the doctor came by at 6am and talked to us about me leaving to go home at 12pm. He did say I would not like him over the next few days and also said something about tough love. That sure peaked my interest and knew I would soon find out. He also asked me to walk around the nurses station at least 4 times before I left that morning. I actually made it 5.5 laps. It was a little tough because of all the tightness, catheter, 2 antibiotics and and IV drip all connected so I looked like a pin cushion walking the halls. For this type of surgery walking, walking and more walking is the key to recovery. They finally discharged me at 3pm and showed us how to take care of the catheter as I have to wear it until the following Tuesday (This is no fun!). I will post my progress during the first week in my next blog. I was very glad to be home...or was I?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Countdown

Well, I wasn't going to post anything until after the surgery but I decided to blog the weeks events before my surgery on Monday. I was hoping to have an uneventful week and should have known that it would be one of the busiest weeks I have ever had in my lifetime! I had two major reviews at work with my VP and the Pre-Op appointment along with trying to finish everything including responding to 400 emails since I will be out for three weeks. The reviews during the week took a lot of my time and went really well, it was a little more stressful this week knowing I will be out a while. I have a great boss and enjoy my job very much so this helped. My pre-op appointment was on Tuesday and had to go and meet with the a lot of folks. They asked my family history, height, weight, blood pressure 3 times, listened to my chest, hit my chest, legs and arms, ran EKG for my heart, Chest x-ray, more history, insurance cards again, sign a liability form in every department (somehow the technology has to make this better), I saw one doctor, one physicians assistant, two nurse practioners, five technicians, one financial consultant, one radiology tech and a very nice shuttle driver who was telling people on the bus where to go and get a job at the hospital. I wish everyone in the world had his great attitude. Back for more, they took blood, more history and told me my pre-surgery instructions, which is a light breakfast on Sunday morning and then the remainder of the day is a liquid diet along with drinking something that will clean me out for surgery. I guess they want the surgeon to have a clean surface to work with (LOL). After a long week of long hours and anticipation its finally the weekend before my surgery. I plan on doing some relaxing things this weekend which include eating solid food on Saturday, going to the movies and NOT working around the house. I am sure my wife will love that one. My last event is going to church on Sunday and being thankful for all the blessings that I have in my life. I am totally ready to move forward. See you on the backside of the surgery.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Scans

On Tuesday June 17th I went up to the Shands Radiology department for a bone scan and CT Pelvic scan to see if the cancer had spread into these areas. From what I have read, prostate cancer can spread to your bones and we wanted to make sure I was clean before my surgery. This was one of the longest days of my life and thank God my wife was with me to lean on. It all started with an appointment in radiology at 9:30am for my bone scan. In this appointment an IV port was put into my arm so they could inject some radioactive material in my arm and I was asked to return at 11:45am for the actual scan. I sat in the lobby with my wife and worked from my laptop on this day to help pass time. I returned at 11:45am and had the bone scan done. Before I left the office I was given a large bottle of a well known drink sports drink (to mask the taste)that had some type of contrast in it that was to prepare me for the pelvic CT scan. I had to drink one cup every 30 minutes up to two hours. At this point I felt sick from the stress of it all and hadn't eat anything since early that morning. We took the shuttle over to the hospital from the medical plaza and reported to radiology in the hospital. Once I drank the last drink around 2:15pm they immediately brought me back for the scan. This scan was interesting because they told me I would feel a warming sensation in my pelvic area and have a metallic taste in my mouth and they were correct on both accounts. I was done with the scan around 2:50pm. Our next mission was to go to Dr Parakettil's office as soon as possible. He was working us in so we could get the actual results of both scans. We were not leaving his office until we knew the results. They took us back to a room around 3:15pm. I was the last patient of the day and he was running really late but we refused to leave. The nurse practitioner (Lisa)was really great, she kept checking on us and found out we hadn't eaten anything and brought us some juice and crackers to hold us over. We sat in this room for a few hours and so many thoughts were running through my head from the earlier bone scan. My wife told me a bible verse that came into her head while we were waiting and I felt a calming peace come into my heart. Finally, Lisa the nurse practitioner came in the room and was able to give some good news on the bone scan, it was negative. My wife asked her to say it again for reassurance. We both looked at each other and grinned from ear to ear. The doctor came in a short while later and told us both scans were negative. That was music to our ears! After a long day it finally ended and we went to Cracker Barrel and had some great comfort food and celebrated a great victory on this day. After all, this means my cancer has not spread outside of my prostate and after the surgery on June 30th, my surgeon says I have up to a 95% chance of being totally cured. When was the last time you heard anyone use the words "cancer" and "cured" in the same sentence? Well my surgery is 1 week and 1 day away. My next blog entry will be several days after the surgery when I get enough strength to blog about that day. I am at peace with my decision and am ready to continue my life's journey.

