Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Freedom At Last!

Just got back from the doctor's office and the catheter is gone! Woo-hoo. A few men have to get it reinserted if normal function doesn't return within 8 hours. But I have already had one trip to the men's room (sorry, too much info again) so I think I'm OK.

The nurse removed one of the two remaining staples. However, a small spot at the top of my incision, just below the belly button, is not healing as fast as the rest of the incision. They said this may have to heal from the inside out, but were not concerned. It seems to not be infected. I just have to keep it clean and dry.

I was a bit disappointed that Dr. Gaylis was not in today, so I did not get the final pathology. But I know what it says. All margins clear with one ambiguous spot at the apex (lower part of the prostate where it meets the sphincter). Pathologists suspects the margin was invaded, but Dr. Gaylis disagrees. I think they are arm wrestling over the final report. I go back on October 10, and will get the final version then. I am sure that I am healed, so I am not worrying about this.

Thank you all again and again for your care, l;over and prayers. The journey is not over. Today was a major milestone.

Praise God, and Thank You, Lord, for your loving kindness.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Praise

The past couple days, I have had an overwhelming sense of wellness. It is amazing that after such major surgery, I am getting back to a feeling of normalcy so quickly.

For men in my situation, there are two major concerns. First, was the cancer contained? Getting the cancer before it spreads outside the prostate is critical. For my case, it appears we were able to catch it in time.

The second major concern after dealing with cancer is the issue of continence. I know this is not pleasant to talk about, but it is an important "quality of life issue". I will not know until the catheter is removed on Tuesday (15 days after surgery) how well my continence (or lack thereof) has been preserved. I know Dr. Gaylis walked a fine line between getting all the cancer and preserving my ability to control urinary function. Most men are incontinent after surgery, but improve over weeks, months and even years.

I leave this matter in the hands of a loving, caring God. Whatever the outcome, I praise God for blessing me with healing and wholeness. And I thank you for your prayers and concerns as focus changes from the major issue to a relatively minor issue after my visit to the doctor on Tuesday.

Friday, September 26, 2008


God is so good.All is well. I had a little setback this morning, but expect there will be good days and not so good ones. I am learning to be patient.

I continue to look forward to next week when I should regain my independence from "the tether".

Not much new to report, so here is hoping you have a great weekend.

Bless you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday Update

I have a strong sense of wellness today. Each day, I can tell I'm getting better and stronger. It is no longer difficult to get up and down in bed or in the recliner. I can tell the incision is healing well, too. Of course, everything is relative, and I know this is a long process. But I am amazed at how well things are going. There is no pain at all, only occasional discomfort.

By this time next week, I hope to have the final pathology report. Dr. Gaylis is confident he got all the cancer. There was one tiny point in the "apex" of the prostate where he and the pathologist differed on their interpretation of a "clean margin" (meaning the cancer has or has not penetrated the edge of the prostate). Think of it as an orange: Was the cancer all inside the orange, or had it penetrated the orange peel? So they will take a closer look under the microscope to get a better reading. Obviously, we hope they find it was a clean margin, and have faith that will be the end of my treatments.

This whole experience has given me a testimony of faith and healing I wish to share with others for the rest of my life.

May God grant you health, wholeness and love today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Progress

All but one staple came out yesterday. The trip to the doctor's office wore me down a bit. I like to think I'm further along the road to healing than is the case. But all in all, I am amazed at how fast I am recovering. Healing just takes time.

This morning, I feel better than ever. The pain has been amazingly low. The one incident last week, where for about a half hour I was in considerable discomfort, may have been trapped gas or passing a blockage or clot. I had pain medication, and got through that just fine.

I'm trying to take over some of the basic tasks of my own care. Anita has been amazing, and I am now capable of doing some of the basics so she can focus on the bigger issues, and get her own tasks done. I love you!

I'll work in my home office half the day, and rest for healing as needed.

Hope you all enjoy a wonderful productive day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One Week Out

It was exactly one week ago that I was in the staging room getting ready to be rolled into the OR at Sharp Grossmont Hospital for a Radical Retropubic Prostatectomy (prostate cancer surgery).

One week later, here I sit in my office (well, my home office) checking my emails, taking care of matters I can handle remotely, and feeling amazingly well. Just gave myself a "sink bath" and shave. Was able to dress myself with one of the "body shirts" Anita got for me. They are perfect for me now, and very comfortable.

