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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Marcelo Grinberg, Pembroke Pines, Florida

I am 36 years old and the youngest member of the Miami LRP Fraternity. As I write this, I am three weeks after my laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. I am already completely dry at night and am 90% dry during the day. I have also already had partial erections and orgasm. This is how I got here.

I was born in Argentina, but have lived in the United States for the last 14 years. I had had hepatitis A as a child and a while back had a hernia repaired. I was in generally good health.

Two years ago, my oldest brother, a 48-year old physician, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Having a brother with prostate cancer is one of the risks for prostate cancer.

My brother did many hours of research. In the end, my brother had one of the older options for prostate cancer surgery, an open radical prostatectomy at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, MD. I watched him suffer for months. His cut was in the center of his abdomen to around the belly button. He had been told to begin iron supplements weeks before his prostate cancer surgery, because iron helps recover from blood loss. He had been advised that he would lose a great deal of blood during surgery. For this reason, he donated several units of his own blood in preparation for surgery; it was all used in his surgery because he lost over a liter and a half of blood!

My brother wore a catheter for almost a month, through which he peed "Kool-Aid" for about three weeks. My brother was unable to walk normally until about 6-8 weeks post treatment.

Seeing all this, and coupled with the fact that I am not one of the BRAVEST patients in the world, I decided to do my OWN homework. Coincidentally, my wife's ex-husband also had prostate cancer 5 years earlier. He had opted to have his surgery done laparoscopically and locally. HE TOO is a doctor! And, like my brother, he, too, is quite obsessive with everything he does in his life. When I talked to him, he explained to me that he had seen seven - yes, that's right, seven - specialists, all over the United States, before choosing Dr. Krongrad.

So …I researched Dr. Krongrad THOROUGHLY, had my wife call his office, spoke to Hope - the kindest woman you will ever meet - and made an appointment to meet with the doctor as soon as possible.

How did I get into this position? My brother noted that brothers of men with prostate cancer, especially brothers of young men with prostate cancer, are at high risk themselves. He advised me to get my PSA checked. This led to a meeting with my internist, who found that my PSA was 4.6 ng/ml. I then went to a urologist who said that at my age, this was really nothing. He advised a 10-day treatment with Levaquin, an antibiotic. A repeat PSA was 3.7 ng/ml. The urologist then said "JUST FOR PEACE OF MIND," because in all his experience he had NEVER SEEN a patient with prostate cancer under age 40, we should biopsy. The biopsy showed 2 of the 6 cores with cancer. I sent the slides for second opinion, which said basically the same.

The urologist explained that I could really just do nothing.... for about 6 years... since prostate cancer was a very slow growing cancer. He recommended intermittent checks. Well, this was NOT FOR ME! When someone tells me I have CANCER... I WANT IT OUT!

This left a dilemma: Johns Hopkins, to which my brother pressured me to go, or Dr. Krongrad. My wife, who knew how well her ex-husband had done and how easily he recovered, did not push but hoped it would be Dr. Krongrad. As an aside, since Dr. Krongrad is an expert in nerve preservation, he was able to save BOTH nerve bundles.

SO ... we met with Dr. Krongrad, who gave us a great deal of time, explained EVERY issue, was kind, soft spoken, and left us feeling SAFE for the first time since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. A few weeks later, I had my laparoscopic radical prostatectomy.

As it turned out, I lost more blood getting ready for surgery than in surgery. On a preop meeting with the anesthesiologist, I fell and hit my face on his desk. My chin split open and bled all over him and his desk. They rushed me to the emergency room, and all ended well. I was then ready for prostate cancer surgery.

The LRP took just over two hours. I awoke in recovery room to see my brother, the doctor, hovering over my head and to receive a kiss on the head. I was soon in my room upstairs, chatting with my parents. My urine was crystal clear and I had minimal discomfort. That evening, I went for a walk and in the morning I went home.

The pathologist later reported that I had a somewhat extensive Gleason 6 cancer but that it was all inside the prostate and all the surgical margins were clean. I am relieved that I did not wait.

SO.... here I am....feeling GREAT... only three weeks after surgery. The day after surgery I was home from the hospital, and several days ago, my catheter was removed. I've been running around, where my brother was still bedbound and taking narcotic analgesics at this stage. He hasn't exactly said so, but it's very clear he wishes he had had the option I chose.

I suppose it's obvious that Dr. Krongrad has gifted hands and a class bedside manner. If that is not enough, though, he also has an office that immediately makes you feel that you're home. Friendly, warm, responsive, efficient, courteous, effective, supportive … what else can I say about Ruth and Hope?

Just one more important note: if you remember, my brother lost about a liter and a half of blood in surgery. I lost 20cc and went home with four round baby band aids covering my incisions (if you could call them that!!!).

I would like to end just by saying God bless Dr. Krongrad, Dr. Hanabergh, my internist, Ruth, Hope, and Sara, the anesthesiologist, and everyone who helped me during this difficult time. They gave me the BEST new year's gift.... my life again. I will be forever grateful.

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A very young man understands the risks for prostate cancer examines his own options 

for prostate cancer surgery.