For more information on Bone Scans please click the following link:

For more information on a CT Pelvic scan please click the following link:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Decision on Treatment

After the research and many prayers I have decided to go with the Robotic Radical Prostatectomy treatment. This means complete removal of my prostate. Being so young, I didn't see any other option than to be agressive in making sure I chose the treatment that gave me the best long term option. Dr Parekattil recommended this treatment to me when he first told me about the prostate cancer and I also talked with my local family PA who had many years of oncology experience and she recommended the same treatment (without knowing what my surgeon recommended). Some of the other options for me seemed like they were buying time rather than having a great chance to be cured if the cancer was contained inside the prostate. I also didn't feel good about some of the newer treatments becuase there was no long term data to support them and I need a more proven long term solution with the best chances to be around to see my grand kids. I also feel great about Dr Parekattil as my surgeon to perform the surgery. He has done over 400 robotic surgeries including over 200 radical prostatatectomy since joining Shands from the Cleveland Clinic in March of 2007. I also like the fact that he had an engineering degree before he was a doctor. I also learned from someone else that he was the co-developer of a nerve sparring technique called ERBE Hemostatic Hydrodissector. To learn more about this technique, please visit his web site below. My only concern about having my prostate removed is the side effects. There are two major side effects caused by the removal of the prostate. These are temporary loss of bladder control and temporary loss of male sexual function. The nerve sparring success is critical in the male sexual function returning becuase the web of nerves on the outside of the prostate act as the communications back to the brain about the male sexual function. Obviously if these are damaged then there would be a breakdown in communications to the brain, thus problems. In doing research and learning about my surgeons success rate I feel very confident that my bladder control will return soon after the surgery and the male functions will return within 3-4 months or so depending on the outcome of the surgery. These side effects are very scary, but I have deep faith that my outcome will be really good. My surgery is scheduled for June 30th at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida and expect to be out of work for 3 weeks. My next milestone is on Tuesday June 17th. I will be having a bone scan and pelvic CT scan just to make sure the cancer has not spread into the bone or outside of the prostate. I will post my results in my next post.

To learn more please go to the following links:

Dr Parekattil's Web Site on Robotic surgery:

Information on the robot being used for the surgery:

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Message to my Wife

I just wanted to take a few moments to talk about my wonderful wife Peggy. Cancer has really effected her life over the years and I am sure her first thought could have been here we go again or why me, but I have to tell you I am the luckiest man alive to have her in my life. She didn't say anything like that, she was so understanding and wanted to do everything she could to reassure me and for that I am so grateful and thankful that God brought her in my life. This October we will be married 17 years and we used to kid around and say "17 loooong years", but know I totally realize that its really "17 short years" and appreciate every second I have with her and my son. She has been my rock for so many years and I love her with all my heart and want everyone to know how precious she is to me and also want her to know that this is only a short journey in our lives together and by faith God will guide us through and we will be stronger as a result. I ask her not to worry because I will be fine, especially because she is by my side and look forward to a long wonderful life together.

With Love,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Treatment Options

This was an overwhelming process at first. I had to do my homework before I made a decision. There were several options, but I had to research each option and look at all pros and cons of each. I used many web sites, also talked to several people who went with different options and went to my local family physician to get her opinion as well. There are newer options that may not be posted below and every person diagnosed with Prostate Cancer should research and review ALL options available and pick an option that is best in your situation. In my next blog I will go over the option that I chose for my situation.