I feel great! I'm taking 20 minute walks around the house and back yard. Then rest, don't want to overdo it.

It has not been a picnic, but I have no complaints. To imagine that next Tuesday, when the catheter comes out, this will all begin to be a fading memory, is difficult to comprehend. I hope my experience will be an encouragement for a few of the quarter million men in America who learn they have this disease every year.

I cannot thank Anita enough for all her help and encouragement. PCa is as tough, if not tougher, on the caregiver than the patient.

Bless you,

William (Bill) Jenkins
Cancer Survivor - Four Months and One Week

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Next Milestones

On Monday, I will have about 17 staples removed from my incision.

On September 30, I am scheduled to have my catheter removed, and get the final pathology report from the lab. That will tell exactly how extensive the cancer was, and what, if any, escaped the prostate.

Today has been pretty good so far. Still taking it easy. Lots of healing needs to take place, and I must be patient. The pain has been very low since yesterday's incident at about 8:00 AM.

I am listening to my body as it tells me what it needs to recover.

Little things, like shaving and taking a "sink bath" are big deals right now. I was able to sit up all morning and watch my Mississippi State Bulldogs get annihilated by Georgia Tech.

Guess I will head back to bed for some rest. Don't want to overdo it.

Bless you, everyone.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I am home!

The surgery on Monday, September 15, was much more extensive than anticipated. It lasted 4 hours. Dr. Gaylis told me it took him two days to get over my surgery. He wasn't joking. The bottom line is my Guardian Angels helped pull me through, and Dr. Gaylis is very confident he got ALL the cancer! Doxology!!!

I spent 24 hours in ICU, not the normal recovery for Prostate Surgery. Lots of reasons why, but mostly my vitals all dropped dangerously low. More overtime for the Guardian Angels. Anita and Kimo were there to help see me through the rough times.

I have nothing but good to say about the doctors, nurses, and staff at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa. They gave me excellent care. And a special word of thanks to Dr. Gaylis and Dr. Dato who performed the surgery.

I got home about 1 PM yesterday (Thursday) and am taking it very easy. I am extremely weak, have bouts of dizziness and nausea, and wrestled with a pain level of 12 on a scale of 1 to ten this morning. In spite of giving two units of my own O- blood, I narrowly avoided having to be transfused.

I am surprised I have been able to sit up long enough to type this update...but know many of you want to know how things went.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude for your care, concern and prayers. While the doctors were busy bringing healing and wholeness to my weary body, the Guardian Angles reminded me how fortunate I am to have so many people who love me and care about me. They also said you clogged up the prayer lines in heaven. I will remember that for the rest of my life.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday - Show Time

Well, after such a long wait, I'm finally down to crunch time. In a few hours I'll head to the hospital, and the surgery will begin.

The last couple days have been dedicated to taking care of last minute details.

Anita, Kimo and I took Chris out to dinner last night. His birthday is Friday (the 19th), but this was the last time all of us could be together for such a meal.

My orders state no solid food after noon today. Just clear liquids. At four, I start drinking Golyte to flush out my system. And after midnight, nothing...not even water.

The schedule calls for us to be at the hospital by 5:30 AM tomorrow, and surgery will begin at 7:30. Dr. Gaylis said it will take two hours, but I know he was just trying to be reassuring. More likely, it will take three to four hours. I will be in la-la land, and time will not be my concern.

Thank you all for following these daily blogs. I'm looking forward to continuing them when I get home and on the road to recovery.

As I enter surgery, I will focus on the band of guardian angels whose help brought me to this point, and upon your prayers that have helped me find strength for this journey.

Bless you, everyone.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday Thoughts

The trip to the hospital went well yesterday. Chest X-ray, blood work and tons of paper work. That should be the last of my preparation. I got to see where I will check in and where my gurney ride will begin.

Blue Shield, my insurance provider, sent me a CD with what they call guided imagery. It has very restful music along with narration to calm my fears, focus on a successful surgery and quick recovery. It has helped more than I expected. Studies have shown that people who have a peaceful, positive approach to surgery have less pain and quicker recovery. I'm all for that!

I will be the first to confess that I do not "do sick" very well. My biopsy was a good (or bad) example. I get very grumpy when I am sick. So I hope to make this as positive an experience as possible.

