Not only did Jon B. have prostate cancer, he had a prostate specific antigen (PSA) level of 44 and a Gleason score of 10. In the world of cancer diagnoses, these numbers are off the charts. A PSA above four is considered suspicious, while a PSA over 20 is considered to be an extremely high level of elevation. The Gleason score, a numerical grade based on tumor patterns, ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 as the most serious prognosis.
Jon wasn’t completely blindsided. There had been symptoms – the need to urinate two or three times per night, the lengthier amount of time required to empty his bladder and a weakened urine stream. He had never experienced any pain.
Just shy of his 71st birthday during his annual checkup, Jon was informed his PSA had elevated to 16. His primary care physician let Jon know this may be due to inflammation and to come back in 30 days.
After a month, Jon’s PSA grew to 27. Immediately, Jon’s primary care physician referred him to Dr. Parminder Sethi of Pacific Urology. Dr. Sethi found that Jon had white blood cells in his urine, signifying a potential infection. After taking antibiotics for two weeks and another PSA test, his PSA grew to 44.
Of the 12 biopsies conducted, 10 were found to be cancerous. A body scan revealed good news – the cancer had not spread to his bones or lungs.
“I was grateful that the cancer had not spread, but deep down I was angry,” Jon said. “Very angry. Angry that I had worked hard to be healthy my entire life, and yet here I was, diagnosed with prostate cancer.”
Dr. Sethi immediately placed Jon on hormone suppression therapy, decreasing his testosterone to starve his cancer and decrease his PSA. While the hormone suppressants weakened his cancer before treatment, Dr. Sethi also provided Jon with priceless additional armor – knowledge.
Jon read both of the books Dr. Sethi recommended from cover to cover, determined to select the treatment option best for him. He didn’t want to pursue a surgical option due to the recovery time required. The option had to be effective, incur minimal side effects, and he did not want it to drastically affect his physical, sexual and mental health.
Through his studies and discussions with Dr. Sethi, Jon learned of a new technology called Calypso which targets radiation through trigonometric measurements within the accuracy of one millimeter. Compared to treatments in years past, prostate cancer technology has advanced exponentially. Ten years ago radiation treatment for the prostate encompassed a sizable area of the abdomen. Six years ago radiated areas were targeted to the size of a grapefruit.
Prior to Calypso treatment, three glass encapsulated transmitter beads that react to the presence of radiation are placed evenly throughout the prostate. These beads serve as GPS markers, allowing radiation beams to focus on cancerous areas while leaving healthy tissue unaffected. After careful research and discussing treatment options with his wife, Jon decided to move forward with the Calypso technology.
“After doing research, the decision to use Calypso was a simple one,” says Jon. “This is a state-of-the-art procedure all men need to consider when weighing radiation treatment options.”
For nine weeks, Jon underwent five 20-minute treatment sessions per week. Extremely active and undeterred by his diagnosis, Jon continued to attend his two baseball leagues on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He chose to keep his diagnosis private, confiding only in his coach.
He remembers standing in the dugout the day after his diagnosis. The baseball field now looked completely different. He was the same person he had been for every other game, but things had changed. Many of his teammates had survived cancer, but this time they weren’t the ones battling the disease. He was. Looking at the field, three sentences ran through Jon’s head. “I have cancer. I have cancer. I have cancer.”
As the weeks passed and treatment continued, Jon confided his diagnosis to a teammate. To his surprise, he learned his teammate had also been a patient of Dr. Sethi during his bladder cancer diagnosis. His teammate’s words spoke volumes: “Don’t worry, you are in good hands.”
Jon’s treatment was blissfully uneventful. By the eighth week of his treatment, he occasionally needed a 30-minute nap after radiation. He was grateful his time didn’t involve discomfort, incontinence or missing out on life. He credits the kind treatment and evident concern, competence and courtesies received from Dr. Sethi and the Pacific Urology staff with his swift recovery.
In December, Jon will celebrate 50 wonderful years of marriage. Since treatment, each of his PSA tests has been normal. Best of all, Jon’s life-long health has been restored. Unlike many others his age, Jon does not have high blood pressure, obesity or diabetic symptoms. No longer silent about his experiences, Jon feels obligated to share his story in order to help others.
“The new Calypso technology healed me,” Jon explains. “Looking back, I truly feel that God guided me to Dr. Sethi. I am grateful he empowered me with the knowledge to make my own decision, but helped steer me in the right direction. Because of his help, I am thriving today.”