Here are some of the options available for the treatment of Prostate Cancer:

- SURGERY - Radical prostatectomy
Robotic prostatectomy
- Cryotherapy (freezing the prostate)
- External Beam Radiation Therapy
- Proton Beam Therapy
- PRAYER (This can be used with each option)

To see a primer on treatment options please go to the following link:

Inaugural Athletes for a Cure Triathlon to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation

I work with some really great people. When my friend Lori Bredemeier found out that I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer she told me that her family was participating in the inaugural Athletes for a Cure Triathlon that will take place at WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort near Orlando, Florida on September 21, 2008, to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and that she would like to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation in my name. I was very touched and really appreciate her, her husband Michael and sister Jenne Frisby for their participation in the Triathlon that will benefit the fight against Prostate Cancer.

Please go to the "Team Frizbee" web site below to join us in the fight against Prostate Cancer by your donation in my name to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and support Michael, Lori and Jenne's participation in the Triathlon for this great cause!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Results

The morning of Thursday May 29th seemed like just another ordinary day, it was another beautiful Florida morning, the birds were singing and the sun was already shining. I did not realize that on this day my life was about to change forever. My wife took the day off to go with me to my appointment at 11am to find out the results of my biopsy, we both were a little nervous about the possibility but were very optimistic about the results. She drove me to the appointment and we arrived right on time. Time stood still as my appointment time was 11am, but the doctor was running late and I could hear every second tick of the clock on the wall as we waited. We were finally called back around 12pm and waited for 20 more minutes. When Dr. Parekattil came in along with his Nurse Practitioner, Lisa, my heart began to race. After a quick hello, the doctor said the words that nobody ever wants to hear in their lifetime. He said my biopsy came back with a positive result for prostate cancer. Needless to say at this point, I was doing everything I could to not let me emotions explode, I was also doing my best not to make eye contact with my wife because I knew I would lose it. My wife said I turned ghost white after he told me the results. The doctor was just as shocked with my results as we were. It seems that I am an anomaly, being 41 years old, PSA level in the normal range, with a semi-firm prostate with a few nodules and no prior history of prostate cancer in my family. I am not sure if I heard everything the doctor said after hearing the words that you have prostate cancer, but he did explain several treatment options, including hormone therapy, radiation seeds, newer therapies and robotic radical prostatectomy. My actual pathology report came back showing out of the 12 biopsies that 2 of the quadrants both on the right of my prostate came back positive for cancer and I had a Gleason score of 6 (See link below for information on Gleason Score). A Gleason score of 6 was better news for me as it wasn't in aggressive category, it was in the intermediate category. Also, my staging score was between a T2 and T2a according to my doctor (See link to below for information on stage/staging system). I asked my doctor what he recommended at this point with the clinical data and my age and in his opinion he said based on my age that the best option was to have the robotic prostatectomy because he felt like we have caught the cancer in an early stage and he wanted to see me around for another 40 years. He did say that he may be a little bias toward surgery because he is a very experienced surgeon, but said that based on the clinical's and my age that he really felt that it would be the best long term result. At this stage I asked about pros and cons of surgery and when he told me of the bladder control issues and male erection issues for a period of time, I began to fell very sick to my stomach. By the time the appointment was over the doctor spent over an hour and a half with me and my wife which meant a lot. I told him I needed time to think about everything and talk with my family and prayer and we scheduled another appointment for the following Tuesday. This gave me 5 days to absorb, talk to my family, do my homework and pray about my options, and if I wasn't comfortable at that point I could delay. This is a day I will never forget in my life, the day that changed it forever. Its off to do my homework which we will discuss in my next blog.

A Primer on Prostate Cancer:

Information on Gleason Score:

Information on Stages/Staging of Prostate Cancer:

