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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Jimmy Jenkins, Virginia Beach, VA

My journey with Prostate cancer began in June 2007. But before I tell you my story, I want you to know "YES – IT IS TRUE. ALL OF IT." Dr. Arnon Krongrad, MD is the most compassionate, caring, and remarkably skilled doctor you will ever meet. If you are reading this website, you or someone you love has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and you’re looking for answers. You’ve come to the right place.

In June 2007, at a regular physical, I was given the standard PSA test. In prior years my reading had been 3.0 and 3.6, nothing to be concerned about (or so I was told) and no reason to see a urologist. However, this year my count had risen to 4.6, over the “magic” 4.0 guideline. I was referred to a local urologist for a biopsy. My wife and I were not concerned in the least since I’m 58 years old and in great health .

In August, I went for biopsies and when the results were in, the doctor  informed us that I had prostate cancer. At that point, my mind began to think all kinds of things, mostly how in the world could this be. He continued to tell me that six of the twelve samples were positive, the margins did not appear to be penetrated, etc……. I didn’t really hear anything else after that. Fear gripped my heart.

As we left the doctor’s office, my mind began to wonder “how long do I have”, “how bad is it really”, “what if it’s outside the prostate”, questions that couldn’t be answered. I was in good health and we were still young.

We began to talk and focus on the “situation” at hand. This was bigger than both of us, something we couldn’t fix. We spent hours upon hours of research on the internet to learn everything we could. What were the real questions? Who could tell us the best options? Did we have options? What treatment would best preserve our quality of life?

We made an appointment with a highly recommended urologist with a large group in our area for a second opinion. In the meantime, waiting for the appointment date, we continued to search for answers. The treatment options were pretty clear and we made a choice early on that we would pursue prostate cancer surgery. We wanted to know that the cancer was gone and it was completely behind us so we could look forward to the future without questions.

I had heard about Dr. Arnon Krongrad from Pat Robertson, president of Christian Broadcasting Network, and a local pastor, both of whom had been treated by Dr. Krongrad and they had nothing but great things to say about him.  Having seen Pat’s recovery and heard his story, I was very interested to find out more about this doctor. When I talked to Pat’s secretary, she also told me wonderful things about this Dr. K, as her husband had been treated by him as well.

The first week of September, my wife went onto Dr. Krongrad’s website and sent him an e-mail asking if I would be a candidate for laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Within an hour, she had received an e-mail response, asking about my physical health and copies of the biopsy report and historical PSA readings. We couldn’t believe his quick personal response. In the weeks following, we would receive several e-mails and phone calls directly from Dr. Krongrad. My wife talked to his office on nearly a daily basis while we were trying to figure out what to do.

After meeting with the second urologist, I had definitely decided on LRP. He referred us to another  doctor in his group that performs the robot assisted RP.  I asked how I could know positively that the cancer had not spread from the prostate, as this could affect my choice of treatment. He said the only sure way was to have a bone scan and CAT scan. Although he didn’t think it necessary, for my peace of mind we scheduled the test.

I had the tests on September 21st.  A few days later, I received the results from his nurse. “Oh”, she said, “there was a small place on your left eleventh rib that appears to be metastasized.” I couldn’t believe my ears. We were stunned. We immediately got a copy of the results from the doctor and e-mailed them to Dr. Krongrad asking what this meant. Unbelievably, within an hour’s time, Dr. Krongrad called our cell phone and told us not to be worried, it REALLY was nothing to be concerned about and that the only way to be positive was to have a chest x-ray. Needless to say, I was at the doctor’s office that evening for an x-ray and the radiologist called the next day to confirm, as Dr. K had told us, this was nothing related to the prostate cancer and was likely a scar from an old injury.

We continued to communicate with Dr. Krongrad and his office, learning everything possible, while waiting for the initial six week period to pass so that I could have the surgery. With our children in the area, we knew they would want to be with us during this time and thought possibly it would be best to have it done locally. My wife set up the appointment with the urologist that could perform the procedure in this area.

