Day by Day with Advanced Prostate Cancer
Pictured: Bob Jones and his daughter Laura on her wedding day.
A personal story on living with prostate cancer that has spread
Bob Jones knows that getting on top of your health means living a healthy lifestyle and being vigilant about annual checkups. So, when he heard the words “you have prostate cancer” two years after his last appointment, he knew it wasn’t good news.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. One in eight (12%) is expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that if caught early enough, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer that hasn’t spread to other parts of the body is nearly 100%.
When Bob was diagnosed in 2008, he learned his cancer had already spread beyond the prostate. Despite living with metastatic prostate cancer, he’s a vibrant 67-year-old who occupies his time with something new each day. “My friends tell me that I look good and that I’m very active. I’ve always been busy. I ran a successful business which I’ve now retired from, but back in the day I was too caught up in it all and unfortunately missed my annual tests, one of which was a blood test used to detect prostate cancer. Maybe my cancer would have been caught earlier had I made the time.”
What Bob is referring to is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. “When PSA levels are higher than normal, we know something is not right. In addition to the routine examination of the prostate your doctor will want to look further into it,” says Dr. David Laidley, a nuclear medicine physician in London, Ontario and Bob’s doctor. “In Bob’s case, because his cancer has progressed, we want to know as much as we can so that we know what we are dealing with, and latest advances are allowing us to do exactly that.”
Recently, Bob’s doctors offered him a PSMA PET (positron emission tomography) scan, a new prostate cancer assessment tool. PSMA stands for prostate-specific membrane antigen – a type of protein that’s found in high levels on the surface of prostate cancer cells. The PET scan uses a special agent that lets doctors pinpoint the precise location of cancer cells throughout the body. “Simply put, locating the PSMA protein found on prostate cancer cells in patients with the aggressive form of the disease helps doctors to see where in the body the cancer has spread. This allows us to assess for signs of recurrence and determine disease staging. PSMA PET imaging can lead to detection of disease that may not be seen on conventional imaging such as CT and bone scans,” continued Dr. Laidley.
Over the years Bob has undergone radiation and hormonal therapy. As a result of his PSMA PET scan, he was able to speak openly to Dr. Laidley about his options and feels he is in good hands.
He attributes his long survivorship to the support of his wife and two children, a positive outlook, and his medical team. “There have been ups and downs for sure. I’ve now passed the business on to my daughter and am living each day to its fullest. I’m really grateful to be surrounded by great doctors. I follow their advice and ask a lot of questions so I can feel comfortable that I’m making informed decisions,” says Bob.
Being at his daughter Laura’s wedding this past September meant the world to him and is a moment he had dreamed he would get to be part of after his diagnosis. He had the time of his life but when you ask Bob about what he liked best about the wedding, he’ll tell you, “The whole thing was amazing, but I’d have to say that my dance with my daughter was my favourite moment.”
Bob is a strong advocate of regular checkups for prostate cancer and encourages the men around him to get their PSA checked. He has a heartfelt message he wants to pass along to men living with advanced prostate cancer: “Knowledge is power.”
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