2018 was a very successful year for VerySuperCool Tools and Sue and I can’t thank our customers enough. I apologize that I didn’t upload any new footage to my AskWoodMan YouTube channel this year, I didn’t spend much time in my shop at all. My priority was focusing on my health and a running our fast growing tool company.
I also want to thank all of our customers for your kind words and support regarding my health. As I said, VerySuperCools had an amazing year and we couldn’t have done it without you all. Sue and I really appreciate your business. And of course a big thanks to my YouTube and Facebook friends and followers for the supportive texts, emails, and phone calls. It really meant a lot to me how many of you reached out and voiced concern for me.
The good news is that today I am cancer-free and I feel fantastic!
I feel fortunate and extremely grateful that I made it through this long and stressful year of treatments, tests, procedures, and surgery.
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2018. I chose not to post about my condition until I had more information. But now I want to share my experience and perhaps be a resource for others.
It started with a routine physical which showed that my PSA number had dramatically jumped from my last check. It was 12.0.
My urologist felt certain I had cancer, but the only way to know for sure was to have a prostate biopsy, so that’s what I did next. The biopsy showed that I had mildly aggressive stage 2.5 prostate cancer.
Then I had to decide my next course of action. I started researching and discovered Proton Therapy which looked very promising. I made an appointment with Dr. Steven J. Frank, the head of Radiation Oncology at the at MD Anderson’s Proton Therapy Center.
The first thing Dr. Frank recommended was a hormone therapy shot, which would not only stop cancer from growing but also shrink the cancer cell which would give me time for further testing. Testosterone doesn’t cause prostate cancer, but it does feed it and make the cancer cells grow. I was told that I had extremely high Testosterone numbers. One shot lasts for months and luckily I only had one hormone shot because it really messes with your body chemistry. I could not tolerate the heat, had concentration lapses, hot flashes, and slept very poorly.
At this point, no doctor at MD Anderson would take any action without making sure I didn’t have cancer somewhere else in my body. And fun fact, after you have had a prostate biopsy, you can’t get other tests such as MRI’s done because you won’t get an accurate reading because of the internal trauma caused by the biopsy. So I had to wait 2 months before getting an MRI and then a Bone Density Scan. I also had to have a colonoscopy, which I had never had before. Luckily all the test results came back with no issues.
At this point, I began to consider options other than radiation. At a friends recommendation, I made an appointment with an amazing oncologist at MD Anderson who changed my course of action and set me on a new path. Dr. Eleni Efstathiou told me that proton radiation and brachytherapy was not the best choice for me. Because of my age and my excellent health, she said the surgery (a prostatectomy) was the best choice for me.
But before I could schedule surgery, Dr. Efstathiou wanted to be 100% sure that my cancer had not spread. I took a special blood test that determines your genetic risk for hereditary cancer. No problems were found. She also ordered a PET scan with radioactive contrast, which is more detailed than an MRI and involves a radioactive injection. Unfortunately, the scan revealed a spot on my tailbone. They could not rule out bone cancer at this point, which was very stressful news. The only way to know for sure was to do a bone biopsy, which involved inserting a stout needle to the location and hammering some small pieces of bone for examination. Thankfully everything was fine. NOTE: I had bashed my tailbone in my shop on a steel pipe months earlier and had totally forgotten about it. I was told bone injuries and cancer look very similar on PET scans.
And finally, I scheduled my surgery with Dr. John W. Davis August 20th. He is the head of the genitourinary surgery department at MD Anderson. He came highly recommended and has removed approximately 3,000 prostates. He did the whole procedure using robotics. Everything went perfectly and I have had zero issues after surgery.
I had my 3 month follow up at MD Anderson in November and all the doctors were very impressed with my recovery. They also informed me that the lymph nodes samples they took were all benign and my PSA is now 0.0. So I’m officially cancer-free!
As I said before, I am feeling very grateful. I’m grateful to my wife Sue, my caregiver #1. And I’m thankful for my sweet little dog Papi who stayed very close to me after surgery, he was my caregiver #2. I am also grateful that I was able to receive my treatment at that world renown cancer center. MD Anderson Cancer Center has been ranked No. 1 hospital for cancer care in the nation 2018-2019, by U.S. News & World Reports “Best Hospitals” survey. The care, competence and compassion I experienced was awesome. I am working hard again, feeling like a bull, playing tennis for 2 hours at a time and doing a lot of power walking, and sleeping again.
Final thoughts, if you are a man, get a PSA test. I had no symptoms and it saved my life. And carpe some diems while you can. Life is short!
Here are some links to my doctors and some other resources:
MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas: https://www.mdanderson.org/
Dr. Steven J. Frank, Proton Therapy: https://faculty.mdanderson.org/profiles/steven_frank.html
Dr. Eleni Efstathio, Oncologist specializing in prostate cancer: https://faculty.mdanderson.org/profiles/eleni_efstathiou.html
Dr. John W Davis, Surgeon: https://faculty.mdanderson.org/profiles/john_davis.html
The Prostate Cancer Foundation: https://www.pcf.org/
Dr. Peter Scardino’s Prostate Book: https://www.amazon.com/
Color Genetic analysis for hereditary cancers and heart condition: https://www.color.com/