In November 2017, I had a visit with my primary doctor. At this visit, as a part of the regular check up, he did a prostate exam. The standard where they stick their finger up your butt to examine your prostate.
After the visit, he gave me several names for urologists that I could go and see. He felt it was necessary to have my prostate evaluated. I really didn't think any thing of it. I found a urologist I thought would be good. Having never visited one before I really didn't think it would matter. I made the appointment which was approximately a few weeks I would see him.
At the appointment, the doctor explained I would be tested for two reasons. One - to make sure my prostate is ok. Second, to see if I have cancer. When he said that, I was unnerved. My first thought was "Cancer"? I figured there won't be anything. I"m healthy, I workout every day. My prostate is in good condition. My family has health issues, but no one in my family has had prostate cancer. I concluded this was just making sure I'm ok. I dismissed the cancer aspect.
As the appt continued, they required I pee for the purposes of getting bloodwork. In addition he also did the same check as my primary doctor did. Every time they do that exam, it sucks. After the test, he explained we would get the results and look at the options. Depending on the test results, we will know which way to go. If the scores are normal, we won't do anything but monitor. If the scores are higher, we can do more tests and do a biopsy. I clearly didn't want to do a biopsy. This test was called a "PSA"(Prostate Specific Antigen).
This test is usually according to the research given to men who are at least 50. Yet prostate cancer can affect men who are younger than 50. There are some risks to this test which include, false positives, inaccurate scores leading to multiple tests. But the one good thing about this test is it provides the "potential" prevalence of cancer. After explaining, I was comfortable with the test. In all honesty, I would rather do the test a number of times rather than doing biopsy. My hope and expectation was that the scores would be low or normal. PSA test scores: 0-6 is normal. Above 6 could mean prevalence of cancer. The higher the score the more likely cancer exists. Yet a higher score doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer. It could mean passed on what the doctor said infection in the prostate.
When the test results came back a few weeks later, the score was 6. I was relieved. I could go on with my life. But I would have to come back again in 6 months. I feel like I dodged a bullet. I have to say while waiting for the results, I would sometimes worry what if? But I would tell myself, I can't obsess about the results. I would convince myself I'll be fine because I work out everyday, I eat ok. I'm in good shape. No way would I have a problem with my prostate.
For the sake of a timeline, the first test was in November 2017 as I said earlier. I was tested several times with relatively average scores until approximately March 2022. This is when the test results began to change. Prior to March 2022, my focus was work, dealing with Covid when it hit, the loss of our kids- our dogs, and being told I have calcium in my heart valves. My prostate was not a focus because avoiding getting Covid was the main priority along with keeping my job and surviving financially. Thank God my prostate didn't become an issue during this time before March 2022. Everything else had begun to settle.
Now along with all of this, around this time, in March 2022, I started have inconsistencies with urinating and other private issues associated with the prostate. Some days I would be fine. Other times, I couldn't walk a mile without having to go to the bathroom. Additionally I would on occasion wake up 3-4 times in the night to go to the bathroom. I definitely wondered what was going on, but didn't think too much of it. During this time as well, around January 2022, I was approaching the time to have another colonoscopy. It had been 5 years. Man I thought getting old sucks, but I was more concerned with work, avoiding Covid at this time still. The prostate issue took a backseat. I just didn't want to get Covid. This period was so stressful, my prostate was not on the radar. Sadly, March 2022, it was almost time for my next urology appointment. And with all of the bathroom issues, I was more concerned that maybe something was going on with my prostate. I still would have never thought or imagined what was coming down the road. How many things could I deal with?
As I write this, and think about it, I get emotionally overwhelmed a bit realizing what I was dealing with. Only in time afterwards do you sometimes realize how much you deal with. Reflectively there maybe is some truth to the religious saying "God doesn't give you more than you can handle".
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer.html has a lot of information on prostate cancer. As I said in the beginning, it's important to have your prostate checked. You won't know you have prostate cancer until you get the test or it maybe too late.
Next post, my March 2022 urology visit, the evaluation begins to seriously change.