I have lived a life without health concerns. Yes, I had high blood pressure. Yes, I did tear up a knee playing football decades ago. However, in general, my health has never been an issue and, in that regard, I lived life without health worries. Well, that was until October 2017. During routine blood work, Dr. Alling of Decatur, Texas, expressed concern at the level of my PSA test.
As is protocol, he placed me on antibiotics and instructed me to have it tested again in three weeks. I had been down this road about twelve years earlier and the antibiotics knocked out a small infection and that was the end of that. This time however, my PSA went up after three weeks. He referred me to Dr. Doubrava, an Urologist also of Decatur, who tortured me by taking samples of my prostate. He found that all twelve samples contained cancer and sat me down for a long conversation about my options. Due to the nature of the cancer, there was not a sense of immediate urgency.
He was not a surgeon and offered to refer me, depending on my decision, to another physician to carry out the procedure that I choose. I was very grateful because he spent at least an hour and twenty minutes with me and explained all of my options in great detail and answered all of my questions. The first option he mentioned was High Requency Ultrasound (HIFU). This is a relatively new procedure to the United States. It has been offered in other countries for a longer period of time. He jumped over this option, stating that there was no one in this area who performed HIFU. He explained in great detail the other procedures and the pros and cons of each. I had a pretty clear picture as I left his office about which procedure I would choose.
As I got in my truck and proceeded on to my destination, I heard a radio advertisement for HIFU now being performed in the Dallas area. I followed up with that and soon had an appointment with Dr. James Cochran at his office near Presbyterian Hospital. He explained to me in great detail the HIFU procedure and after about an hour and fifteen minutes with him, my mind was made up. HIFU was my choice. As a side note, I would highly recommend that anyone facing prostate cancer explore this procedure. He recommended that I begin hormone therapy for the purpose of reducing my testosterone level. This would rob the prostate cancer of its main fuel, testosterone, by simply lowering my testosterone production, and shrink my prostate making any procedure I choose less difficult. So now, I eagerly am awaiting the upcoming “hot flashes” and have found no sympathy from my wife regarding these symptoms.
There were other contributing factors in the decision that I made. There were also other obstacles that I faced. I have worked as a self-employed contractor most of my life. So, I did not have a lot of flexibility regarding recovery time. The HIFU procedure is usually an outpatient procedure and men are able to return to their work more quickly than the surgical options. Another facet of my dilemma was that as a self-employed individual, I had no health insurance. And on top of that, my business has slowed drastically beginning early in the summer. So, finances were an issue as well. I had no idea how I would pay for this procedure.
Sharon Watson, from Doctor Cochran’s office, demonstrated great compassion for me and she jumped on board as my personal patient advocate. During her research, she learned of and immediately made me aware of Mankind™, an organization in the Dallas area which is solely focused on educating and providing a measure of financial assistance to men facing prostate cancer. After speaking with Jason Taylor, I filled out and sent an application immediately. Shortly thereafter, I heard from Jason and we scheduled a lunch meeting at his office. Like my perception of Sharon Watson, I felt like I had more friends to stand beside me as I faced this battle.