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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Lindsay Cherry, Virginia Beach, VA

I was 70 years old. When my urologist informed me that the past six months my PSA count had jumped from 4.5 to 6.9 ng/ml. He advised me to immediately take a second prostate biopsy.

Results from my first biopsy five years earlier proved negative for prostate cancer. The culprit of my urinary problems was detected: an enlarged prostate.

I delayed this second prostate biopsy for three months because I was afraid that the test results would not be favorable. At the time, I was in the middle of producing a fund-raiser for my high school. After completing it, I followed through with my second biopsy and, as I expected, I had  prostatic carcinoma.

That was BAD news. The GOOD news was that my cancer was a Gleason score 6, meaning there was a good chance that the cancer was contained within the prostate and had not spread to my bones and/or other organs. Based on this information, my urologist scheduled a second series of test (X-rays, CT scan, MRI scan) to confirm that the cancer had no spread to my bones. The tests were negative, a true blessing. These results increased my options for prostate cancer treatment and improved my possibilities for cure.

At a followup meeting my urologist laid out my treatment options: surgery or radiation. He explained the pros and cons of each. He thought that I was a good candidate for surgery, despite my age, because I was in fairly good physical condition. He gave me a booklet that explained the disease and its treatment options and told me to go home, discuss this matter with my family, make my decision, and see him in two weeks. He also informed me that he had retired from performing prostate cancer surgery and was not directly associated with groups performing radiation treatment.

At this point I was lost. I was stuck with this dreaded disease and had to make a life defining decision pretty soon. As part of my decision making process I had to factor in my age -- am I able to withstand the trauma of major surgery? -- and minimize those negative thoughts swirling around in my head of friends and associates whose prostate cancer procedures had been less than successful.

While pondering my options, my mind guided me to my computer and I was off on a fact-finding mission to learn all I could about this organ, the disease, and the cures.

I typed in “prostate cancer” and thank goodness hit pay-dirt. I found a wealth of information on the prostate and through reading became quite knowledgeable on the subject.

My reading brought me in touch with a relatively new procedure called Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy (LRP) and a young, brilliant surgeon who pioneered the procedure in this country named Dr. Arnon Krongrad. The procedure was less invasive, required a minimum loss of blood, and patients were usually released from the hospital the next day. NOW THAT REALLY GOT MT ATTENTION!

Also, one of Dr. Krongrad former patients (an outstanding Minister) reported that he was BACK TO WORK IN ONE WEEK! I was sold. THIS WAS THE DOCTOR AND THE PROCEDURE FOR ME.

I was on the phone the next day to Dr. Krongrad’s office to see if I qualified for this miracle surgery. It was my good fortune to speak to Dr. Krongrad’s wonderful assistant Hope. She hat that fine ability to allay one’s fear and help build one’s self confidence.

She spelled out the details that I needed to know. She got in touch with my urologist and primary doctor to ascertain key information was forwarded to her. She scheduled a battery of additional test that I needed to take. She arranged for me to speak via the phone to Dr. Krongrad. Within a very short period of time everything was set. The whole process was very efficient and effective.

The next thing I knew, my wife and I were on a plane to Florida for my surgery. We arrived in Florida on Sunday, Sept 2 (we traveled on Sunday to avoid the Labor Day crowd). I had a pre-op exam by Dr. Krongrad on Tuesday, Sept 4; was operated on Wednesday morning, Sept 5th and was released from the hospital by Thursday noon, Sept 6th. Everything moved like clockwork.

Although I did experience some pain, I walked out of the hospital on my own and waited fifteen minutes for a cab to transport my wife and me back to the hotel. I think it is worth noting that I have never required pain medication.

Selecting Dr. Krongrad and the LRP procedure was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.