By Steve Frohman
I’ll never forget that night. It was May of 2007, early on a Friday evening at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. The mood of the group was festive, celebrating the retirement of a business associate.
I felt apprehension, as it was still late afternoon in Phoenix. I nervously anticipated a phone call from my urologist with my latest biopsy results. This was my third biopsy over a 15-year period of time. I had a history of an enlarged prostate and high PSA scores, ever since my first PSA test in my mid 40s. When my cell phone vibrated, I quickly stepped into the ballroom foyer to take the call.
Dr. Bans let me know the results of the biopsy were positive, indicating cancer had been found. Although no cancer is good, he explained that my cancer was a less aggressive form. This meant there was time to evaluate and select the best treatment method for my situation. I know he intended this information to be somewhat comforting, and it was in a small way. The fact still remained that I had cancer.
Over the next few weeks and months, I worked closely with Dr. Bans, my wife Cindie and a close friend to put a plan in place. I wanted to further understand and evaluate my situation, select a treatment option and undergo treatment. The treatment I ultimately selected was surgery, and my prostate was removed six months later. I have been cancer free ever since.
Here are six tips to consider if you receive the news of a positive biopsy. While I’m not a medical provider, these ideas have been accumulated from my experience and talking with a number of prostate cancer survivors.
- Take personal responsibility for your treatment decisions. There is no one course of action that is right for everyone. Every treatment comes with its share of plusses and minuses. Determining what is best for your situation is ultimately your responsibility.
- Talk with others who have undergone treatment. Some of the most insightful information I received was from those who had been treated for prostate cancer.
- One second opinion is often not enough. If you evaluate different treatment options, get the opinion of a specialist in each treatment alternative. While physicians pride themselves in making recommendations in the best interests of their patients, they are most familiar with the treatments they offer and are in the best position to address issues concerning those treatments.
- Select a doctor and treatment facility that has a high volume of patients. You want someone who performs the procedure frequently and specializes in the individual treatment area you select. Ask providers about volumes, their history of results and potential side effects.
- Anticipate an emotional impact. Be open and share your feelings with others. Let those closest to you understand what you’re going through so they can best support you.
- Understand the spiritual being within you. Although prostate cancer survival rates are extremely high, I found myself thinking about my own mortality. I gained a fresh perspective on what’s important in life and made some adjustments.
Click to learn more about Steve’s story. We also invite you to leave a comment with your experiences and tips.