I will attend the SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) IT Managers meeting downtown this morning, and then take care of last minute details at work this afternoon. Tomorrow if my Flex Friday, so when I leave work today, it will be the last time until I return in October.

Here is wishing you a day full of blessings and wellness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday Update

Doing very well today.

This afternoon I go to the hospital for the pre-op visit. Still have some blood work and chest X-ray to get done, but after that, it's all done. I am mentally and spiritually prepared. They asked that I bring my medical directive (somber thought - but necessary) and prescription medicines (easy one, as I only take thyroid medicine daily).

Not much else to say today. Hope you have a great one, and I'll let you know how it all goes tomorrow.

Bless you, all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Doctors

God works in mysterious ways. There is no doubt He blessed me with the perfect team of doctors to deal with my cancer.

It all began five years ago when I discovered (by accident, chest X-ray for bronchitis) that I had a benign tennis-ball size tumor in my chest. (Schwannoma - long story, not relevant here.) My friend David Burpeau referred me to his friend and physician, Dr. Brad Kesling, who saw me right away. Dr. Kesling continues to be my General Physician and friend. He is the one who first detected the worrisome prostate signs, and who made significant referrals, especially to Dr. Charles Kossman and Dr. Franklin Gaylis.

Dr. Kossman is my Oncologist. Shortly after meeting him five years ago, we discovered we are both from Mississippi. He is from Cleveland MS, where I went to college. After comparing notes, I recalled that I worked for his father when I was a college student. (See "Small Worlds") We established an instant bond. It was Dr. Kossman who insisted I not take the "wait and see" approach, but that I should have aggressive prostate cancer treatment. He too, is now a personal friend, and is the quarterback on my team of doctors, insuring I get immediate and excellent care. I cannot adequately express how fortunate I am to know Dr. Kossman.

Dr. Frank Gaylis, an outstanding Urologist from South Africa, has given me personal care. Dr. Gaylis and his associate, Dr. Dato, will perform my surgery next Monday. I know I will have the best care available to me in San Diego with these fine Urologists/Surgeons.

Dr. Reza Sharazi is my Radiologist, and if we find the cancer has spread, he and his staff will perform the treatments. Dr. Harold Copans, Cardiologist, has conducted numerous tests, and given me a green light for surgery.

The nice thing about this team is that they all know each other, and work closely together at Sharp Grossmont and Alvarado Hospitals in east San Diego. I feel blessed to have a hospital full of doctors working to get me on the road to health and wellness.

In writing this, I realize these are just names to most of you, but I wanted to share them with you. I consider them my friends as well as my physicians. And I do not think they would be offended by my saying, the lead doctor is The Great Physician.

Bless you, and bless the doctors and nurses who care so for many people in need.

Monday, September 8, 2008

One Week to Go!

Exactly one week from right now, I should be in the middle of surgery. I am first up at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa. I should arrive at 5:30 AM, and surgery is set to start at 7:30 AM. Hope by noon to be in the recovery room and on the way to healing.

I am doing very well. Still have periods of fatigue, but that is not so bad.

I have a busy schedule this last week before surgery. Most of the medical stuff is done, except for the hospital pre-op visit Wednesday afternoon. I'm trying to get the routine details tended to so I can rest and recover for the following two to three weeks.

If all goes as planned, I hope to return to work October 6 (giving me three full weeks to recover). I'm under no illusion that I'll be 100% by then, but just hope I will be mobile and able to return to work.

It has been gratifying to hear from friends from years ago, and new friends I have made in the HealingWell.com Prostate Cancer Forum. HealingWell is an online support group, and they have been awesome in supporting me through all this. Bless you, all!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday the Fifth

Doing very well today. I have heard from many of my high school classmates. Their words of encouragement and prayers are a true blessing to me.

Getting down to the single digits for days remaining until surgery.

Blue Cross called me this morning offering some pre-op services I find to be most helpful, including some guidelines and questions for pre and post surgery. They also are sending me a CD with relaxation therapy to prepare me for the operation. (I'll need that.)

I'm off in a few minutes to see two of my doctors. Next week, I will tell you a bit more about each of the wonderful physicians who have helped me along this pathway. I am extremely blessed to have such a fine team working for my well being...and for caring about one individual, because I know they have so many others who need care.

Of course, the lead doctor is The Great Physician!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Thoughts

Well I had the treadmill test and donated the second of two units of plama yesterday. (Two units in ten days, wow!) It is so good to have that behind me. I learned that my blood type is O negative (O-), one of the rarest. So now I know why they wanted me to have my own reserve ready if needed.

