When my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his mid 40s, we opted for a more aggressive treatment strategy, which led him being cancer-free and able to enjoy a healthy sex life.
During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share a positive outcome and offer a bit of support and hope for men who might be newly diagnosed and in their 40s or 50s as well as their partners.
The topic of prostate cancer is important to me as my husband is a prostate cancer survivor. It was both concerning and shocking when he was diagnosed in his mid 40s.Fortunately, he was being screened at my request as I was aware of his family history of prostate cancer. We also had a cancer policy in place where we were refunded for yearly preventative screenings.
While I am grateful that he took my advice and requested a PSA as part of his annual physical and preventive screening, I was not fully prepared for the news and shock when he came back with results suggesting a prostate cancer diagnosis. The cancer diagnosis was eventually confirmed following a biopsy and the journey of “what now” began.
As a couple, we began doing our research and learning about different treatment approaches, as well as the pros and cons of imaging. Unfortunately, we learned that imaging for the prostate can be a bit difficult and that some cities do not have the most effective equipment due to the cost of the devices and their ability to offer high-quality imaging in a manner which allows for an accurate way to monitor the progression of the cancer. As such, monitoring the PSA levels is the most common tool for monitoring progression.
However, my husband and I learned from a close friend and physician that he has seen prostate cancer in younger men progress differently than men who are diagnosed in their late 60s or 70s. Our friend suggested removing the prostate and not to delay.
Most men fear removing the prostate as they equate it to living sterile and without being able to enjoy sex following surgery. But then we learned about robotic surgery and the importance of sparing the nerves about the prostate, which allows men to continue to have an enjoyable sex life following a prostatectomy; this would be essential to a quality sex life.
Then, the journey to research and interview qualified and experienced surgeons began. We had some bad experiences and found some physicians who we would not recommend because of their demeanor, but eventually found a reputable surgeon and specialist thanks to my husband’s urologist and a close friend of mine.
Their suggestion was to go with someone associated with Mount Sinai on Miami Beach. We are grateful that we took the time to research options and feel comfortable with a surgeon. We are also blessed that my husband did not wait.
In less than a year from diagnosis and without any medication, his PSA levels were going down, but his post-surgery biopsy showed that the cancer had been spreading and had almost broken out of his prostate. He had not been recommended for treatment due to his age and the decreasing PSA levels, but instinct and supportive feedback from peers prompted us to be proactive.
It has been over three years since my husband’s diagnosis and prostate removal. I am grateful my husband is alive and well. We have dear friends to thank for sharing their advice and experience, which led my husband to make a very important choice for his body.
His choice was not an easy choice to make, but his is now in his early 50s, he is cancer free, and gets to enjoy a satisfying and healthy sex life.
As a spouse, I understand there is fear, but if newly diagnosed, I encourage patients to discuss treatment options with your partner. I feel if my husband would not have been proactive, he had a lot more to worry about losing than just a sex life.
Consider treatment options, regular screening for prostate cancer if it runs in your family and possibly be more aggressive with your treatment options if diagnosed at a younger age. You may want to consider a more aggressive approach to make what might be a more aggressive form of prostate cancer and which can be deceiving if just monitoring the PSA count.
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