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Behind the Headlines-09

Us TOO FLORENCE - BEHIND THE HEADLINES-9
BY BOB HORNEY - PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR - Us TOO CHAPTER LEADER
(Published May 14, 2014, The Siuslaw News)
(Also found under PERSONAL JOURNEYS - Surgery - Open - Anonymous Part 1)

Today, we start a two-part story of a local prostate cancer survivor who has been pushed the extra mile - make that a whole bunch of extra miles - to get his life back following a radical prostatectomy (removal of his cancerous prostate). He shared his journey at the April 8 Us TOO Florence meeting specifically so he could publicly express his appreciation and thanks to Dr. Bryan Mehlhaff, the urologist who gave him his life back. He has graciously permitted me to share it with the community at large with one stipulation - this is about Dr. Mehlhaff's compassion, medical expertise and surgical skill - not about the patient (who shall remain anonymous).
Following is his exceptional journey of perseverance, doctor expertise, healing and LIFE:
In December 2000, at age 54, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My PSA was 4.3 and a Gleason score of 6 (3+3). I elected to have a radical prostatectomy because both my parents died of cancer (breast cancer for my mother and lung cancer for my father). In January 2001, I had surgery (#1) in San Diego, CA where I lived.
After several months it became hard to urinate. When I called the surgeon, he told me he had hurt his back and wasn't available. He said, and I quote, "You're on your own." He wouldn't even refer me to someone else (won't tell you my thoughts)! My internist found me another urologist (who did not do surgery).
His examination consisted of trying to get a cystoscope in my bladder to see what was going on and, having problems doing so, used metal rods to "forcibly clear the path" for the cystoscope. After examining me, he said, "I'm putting you in the hospital. Your bladder neck is almost closed and we need to open you up right away." (This surgery (#2) was done by the examining urologist's partner and is called a Bladder Neck Contracture - BNC). I found out later that he told my wife that it looked like a bomb went off inside me. (That "bomb" damage was caused by the surgeon's partner during the initial examination by punching a hole in my bladder).
After the trip to the hospital and another few weeks with a catheter, things seemed to be OK - NOT. A month or so later the same thing happened again - back in the hospital for surgery (#3) and another couple of weeks with a catheter.
In August 2001 my wife and I moved to Florence and in October 2001 it became hard to urinate again. I saw a urologist in Eugene and had another surgery (#4). In December it happened again - another surgery (#5). When I started to have trouble urinating again the doctor suggested I have Diversion Surgery and said it was beyond his level of expertise.
By this time I had attended many Man to Man Prostate Cancer Support Group meetings right here in Florence and Dr. Mehlhaff's name came up as being a great doctor. So, I made an appointment with him and he examined me right then and there with that thing (cystoscope) to have a look inside my bladder. To quote Dr. Mehlhaff, "A picture is worth a thousand words." He told me that it appears like the opening to my bladder was not the natural opening (remember San Diego) and he thought he might be able to rectify things. I believe he thought it was premature for the Diversion Surgery and I probably wasn't a good candidate because I have Multiple Sclerosis. I had what's called a neurogenic bladder, which is a consequence of the MS - it simply means that my bladder won't hold very much.
I had another BNC surgery (#6) by Dr. Mehlhaff and it seemed as if things were finally going to work out for me because I was not having the urinating problems like in the past, at least not yet.

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