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5, 24, 2024
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Each man's Journey is listed under his BASIC treatment. When you click on one of the names to read a particular Journey, you may see one or more different treatments in bold lettering immediately above the Journey text. You will see (Recurrence) if they are due to a recurrence. Otherwise, they will be treatments used in conjunction with the basic treatment, i.e. Lupron with External Beam Radiation or External Beam Radiation with HDRT/Brachytherapy, etc.

Active Surveillance
Gary Sanders
Len Lindstrom

Alternative (Natural) Therapy
Allen Titmus

Cryoablation - Freezing
Paul Niblock

Hormone Therapy
Arthur Case
Duke Best
Fred Thorngate
Guy Waller
Rick Lopez
Rommie Overton

Radiation - Brachytherapy
Denny Shields
Wayne Miller

Radiation - External Beam
Armand Chichmanian
Jim Wilkinson
Joe Henderson
Lance Stoddard
Rich Gordon
Rick Dancer
Rommie Overton
Tom Wilson
Warren Davidson

Radiation - HDRT
Clint Sherburne

Surgery - Open
Anonymous Part 1
Anonymous Part 2
Bob Hefty
Bob Horney
Bob Thorp
Debbie Daugherty
Jim Buch
Joel Peterson
Tim Daugherty

Surgery - Robotic
Anonymous 2, Part 1
Anonymous 2
Bill Force
Bob Peters
Christopher (Christo) Schwartz
Lowell Bublavi
Ray Barba
Roger Straus

Rick Lopez

Before this journey, I knew nothing of prostate cancer. I had no clue of this "old man's disease." I had no family history and knew no one personally who had it. I saw my primary care doctor, had semi-regular physicals, was generally healthy with a good job, great family and a comfortable life.
After turning 40, I asked my out-of-town doctor if he was ever going to check my prostate as part of my physicals. His response was always, "Don't worry about it, you're not 50 yet."
During my mid-40 s, I developed urology issues which resulted in two uncomfortable surgeries. I even asked my urologist if he was ever going to check my prostate and I was told that I was a young man so, "Don't worry about it."
In May 2007, at age 47, I had a yearly physical which included some blood work. The following week my doctor called me at 7:30 a.m., which I found odd since he had never called me before, and he said that my PSA was elevated and he was concerned. I scheduled an appointment and learned that my PSA was 14 and my Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) was abnormal. My doctor suggested I follow up with my urologist.
Since my previous urologist had retired, I sought out another at OHSU. Dr. Fuchs was very informative and this inspired me to do some research into my medical records. To my amazement, my PSA was elevated in one of my previous physicals and even though my medical records states, "Patient notified but patient did not respond," I have no recollection of that. I was obviously upset but needed to focus on present issues.
Following a prostate biopsy, I received a call at work that they found cancer. My wife and I decided that among the treatment options, surgery (prostatectomy) was my best bet. That choice went out the window when my full body bone scan showed that the cancer had already spread to my ribs, spine and skull, meaning a cure was not in sight. My PSA had also risen to 22. How different my diagnosis /treatment might have been had I undergone a PSA test seven years earlier.
There are few choices for treatment when the prostate cancer has metastasized outside the prostate, so I was put on Lupron, a hormone therapy to rid my body of the testosterone that feeds the cancer, but which subjects me to debilitating hot flashes. Lupron works until the cancer finds a way to grow without the testosterone, which could be months or years. I am now in month 21. In addition, I also started the intravenous Zometa therapy to protect my bones from the effects of Lupron. At this time I feel good, but still experience some hot flashes and have bouts with rib and joint pain. The larger the joint, the more painful it is. I have good days and bad days. I am in good spirits and still working full time, but it is becoming more and more difficult.
Following my diagnosis, I attended Man to Man and was refreshed to find that I was not alone in this battle. The meetings were informative for all and I would recommend them for all men and their families. This disease not only affects me but everyone around me. One of my children acted like it was nothing, one was deeply sorrowed and another was going to find a cure and advised me in nutritional and lifestyle changes. It is painful to see the ones you love being in emotional distress and unable to "fix it."
To the "experts" who make PSA screening recommendations and the doctors who delay the screening for prostate cancer until age 50, I am simply an unfortunate statistic. They know by waiting until age 50 to screen for prostate cancer that a certain percentage of men will fall through the cracks - have advanced prostate cancer by the time of diagnosis. Well, that's me - a son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, nephew, friend to many and, most of all, a young man who would like a chance at a long life. I haven't given up on that, but know the odds are not in my favor. I have worked my way through the five stages of dying: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. Although being raised in a Christian home, I was never an overly religious person until I heard this voice tell me (as clear as a bell), "Something good will come of this, Rick." Those simple words have helped me exemplify what is truly important in my life: God, Family and Friends. This walk of faith has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life and brought me, along with my family, to a place of understanding and reality with our Lord. Although there are many things I would still like to accomplish, I am at peace and have reassurance now that my life has been full and I'm confident that I know where I am going when I leave this earth.