American Cancer Society

The Biopsy

My prostate biopsy was scheduled for May 15th and I am a wimp when it comes to pain so I chose to be put under (asleep in dream land) and went to the outpatient surgery center in Gainesville,FL for the biopsy. My beautiful wife (who has been so awesome through all of this) of almost 17 years went with me and my sister-in-law from Ocala met us there for support. I was very nervous about the actual biopsy procedure and it it made me feel better to have my family with me. It was also comforting to know that people were praying for me as well, as I am a person of faith, which has helped me through this experience (I credit my parents for this, I was raised in church and really appreciate them). I went into the pre-op area and was prepared for my adventure. I have to say that everyone I have met in this healthcare community at UF/Shands has been very nice and gracious. Well, I fell asleep in the OR and woke up in the post op area. When I woke up I had a big problem, I could not go to the bathroom (#1) and was in pain. Dr.Parekattil did my biopsy and came to see me afterwards and said they needed to put in a catheter to help me. Well, remember I said I was a wimp, the doctor had to put in the catheter while I was awake! This was the most painful thing I have ever experienced, I could tell the doctor felt bad about having to do this, but it still hurt. Afterwards the doctor told me he felt good about my biopsy and was optimistic that everything would be okay. I had to go back into his office the next day to have the catheter removed and that was much easier. We made my follow-up appointment to get my biopsy results on May 29th. My next blog will discuss what happened at this appointment.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In the beginning, a diagnostic timeline

I will attempt to capture the timeline of events that lead us to my current diagnosis. About 3 years ago, I noticed that I had to go to the bathroom many times during the day including waking up a few times in the middle of the night and running to the bathroom. This was very disruptive in my life. I wasn't sure what to do with this and thought it was normal so I didn't do anything for a while.

Late in 2006 I made an appointment with a local Urologist to discuss getting a vasectomy and I then told him about my "going problem". He did an in office test and said that I possibly had an enlarged prostate and he prescribed me "Flomax". At this time he did not do any screening of my prostate. I took the medication for about 1 year and it did help a little in the beginning but I did notice that it was going back to the same pattern. My wife was concerned and asked me to ask the doctor at my six month follow-up about taking a PSA blood test just for peace of mind and my doctor said I was too young for this test. He also did not do a digital rectal exam. Almost a year and a half later I discussed it with my local PA (Physicians Assistant) and she suggested we try a different medication for 30 days to see if it would improve and said if it didn't improve that she would send me to a specialist. Well, after taking the new medication the symptoms did not improve and she referred me the Urology Center at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Since I am a UF Football Booster and season ticket holder and was happy to be going to the Urology center at UF. My first appointment was on April 22, 2008 and first saw a PA and Nurse Practioner which spent about 30 minutes with me going over my history. The PA did a digital rectal prostate exam and found 2 nodules on my prostate. He seemed concerned which concerned me. When the doctor came in he rechecked me again with the same result. The doctors name is Sijo J. Parekattil, M.D and he is the co-Director of Robotic Surgery for Prostate Cancer, Kidney Cancer & Director of Male Infertility and Microsurgery/Vasectomy Reversals at Shands hospital at the University of Florida. I really liked him,becuase of his awesome bed side manner and the bow tie he wore. He made me feel really comfortable and was very thorough. He explained to me that there are two screenings for prostate cancer, the digital rectal exam and a PSA test. (Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance released into a man's blood by his prostate gland. A PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood). He said if either of the test come back abnormal then its recommended to do a prostate biopsy to confirm the evidence of cancer. So in my case he recommended a biopsy becuase my digital rectal exam was abnormal. He did go ahead and order a PSA test and my PSA level was a 1.4 which was good news to me becuase anything over 4 is cause for concern. He felt that the biopsy would be routine and felt that my chances were very good for not having cancer becuase I was 41, and had no family history of prostate cancer along with a PSA result well in the normal range. My next step was to get the biopsy and will discuss in my next blog...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It can't happen to me I am too young!

I have recently learned that at age 41 that I have Prostate Cancer. Yes, you read that right. I can't believe it myself. After a series of test I learned about it on Thursday May 29th, 2008. That day will be forever entrenched into my mind. Since then I have done a lot of research, talked to a lot of people and have learned way more than I ever thought I would know about the prostate and prostate cancer. This is my first post on my blog. It seems that my age in an anamoly and there isn't much data on the Internet for people in their early forties diagnosed with prostate cancer. I want to create this blog so I can share my experience from beginning to end with the hope it will help someone else that may be my age going through this or someone who may have suspicions at this early age but haven't done anything about it and should be screened. In my next post I will go back to the beginning and talk about my symptoms and blog through until I reach the current time period. From there I will blog my experiences moving forward. Until the next blog...