Surviving Prostate Cancer: Bill’s Story

Bill-webMy name is Bill and I am a software engineer. In the fall of 2010, I was sitting on my father’s front porch in Milwaukee when I got the call confirming I had prostate cancer, the same disease that had killed my grandfather and was about to end my father’s life as well.

Because of my family history, for years I had regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. The PSA level is often elevated in men with prostate cancer and in the years just prior to 2010, my numbers were going up. Some doctors adopt a “watch and wait” approach to rising PSA levels when there are no symptoms. But my doctor recommended I see a urologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating prostate cancer. I’m glad he did.

The urologist recommended a new gene-based test called a PCA3 and the results were “positive,” meaning there was a strong likelihood I had prostate cancer. A biopsy was needed for confirmation and during that operation, 17 samples of prostate tissue were removed. Three were found to contain cancer cells. The good news was that my cancer was detected early and confined to one part of my prostate. This meant that with proper treatment, my prognosis was excellent.

Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are all used to treat prostate cancer. After researching my options, I chose to have surgery at Virginia Mason because, as I learned, it’s one of the best places in the country for this type of operation. After I decided on Virginia Mason, I was also accepted into the clinical trial of a new treatment being tested as an adjunct to surgery. In the weeks prior to my operation, I visited Virginia Mason frequently as part of this clinical trial. With every visit, I felt more certain that I was in the best possible hands.

On the day of the surgery, everything went smoothly. My hospital stay and follow-up care were first rate. I actually returned to work after only three days off.

Today, I am considered cancer free. I am back to enjoying hiking, biking and kayaking. And while I continue to be monitored closely, my focus is not on cancer, but on the people I love: my wife and five children/stepchildren.

My life has changed in positive ways. I have more gratitude, more awareness that I want to enjoy the life God has given me, and more urgency to do things today, not tomorrow. I’m grateful for the care I received at Virginia Mason. And to the people who provided that great care, I send my heartfelt thanks.

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This story originally appeared on VirginiaMason.org. Meet other patients who bravely shared their stories of fighting cancer, and get the latest information on cancer treatment outcomes and wellness and support at Virginia Mason.

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