Michael Penny and Heather live in Virginia, USA. Michael was 51 when he was diagnosed on August 1, 2005. His initial PSA was 6.5 ng/ml, his Gleason Score 6 and his staging was T1c. His initial choice of treatment is wait, diet, homeopathy. Here is his story.
I always felt very healthy. I have been a runner for 30 years. I practice yoga and meditate regularly. My diet is pretty good, and I never expected that I would have anything "wrong" with me.
When my PSA tests showed a high score at my annual physical, I was re-tested and then given a biopsy. I am the last person one would expect to have cancer, given how well I take care of myself. However, of the 12 cores that were taken at the biopsy, 2 showed signs of cancer, albeit at an early stage.
It has been only 2 weeks since finding out about the cancer, and I have read a lot about the prostate since then. I realize that cancer kills people, and watchful waiting is not that useful without some life changes. What I have done so far is to reduce my intake of fruit and sweets, and I have seen a big change in the urgency around urination.
I am seeing a homeopathic physician, one who is well regarded around here--Dr. George Guess, also an MD. I am also intending to follow the metabolic typing diet. For my type it means eating more protein, less carbohydrate, and focusing on high quality foods.
I can't report any success as I haven't done it yet, but I am optimistic.
Since being diagnosed with cancer in August, 2005, here are my PSA scores:
Nov-04 - 5.0 ng/ml: Apr-05 - 6.5 ng/ml: Jun-05 - 6.7 ng/ml: Oct-05 - 4.8 ng/ml: Jan-06 - 5.6 ng/ml: May-06 - 7.7 ng/ml: Aug-06 - 7.3 ng/ml
I had a follow up biopsy in August, 2006. In comparison to my biopsy 13 months earlier, results were a little better, albeit negligibly better. In 2005 two cores were positive. In 2006 only one core was positive, with 5% cancer, same percentage as 2005. I have done a number of things since 2005.
Primarily I have changed my diet. I had been eating a lot of fruit and other sweet things, but not much processed stuff, and practically no processed sugar. No donuts or junk food, just fruit and "health bars" for the most part.
Through my reading and experience it was clear that too much sweet in any form created an imbalance in my system and aggravated the urgency to urinate. I also felt like it geared me a little toward candida. In my non-medical opinion candida aggravates cancer. What I have been eating is more grain and more vegetables and far less sweet, even less fruit. All these changes have helped to balance my system.
I have also taken homeopathic remedies prescribed by my doctor. At this time I am alternating between two remedies.
I also came upon a natural substance called Zeolite. Apparently it has helped "cure" cancer in a number of people. I just started with it a month ago. It is supposed to release heavy metals from the body. I can't say that it is doing anything, but I'm still experimenting.
Most importantly I am practicing Chi Gong, a Chinese practice to help the flow of prana or Chi. I started in June and I have been very consistent. For me it is a lot better than yoga that I practiced for 30 years. It also has helped bring me more into balance.
I thank the universe that science has advanced to the point where they can diagnose prostate cancer early and actually have several forms of treatment that we are fortunate enough to choose from.
At the same time, according to my belief system, subject to change, it is very important to me that I experiment with how I can alter my life so that the cancer does not spread. It is evident to me that it is not that cancer invaded me; it's more likely that I led a cancerous lifestyle. Therefore, removing the symptom of cancer (a tumor) is only removing the symptom. If I lead a cancerous lifestyle, then cancer will re-emerge someplace else.
That's not to say that I would not have a prostatectomy if my PSA continues to rise or a biopsy shows a worse condition. I would definitely do a prostatectomy under those conditions. However, I think it's better to alter the cancerous lifestyle, and I think I am at least partially successful at that.
Finally, one thing that my urologist and my college roommate (a nurse who had laproscopic surgery) both told me is this: "You have cancer. You know that isn't going to go away."
