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Photos Photo of Papau New Guinea  
A Prostate Cancer Survivor Explores Papau New Guinea



You may remember that around the time of my prostate surgery I said it was my hope to recover rapidly enough to be able to climb a 14er by the end of August. I'm proud to say that despite having my fitness training put on hold for 2 weeks in July because of cataract surgery restrictions, I did indeed manage to get into good enough shape to climb Torreys Peak (14,270 feet) this past Wednesday, the 28th (almost exactly 3 months after the surgery)! And even though the section of climb from the saddle between Gray's and Torreys is a challenging Class II route up a pretty steep slope (roughly 40 degrees), I was able to make the entire ascent fairly easily and had no significant aches/pains/fatigue either during the climb or the day after.

Please feel free to use my story (and photos below) as needed to reassure future Prostate Cancer victims...and Radical Prostatectomy candidates/patients in general...that there is indeed life after a cancer diagnosis and that a Prostatectomy (at least one done with your skills) won't keep them from taking on strenuous physical challenges. Hopefully what I achieved can serve as an inspiration/motivation for at least one of your other patients. Mountain

Warmest regards,
Here are some photos from the climb.










I was seventy years old when diagnosed by biopsy as having prostate cancer. Six weeks from that diagnosis I elected to have a robotically assisted radical prostatectomy. During the interval between diagnosis and surgery, I avidly read and evaluated as much information as I could.

By the date for my surgery I reached the following conclusions:

                  1. Active surveillance or expectant management was not acceptable because of my chronic prostate problems (BPH for 25-30 years and urinary tract infections with increasing frequency).

Possibly adding several years before deciding to remove the cancer could only make recovery from surgery more difficult thereby constraining the options available to me. Further, there was a high probability that my cancer was currently contained within the prostate capsule, and a prolonged period of waiting would only raise the chances of metastasis.

                  2. Radiation therapy was not acceptable to me because of the nature of side effects and the extended period of uncertainty between treatment and definitive evaluation of its effectiveness.

                  3. Given a malignancy confined to the prostate, once the organ is surgically removed the probability of undetected cancer remaining is very low. Additionally, the nature of side-effects from surgery seemed most manageable when performed by a highly experienced, skilled surgeon. Finding that surgeon became my primary objective.

I am definitely above the age where a radical prostatectomy is shown to have a measurable effect on longevity, and that will probably be an unanswerable question.

However, I am certain my quality of life has improved.

Foremost, I have the peace of mind knowing my cancer was removed, with little reasonable expectation of metastasis. That means my cancer is gone, and not just controlled or in remission. Removal of the prostate has also very likely eliminated the primary source of my urinary tract infections.

The post-operative side effects are, on the whole, minimal to nonexistent.

My urinary function is amazingly improved. I almost never have any urine leakage and have stopped wearing absorbent pads. I have excellent ability to hold my urine without uncontrollable urgency. My urine flow is now like that of the proverbial racehorse.

Following surgery my bowel function seemed somewhat impaired. I had frequent feelings of being unable to completely empty my bowel. Within the six months that has passed, that sensation has passed and I feel that my function is as it was prior to surgery.

Sexual function is the only area that is impaired. My libido is noticeably reduced. Nocturnal erections are at best flaccid. Erections during sexual arousal are hardly more that extensions of the penis. The most unfortunate effect, however, is that when I start to become aroused I spurt urine uncontrollably. This will occur several times and seems to be about a milliliter. This problem, I¹m certain, feeds back to my libido as a strong inhibitory influence.

Taken as a whole, my quality of life is much better following my prostatectomy. The only real Œhit¹ is in my sexual function, but then, I¹m seventy years old and my sexual performance wasn¹t all that spectacular prior to surgery.

I¹m aware there is considerable debate regarding performing radical prostatectomies in older patients. I would like to provide my case as one point in that ongoing discussion.