I initially faced prostate cancer as a very interested spectator.
My father, Thomas E. Wilson, M.D., passed away in 1996 from complications due to prostate cancer and then in 1997 my father-in-law, Jerome J. Stanislaw, M.D., passed away after fighting the disease for six years. After their passing my five brothers and my two brothers-in-law started getting tested regularly. I was only in my mid-30s at the time, but my family physician convinced me to start early with screening.
Every year starting in 1996 I was tested and I remained a spectator until December of 2009 when my PSA levels, found through a simple blood test, were up higher than normal. I was sent to a urology group for a biopsy and met up with Dr. Mark Memo and Dr. Dan Ricchiuti, two great young urologists.
The biopsy came back positive and Dr. Ricchiuti was concerned that at my age – then 46 – it could spread rapidly. I took his advice and started an aggressive course of treatment, beginning with hormone therapy to slow down the development of testosterone, which feeds prostate cancer.
Surgery was the next step, which I scheduled a few months out so I could attend my daughter Mara’s international Irish step dancing competition in Glasgow, Scotland in April 2010.
Many friends and colleagues had been encouraging me to travel to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins, Duke or other prominent cancer hospitals for my surgery, but I was confident in Dr. Ricchiuti and his partners, plus I wanted to be near my four children, so I stayed local and received world-class treatment right here at home.
Dr. Ricchiuti used the cutting-edge da Vinci-assisted robotic surgical procedure to remove my prostate as well as some lymph nodes. Doing it arthroscopically shortened the recovery time and enabled such fine precision that I ended up avoiding the surgery’s two most common side effects, incontinence and impotence.
I was back at my office in Warren on a part-time basis just two weeks after surgery, and was back in the office full-time within a month.
Subsequent tests, initially every three months and now annually, have all been negative for cancer. I’m fortunate. I’m a walking testament to the benefits of early detection. Early detection is the key to the whole treatment.
One of my older brothers is another success story. He was diagnosed a year earlier than me and at a later age. He, too, had positive results through surgical treatment. Who knows, though, how either of our cases would have turned out if we weren’t diligent about being tested regularly?
(Patrick Wilson is a lawyer from Cortland, Ohio.)
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