It is hard to have lived very long without knowing persons whose lives have been affected by some form of cancer. My mother died in her sixties from leukemia. My wife’s younger brother Norman, by all accounts, a wonderful young man died an early death from brain cancer. My good friend, Shirley and Cabell Brand, lost a son, John Pence, a vibrant incredible young man who contracted brain cancer in the prime of his life, just having fathered a young son. My wife, who never goes out without sunscreen, had a tiny spot on her hand that turned out to be melanoma which fortunately was caught in time. Two of my most wonderful colleagues were only saved by way of bone marrow transplants. A dear friend is a survivor from breast cancer. The daughter of a friend died of cancer while still a young adult. The list goes on.
In 2000 I discovered after a rise in PSA and a subsequent biopsy that I had prostate cancer. Even though I come from a medical family, father and grandfather physicians, mother a nurse, and brother, Dr. Richard Edlich, a disguised professor of medicine at UVA, I was not prepared with the prospect of having to research my own disease and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a number of treatment avenues. At the time these included surgery and removal of the prostate, radioactive seed implantation, radioactive seed implantation and external radiation, watchful waiting, cryogenics, After six months of personal research that included a book by a man who had been a prostate cancer survivor, I realized that the medical advice that you got from medical professionals often depended upon their particular specialty. Surgeons generally recommended surgery. Radiologists sided with seed implantation and some form of radiation. I wanted to make my own decision and not hand it over to the specialist whose office I was in at the time.
I elected radioactive seed implantation at the University of Virginia Medical center. I was torn. There was a North Carolina procedure that was more aggressive. They combined the seed implantation with external radiation. I was told that the results from both options were showing the same research results. Further, the North Carolina program would not have been fully covered by my insurance. I chose seed implantation on the basis of success history and a lower chance of incompetence and impotence. My fiancé who was 26 years younger had stuck with me after the diagnosis. If I lower the odds of a life of adult diapers and impotence it made sense to go that route. Having had friends who had low PSA scores and chose surgery only to have the cancer return it was a good choice. I have never looked back.
Whichever treatment is selected the ideal situation is for your cancer to be cured. The evidence is that after the procedure your PSA should be undetectable. Mine never returned to that level. In fact, within six months my PSA began to rise and was detected rising toward the 1.0 level. I returned to my physician and asked, “Well, what happens if my PSA continues to rise. He said, “If it rises beyond 2.0, it means that the procedure has failed!” End of story.
While I was at UVA I got to know the nurses well in the urology department. I had to make several trips back to Charlottesville to get a catheter put in or taken out since the inflammation from the radioactivity had swollen up my urethra and made it hard to pee. One of my main nurses let me in on the goings on in the department. They told me of this physician, Dr. Charles Meyers, who went by the nickname, Snuffy, who was always hold up in his office with patient who had not been cured by the options at hand. He had them on diets of supplements and other concoctions. More important, he had had advanced prostate cancer and cured himself by going outside the bounds of approved treatment and subjecting himself to the most aggressive treatment possible. He was the physician of those not initially cured in the prostate cancer arena.
Dr. Meyers had been a colleague of my brothers at the Medical School and Dick had a great respect for him. By the time, I was facing the prospects of being among the prostate cancer treatment failures, Dr. Meyers had set up his own American Institute for Disease of the Prostate in Earlysville, Virginia devoted to “solving the puzzle of comprehensive cancer care”. His patients come from all over the United States and abroad as far away as Australia.
Dr. Meyers from the start was aggressive in his treatment of my condition advocating use of a variety of supplements and medications, supplemented by dietary recommendations, that since my treatment began are now widely accepted. My PSA did not climb above 2.0 until 2014 at which time he recommended experimental imaging to detect any growth beyond the prostate. For the last 8 months I have been on an aggressive dose of three new prescriptions of female hormones that has brought the PSA to an undetectable level. Now off those drugs, the goal is to use the “miracle” drug metaformin to maintain it at that level. All along Dr. Meyers plan to be aware of the latest research and bring that into play in my care. I am convinced that I am alive today because of Dr. Meyers.
As anyone who has had cancer or a massive heart attack can tell you it is a wakeup call. It makes one aware of one’s mortality in a dramatic way. It also makes one aware of the incredible gift of being alive that cannot be taken for granted. It helps one to focus on what is truly important in life. For me it led me to focus on making sure each day I was making a maximum contribution to others through my work, family and relations. It makes me incredible grateful for the wonders of my life and each precious day.I have hiked mountains and canyons that I might never climbed. I awake with an eagerness to see what each day will bring. I am indeed blessed.