The truth is that I have heard of dozens of people who have cured themselves of cancer and other diseases, too many people to say it was just a few flaky people. I am not claiming that I have cured cancer in myself or even that I will be cured. As I said, I would have surgery if I felt that I wasn't making progress. However, I do have a dream that cancer goes into remission enough in my body so that I can request that my doctor and my good friend not say to other people that cancer will not go away. Here and now I want to claim that it's possible for me to be one of the people who is cured.
If it doesn't turn out that way, I can accept that. If I never try to be one who is cured, I would feel like I missed an opportunity...to be me.
Finally, I did find one thing that helped recovery from the biopsy. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy. In 2005 for some reason I didn't take it before or right after the biopsy. I had a little blood in my semen for 5 weeks. In 2006 I knew what the biopsy was like and what recovery was like. Blood in the semen lasted only about 3 weeks. Arnica is natural and has no side effects.
Since October 2006, I have continued to have my PSA monitored, and all my scores were between 6.5 and 7.8.
The expense and bother and worry caused me to schedule an appointment to have robotic surgery done in September, 2007. I was also inspired by my college roommate, a nurse, who had surgery a year ago. He essentially told me it was no big deal, and all his functioning was normal one month after surgery.
In August, 2007, I had my pre-operative appointment, and I was ready to have the surgery done.
I cannot say what changed my mind, but information (below) came to me, which was critical. I spoke with my urologist, and the information was confirmed. So I did not go ahead with the surgery and instead had a biopsy. The biopsy in September, 2007 was the same result as two years before - two positive cores, one 5% and one 1%.
The following is only my understanding of prostate cancer volume. I am NOT a scientist or physician, and I am not promoting my own way of thinking. Ask your doctor for a better explanation.
I think of the prostate as a room that's about 12' x 12'. When they do a traditional prostate biopsy, it's as if they are taking out 12 pencil size pieces. When I was told that two samples were positive, one 5% and one 1%, that meant that 1/20 of one pencil and 1/100 of one other pencil had some cancer cells. It does not mean that 5% and 1% of the sample were cancerous. It could be that only 5% of the 5% of the sample was cancer, or it could mean that 50% of the 5% was cancerous. This is an extremely small amount of material relative to the size of the prostate.
As I thought it through, a few things became clear:
1. If the only danger of cancer is when it goes outside the prostate, the volume of cancer in my prostate is extremely low volume and not a risk right now.
2. If it's true that most older men have some level of prostate cancer and die with it, then I could be one of them.
3. Because it's slow growing, and such incredibly small volume, once I visualized it, it didn't make any sense to go in and scoop out an entire organ when there is practically no danger if it is monitored.
4. As a businessman, it occurred to me that perhaps doctors encourage the surgery for their own benefit, or perhaps because not treating could bring on lecherous lawyers looking to sue for negligence. Shameless statement about our culture, but true.
Over the past year I have continued to have my PSA monitored. It went as low as 4.0 on one reading, but mostly it has hovered in the 6.5 range. I have a biopsy scheduled again for Feb. 20, 2009. I have gone from 4 PSA readings a year to 3, and it will have been 18 months since my last biopsy. My overall health has been good, so my urologist has endorsed these changes to my plan.
I do not regard myself as a cancer patient. I am not in denial. There is cancer in my prostate, but at this point I don't think I'll die from that. What is most important is my overall health. I have continued to experiment with various alternative treatments, none of which thus far has fundamentally altered the PSA readings or the biopsies. I've had 3 biopsies thus far.
The most successful alternative therapy I had is called Colorpuncture. It was begun by Peter Mandell who has a clinic in Cologne, Germany. Wonderful clinic. I never believe any alternative stuff until it makes a difference. I had two treatments there and continue to treat at home. For the past 8 - 12 years I have had fairly poor sleep-- waking up too early, not being able to get back to sleep, and dragging myself through the day. I think I was missing some deep sleep. After treatments I have been sleeping much better for 3 months now and rarely need a nap. I feel like a new man. I am much healthier now. Mr. Mandell said that it had to do with the flow of lymph in my body.