Tomorrow, I make my final rounds before surgery. Have appointments with Dr. Gaylis my Urologist/Surgeon for last minute details, and a visit with Dr. Kesling, my GP, where this whole odyssey began. Probably will have a chest X-Ray and one more EKG.

I'm noticing the numbness in my left leg and foot has returned, and the doctors are aware of it. Tests revealed nothing significant, as far as we can tell.

All things considered, I'm doing very well, physically and mentally.

On with the show!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Journey Recap

This is something mostly prostate cancer survivors and care givers understand, so I apologize for all the acronyms. Just thought I needed to document the journey so far by writing it down somewhere. And I know, "Too much information!"

April 2008 (Age 59 at diagnosis, discovered in UTI treatment)
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test:
PSA 4.4 - (4.0 and below is "normal")
DRE palpable tumor

May 15, 2008 – Biopsy
Pathology: 10 of 15 cores had cancer.
Right lobe (2 of 5 cores 40%) Gleason 3+3
Left lobe (3 of 5 cores 10%) Gleason 3+3
Right lesion (5 of 5 cores 100%) Gleason 3+3
Right base lesion (100%) Gleason 3+3
Right seminal vesical (ambiguous results - possible nerve involvement "lesion too small for grading")
Composite Gleason score 3+3=6 (On a scale of 2 to 10)
Bone scan and pelvic/abdomen CT show no visible metastasis
Began weight loss program (lost 26 pounds between diagnosis and surgery)
June 15, 2008 – Began two months hormone therapy (Casodex 50 mg)
July 1, 2008 – Trelstar HT shot (3 month dose)
July 11, 2008 – EKG, OK
July 16, 2008 – Echo-cardiogram, OK
Aug 25, 2008 – Donated first unit of my own plasma for surgery
Sept 3, 2008 – Stress test OK, and donated second unit of plasma
Sept 5, 2008 – Pre-op visits with Urologist and GP,
Sept 10, 2008 - Hospital Pre-Op Visit chest X-ray, one more EKG
Sept 15, 2008 – Open Radical Prostatectomy (Non-laproscopic, non-robotic)

After surgery, the doctors will get a better diagnosis on the Gleason score (may go up or down) and cancer stage (probably stage II or III). Future treatments hinge on those findings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Life Lesson from the Crab

Being born on June 22 made me a “Cancer the Crab”. (No, I am not going New Age, and never read my horoscope.) I never felt good saying “I am a Cancer” when on those rare occasions someone asked me “What’s your sign?” But it is now a bit ironic. Why couldn’t I have been born under the sign of the eagle, or a bulldog; or better yet, a catfish or oriole?

Having dealt with the knowledge I have cancer for a few months, a few things are beginning to sink in.

1. You learn you have cancer, but cancer does not have you (unless you let it). Self pity isn’t worth the effort.
2. You learn getting cancer is not a death sentence; it is a declaration of war! I am a survivor, not a victim.
3. You learn some folks are very uncomfortable and withdraw when they discover you have cancer…and that’s OK.
4. You learn some folks (often the most unexpected ones) draw closer, and perform amazing acts of grace and kindness.
5. You learn a cancer diagnosis allows you to reconnect with family and relatives, childhood friends, classmates, and colleagues from the past in a way that might otherwise have never happened.
6. You learn not to sweat the small stuff…even when your favorite football team starts the season with a loss.
7. You learn to celebrate the milestones; even Flag Day, and the little reminders that every day is a precious gift from God.
8. You learn it’s OK to cry; but even better to laugh. And you discover that there are some funny things about cancer; as serious as it is. (Example: Now that I am on hormone therapy, I will finally get to sing in the soprano section of the choir!)
9. You learn that long range plans are necessary; but short term plans are essential. Get on with doing those things you were saving up for retirement.

The calendar has finally rolled over to September, and in a few days, with God’s grace, I will fight and win an important battle in this war. With the help of so many people, especially Anita, I am ready!

And you know I cannot stop short with nine lessons. So here is the most important of all:

10. You learn that you ARE NOT cancer; and that “your sign” is an Empty Tomb, where Jesus so loved you, more than your closest friend or brother, and won the ultimate victory over sin, sickness, suffering and even death.