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Prostate Cancer Celebration

October 30, 2013

By Gerald Green
I remember learning how to count by fives, 5, 10, 5, 20, and as an adult five became one of my favorite numbers. Because living five years post cancer treatment without evidence of disease is considered a statistical cure, and yesterday my oncologist made it official−no evidence of prostate cancer.

His conclusion is based on five years of monitoring my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) score, which had to be much less than 1.0 post surgery. He monitored it every three months for the first year, and every six month thereafter. Now that I’m disease-free, he will check it annually; however, five years ago my PSA jumped from 2.2 to 3.15, which was still within the safe zone of 0.0 to 4.0. African American men tend to have higher indices of prostate cancer and I became concerned with the sudden rate of change in my PSA. I had follow-up tests done, and watchful waiting was suggested as an option.

My wife and I decided not to wait and see if my tumors were fast or slow growing and risk the chance of metastasis. We had observed my wife’s uncle suffer from prostate cancer that had metastasized to his bone−a painful death and he had had his prostate surgically removed but they didn’t get it all. Not so uncommon, my neighbor had his prostate removed twelve years ago, and his PSA dropped to undetectable. Now his PSA has risen and his oncologist prescribes hormone therapy for him.

I opted for robotic surgery. I had it early one October Friday morning in 2008, went home that Saturday afternoon and I walked around my neighborhood that Monday. However, the physical and mental anguish of the surgery was less stressful than dealing with my son’s adolescent logic. His high school drama zapped some of my recovery energy, but that didn’t stop me from helping him graduate from high school.

A child can count by fives: 5, 10, 15, 20, but it’s a grownup decision to get tested (Is Prostate Cancer Screening Right for You? see link). Knowledge is power. I exercised my power, which afforded me time for early detection and appropriate treatment. Tick-tock, know your power. And if you don’t have medical coverage, sign up for the Affordable Care Act today, because timely accurate medical information is the power of life−tick-tock!

Do you know your power?

With a perspective I’m Gerald Green

Gerald Green is a retired gas engineer and an author who lives in Oakland. His memoir Life Constricted: To Love, Hugs and Laughter chronicles his family’s cancer journeys.

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