For me it reinforced my belief that the body is a complex system of complex systems. Scientists knows a lot about the body, but there is 100 times more that they don't know. Not to diminish what they know. Heck, I'd be dead by now if it weren't for the work of devoted scientists.
Nonetheless, I don't believe at this point that in my body cancer will run amok and take over as long as I can maintain my overall health....and I believe I can.
In response to a reminder, Michael said:
I'm having a biopsy on September. 9; and I'll have results the following week. So if you can hold on for about three weeks, we'll have something more reliable and, I think, more helpful.
Since January 2009, my last YANA update, I have continued to have my PSA checked. It has continued to range from 6.0 †“ 8.0 for the most part. Once it rose into the 9.0 range after I had a bad cold. At the time of that test I had a terrible problem with urgency; it was very painful. We also had the same blood tested at our local hospital, and it came back 10.1.
Of course I was worried, and my urologist wanted to see me again in 6 weeks. I was very strict with my diet during that time, and my PSA dropped to around 6.0. It gave me more confidence that I can influence the progression of the cancer.
Since my initial diagnosis five years ago, I come to several conclusions that I believe are true for me:
1. I have a lot of control around how I feel. If my diet is excellent†”no processed sweets, minimum fruit, and otherwise healthy, balance foods†”the disease will not progress.
2. What matters most for comfort and disease management is my overall health. If I focus on my optimum health and well being, I†™ll die from something other than prostate cancer.
3. I don†™t even know what optimum health is, but I know a lot of the factors that contribute to it. Everyone knows: diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, love, self-expression†”all in balance at different times.
On September 9, 2010 I had my last biopsy. One core out of 12 was positive, Gleason 6, with less than 5% of the core positive. This is happy news for me and my family. Although every time in the past two cores were positive and only one was positive this time, my urologist has told me that I should not interpret it that healing has happened, just that he didn†™t strike a second positive core, and that the disease has not progressed.
I do have two suggestions for any biopsy:
1. I still encourage anyone receiving a biopsy to take Arnica before and afterwards to reduce swelling.
2. Also my urologist used 10 mg. of †œnovacaine† instead of 5 mg. OMG, if the needles hurt too much, ask for more novacaine. If a dentist can numb your gums with enough stuff to work on your teeth, a urologist should be able to numb your prostate. This also reduces some swelling. It†™s not fun when the novacaine wears off, but it†™s less traumatizing than not having enough novacaine.
Although I am not trained in urology, and I am not qualified to give medical advice, I would discourage anyone with low volume cancer from having a prostatectomy. Get a second opinion from a urologist who does not routinely remove the prostate in all cases.
After 5 years, other than the discomfort of blood in my semen after biopsy for about 3 weeks, along with the biopsy itself, I have enjoyed good health overall. At 56 years old that†™s a lot to be grateful for. On top of that, I still have my prostate. Although I do experience urgency, I still have a lot of control; and there is no loss of libido or performance.
Remember that urologists, although almost always sincere and wishing us well, have a conflict of interest when it comes to surgery. There are two reasons for that:
1. They make a lot more money by doing surgery than by doing biopsies. [There has been some discussion recently that a urologist would welcome a man practising Active Surveillance since this would generate a greater fee over time. None of the calculations I have seen bear this out: surgery and other conventional therapies generate a very substantial cash flow.]
2. As long as prostatectomy is the recommended treatment for all prostate cancer patients, regardless of the volume, urologists need to be concerned about not following the standard treatment and getting sued. Therefore, they routinely recommend prostatectomy. [There has been a substantial change in this basic aspect of treatment over recent years. There is a more widespread acceptance that Active Surveillance may well be a more appropriate choice in Low Risk diagnoses in the light of studies that demonstrate very high levels of unneccessary treatment - see Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment After the Introduction of Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening: 1986 †“ 2005]
If you have low volume prostate cancer, give yourself time before making a decision, and consider getting other opinions.
Michael's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org