Choosing To Kill Cancer

WARNING: THE DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS BLOG TEND TO GET VERY GRAPHIC AND PERSONAL AND MIGHT BE EMBARRASSING FOR THE AVERAGE READER. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN CHOICE.

After the shock of learning I had prostate cancer my doctor sent me five web-pages of information regarding cancer and its cure(s).  I read the sites thoroughly. For your information I am including the list of sites here:

“Here is a place to start.”  Dr. Taylor

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prostatecancer.html

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/prostate

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/CRI_2_3x.asp?rnav=cridg&dt=36

http://www.pcf.org/site/c.leJRIROrEpH/b.5699537/k.BEF4/Home.htm

http://www.cancer.gov/

I thoroughly explored each of these sites. It was amazing the amount of information I absorbed in just a few hours. I saw that my options were surgery, radiation, chemo-therapy, or hormone therapy. The one important fact was that if I elected for radiation, chemo, or hormone therapy, surgery would NOT be an option any more.  This made surgery seem the most likely first step. What if the radiation, chemo, or hormone therapy failed to kill the cancer? Then what?

An old friend of mine, Landmark Forum Leader, Randy McNamara had prostate cancer back in the 90’s. I called him for his advice. Randy simply insisted that I NOT get all upset and hopeless over the fact that I had CANCER. He referred it to a “pimple” on my prostate.  He said he had elected not to do surgery, but other methods, and that he was cancer-free.  My old, high school chemistry/physics teacher, Mr. Grissom, emailed me too.  He also had prostate cancer five years ago, and didn’t go for the surgery but went with the radiation “seed” method.  He also was a cancer survivor.  Thanks to my emailing, a mutual friend introduced me to another gentlemen who also had prostate cancer. His was at Stage IV and more advanced.  He shared something that really brought me peace of mind.  He said this reminded him of when he was serving in the Army in Vietnam.  He realized that he was most likely going to die over there.  Once he reconciled with this fact, he said he became very peaceful and serene.  I looked for myself, and told him I felt the same peace.  If I was going to die, I was going to die.  I would fight to stay alive, just like he did in Vietnam, BUT it wasn’t something to be upset about.  What would be, would be.  I thanked him for his sharing.  I found myself at peace with my cancer.

As I continued to study the web-sites, I learned that the prostate was a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder, wrapped around the uretha which ran from the bladder to the penis.  Because of the close proximity of the nerve bundles which control bladder function and erectile function, prostate surgery brought the risks severing these nerve bundles and loosing control of the bladder and sexual function permanently.  The question was, what was my priority, living or peeing or screwing?  I chose living.  I met a few older gentlemen who had the surgery over 10 years ago.  They confided in me that they HAD lost their sexual ability, BUT that wasn’t the only thing to live for, and encouraged me to get the surgery. 

While I was reading on these procedures I received emails from some of the fellow civil engineers at my company. (These were the people I was at first reluctant to share about my disease with. Ironically, they gave me some of the most useful information.)  Both Kris Weber and Ted Frattone recommended I check out these web-sites all about the miracle of microscopic computer-aided robotic surgery:

http://www.davincisurgery.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotic_surgery

The Da Vinci Robotic System

After weighing my options and studying up on these robotic systems, I decided to go with the robotic computer-aided micro-surgery, or the DaVinciSurgery System.  The video testimonials were very encouraging.  The microscopic surgery would leave only five, 1-2 centimeter wide incisions.  Many patients were able to leave the hospital the next day.  One fellow claimed he was running marathons one week later.  This started to intrigue me.  The idea of being up and running around in one week.  The computer imagery magnified the tissues many times, and the robotic arms and hands had all of the dexterity and sensitivity of a surgeon’s bare hands, only enhanced by the robotics. The more I studied of this system 

Star Wars Robot from Episode IV

the more inspired I became.  It looked like one of the robots in the film Star Wars: Episode IV.  The robot had several arms.So did the DaVinci system.  A team of surgeons would perform the operation, it would only take around 4 hours, and recovery time was faster because the procedure was not as invasive as being opened up.  These systems were very expensive, costing around $2 million each.  I started to locate where these systems were located.  I found there was one in Mission Viejo, and another in Newport Beach, California.  Two weeks later on my birthday, December 16th, I went to Dr. Taylor for my appointment.  It was here where I was to make the decision of how I was going to cure my cancer.  My wife, Vicki, accompanied me and as we sat down to chat, he asked If I had any questions.  I began to rattle off everything I had learned over the past nine days.  The doctor was surprised.  I told him I was electing for the surgery.  He was pleased at my choice.  I told him I preferred the DaVinci system and he was very pleased to tell me that we had this system at Saddleback Memorial Hospital in the City of Laguna Hills, where he practiced and where I

lived.  In fact, the hospital was only a few blocks from my house.  Dr. Taylor expressed how refreshing it was to be dealing with an engineer.  He said, I was being very pragmatic and logical about it, and had obviously thoroughly done my homework.  He warned me that until they got inside, he wouldn’t know how dense or crowded the nerve bundles were, and that even with the microscopic robotic surgery there was the risk of losing bladder control and erectile function.  I told him rather than electing to “wait and see” I wanted the cancer taken out.  “Wait and see if I die?  No thanks!” I joked.  The doctor said that without the surgery I could live with the prostate cancer another 10 years. (Die at 68? No way I thought)  With the surgery I could live another 20 years (Die at 78? No way I thought, both of my parents were 85, and my Auntie Alice was turning 100 this summer)  The doctor said the surgery would increase my survival chances up to 85%.  I noted that this was lower than the 98% he had quoted

The Da Vinci Robotic Arms

weeks ago.  Talking about my life as a finite phenomenon was a bit unnerving.  I realized I was the person in charge of this, no one else.  While he was glancing through my chart he asked the name of the engineering firm I worked for.  I told him Hunsaker & Associates.  He asked if I knew a Tom McGannon.  I replied yes, that before he had retired in 2000 Tom McGannon was one of my principals.  Dr. Taylor smiled widely and informed me he had just returned from a golfing vacation in Kauai with his good friend Tom and Kelly McGannon.  What a small world this was.  With that our meeting was finished, and Dr. Taylor again asked me to call in to his scheduler and schedule my surgery.  Given it was the holiday season, and that again he said there was “no hurry” I elected to do the surgery on February 3rd, rather on December 30th as was available.  I wanted a few weeks to try other ways of eliminating my cancer.  Other “homeopathic” ways which I had also begun reading about.

To be continued

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