- 1 Year Later -
In May 2009, I shared my original Personal Prostate Cancer Journey in the Siuslaw News. To briefly recap that Journey, I was diagnosed at age 47 with metastatic prostate cancer after requesting, but being denied, PSA testing from age 40. Today, as I deal with advanced, and incurable, prostate cancer, I want to share how my treatment regimen and, in particular, the side effects of that treatment, impact my daily life, and that of my wife, Cathy.
My doctor's reports continue to be positive and the PSA continues to fall ever so slightly. I am currently at .390 and the Lord is good! That's just fine with me if it decides to stay right there!
My life, along with my body, has changed. The weight has crept up on me and now it is an ongoing battle to reduce my waist line and keep my rock hard body it's chiseled self. Dieting was never part of my vocabulary and reading the ingredients of products at the store was something I left for others to do. But now, I dare not put something in the basket without checking "things." It's a vicious cycle. My loss of energy results in doing less, eating more and basically turning into someone I am not.
The pain in my joints has increased and I get mysterious bone pain, lasting weeks, from the intravenous Zometa treatment given to protect my bones. Each treatment seems to unfold something new and bizarre! Following a recent treatment, my thumbs locked up. I went to an orthopedist and he decided I needed some cortisone to free up the joints. I'll take the locking joints any day over the shot in the hand. It was no fun! I could only stand to have a shot in one hand. Now to my amazement, both thumbs have no locking or pain. It just went away! God is good! This months' treatment session unfolded a mysterious, continual pain in my right heel bone. Something resembling a fracture or deep bone bruise. It doesn't want to go away so I will get an x-ray and follow up with the doctor. The side effects from Zometa never seem to be consistent with me.
Thanks to the Lupron doing its job, eliminating my testosterone and lowering my PSA, my hot flashes/sweats continue unabated. I've simply accepted them as a way of life and am thankful that my cancer is not progressing.
Fortunately, I am still able to work. That keeps me involved with a very strong support system at the hospital and keeps my income and health insurance intact. As I wrote last year, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep working full time and that is still true. However, I love my job and do not even have disability retirement on my radar!
Besides Lupron and Zometa, I am on blood pressure, antidepressant and pain medicines. I have to stop the pain meds at 7:30 p.m. or I'm too wired to sleep. I replace the pain meds with a sleeping pill which helps me get past the pain and get some sleep. It is a constant battle to keep the meds and their side effects all under control. As you can see, pain is a constant companion and it doesn't matter that most of it is from Zometa. Pain is pain!
My wife, Cathy, has had her own set of challenges as she has seen her life changed dramatically by my health. Since there is no way to prepare for all of my changes, every day can bring on a new challenge. Sure, we know "kind of" what to expect, but never exactly since my response to treatment is simply "my response." I just don't always respond as the typical patient whoever that is.
The one thing that is consistent about me is the lack of energy and motivation. That is one more thing attributed to the Lupron. That makes it very difficult getting up, putting in a full day of work and still, at the end of the day, having any energy left for work at home. As much as I would like to get out and do things around our home, I'm just not physically able to get up and get going. That has been a major adjustment for Cathy because it throws much more responsibility on her. This has brought us to the idea of selling our home and moving into something smaller, but the economy isn't good for that right now. Never did I think that at age 50 I would have to be dealing with these kinds of decisions. They are for much older people. But, Cathy and I were dealt this hand, have made other tough decisions and will be ok when all is said and done.
The biggest thing that is important in my life now, is my walk with my creator and my family. The Lord has been so good to me and my family and has held us together through many trials and tribulations. They say that it is very important to remove stress from your life and that peace is very important for survival. But you know life does not stop because you have cancer. People go on and it is important that you go on with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. It is so easy to fall into the doom and gloom of this terrible disease but there is a reason for everything and the reason I have for me is that it has opened a pathway for me to share the joy of the Lord with others in this predicament and show them that all is not so bad. Attitude is the key. Copyright © 2010 - 2024