I kept our appointment with the local doctor. Upon arrival, a female assistant talked to us in an office for about half an hour. Then we went back to his office. When he arrived fifteen minutes later, he was very clinical, told us what the options were, asked us to sign the papers for the surgery, he had set up a time with the local hospital, and that if we changed our mind to just call back and cancel. He was very impersonal and matter of fact. We wanted a physician that truly cared about us. At that point, our decision was made. We scheduled the surgery with Dr. Krongrad and starting making plans for the trip.

Now, I was excited - first, to get rid of the cancer and put all of this behind me and go on with my life and, finally to meet this Dr. Krongrad that I had heard so many great reports about. We were about to find out if it was all true. And it was………

The next two weeks passed quickly. It had only been 8 weeks since I received the diagnosis. We arrived in Florida on Saturday and had our preliminary meeting with Dr. Krongrad on Monday. Upon arriving at his office, we checked in and before we could find a seat, Hope called us back. When Dr. Krongrad came in his office to meet us, we felt like old friends. He was very kind and asked what questions we had about the procedure and the post surgery issues. He patiently explained everything.

Surgery was scheduled for November 6, 2007 at 7:00am and the hospital told us Dr. Krongrad is never late. The morning of surgery arrived. I was anxious and nervous – mostly anxious. As expected Dr. Krongrad arrived a few minutes early, he assured me everything would be fine and that he’d see me in the operating room. Knowing the surgery could be lengthy, my wife and daughter planned to be in the waiting room for a while. Amazingly, in less than an hour and a half, Dr. Krongrad came out and told them everything went great.

I only stayed in the hospital for one day. Dr. Krongrad visited me the afternoon and night of my surgery and told us to call him on his cell phone if we needed anything. The 24 hours following the surgery were a little uncomfortable – nothing aspirin couldn’t fix. Other than the inconvenience of the catheter, I couldn’t believe how well I felt. The next morning Dr. Krongrad came by, removed the drain tube, checked me out, and I was on my way back to the resort. I felt well enough to go out to dinner the following evening.

When we went back to Dr. Krongrad’s office for the follow up visit on Friday morning, it was like visiting old friends. Dr. Krongrad, Ruth and Hope met us in the hallway and we talked for a while. The pathology reports had come back with all margins clear. This was the report we had awaited – I was cancer free. We left his office that day knowing that they would be part of our lives for many years to come.

We caught a plane home on Saturday morning and began the recovery period. Ten days after the surgery, I went to my local urologist to have the catheter removed. He had already received the report from Dr. Krongrad’s office with the results. He read the report and was extremely impressed with the expertise of the procedure performed. He actually told us it was remarkable and he had never seen anything like it before. He asked why we decided to go to Florida. We told him about Dr. Krongrad – about the e-mails, the phone calls, his staff, his gentle demeanor, his excellent skill and mostly that he really cared about us. My doctor responded that this was obviously something his group needed to work on and that it isn’t something you learn in medical school.

Here I am now, six months later. Life is pretty much back to normal. The incontinence lasted about a month, but subsided as expected. My energy level is completely back to normal. My sexual functions have not returned entirely, but we knew this process would take longer – even up to two years. What’s worth more than anything  is to wake up every day  knowing the cancer is gone.

I have been in your place and I would tell you – do your research, get a second opinion, consider all the treatment options and their post treatment issues. Most of all, don’t wait - be confident in the decision you make and do it. For me, there was only one choice and it is one I will never regret. Although it was only 9 weeks from diagnosis to surgery, it felt like a lifetime. Dr. Krongrad’s remarkable caring attitude and professional, gentle spirit helped us through this life changing time. In the process of it all, we gained true friends in Dr. Krongrad and his staff. We stay in touch on a regular basis and are advocates in bringing awareness of prostate cancer to men across the country.

My wife and I are available anytime if you’d like to talk with someone who’s been there. You can contact us via the New Prostate Cancer InfoLink Social Network. Just log in, become a member, and leave me a note.

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a man of faith prays as he faces prostate cancer surgery