THE FIGHT OF A MAN’S LIFE
In honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, one patient shares his story of battling the disease
(September 16, 2011) Bay Area, Calif. — What started as a routine physical led to a much more serious diagnosis for Sherman Potter. When the 54-year-old Etna, California resident went in for his exam, a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test wasn’t originally on his agenda. But because his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 54, Potter’s wife, Kristi, urged him to include the test in his physical. He agreed - and it was a decision that saved his life.
When the results came back, Potter immediately knew it may not be good news. “My PSA level was at 10.1,” he says. “And you know what that means.” Potter’s PSA level being well above the normal level of four indicated that he may have prostate cancer. Further tests proved his fear to be true.
“The results were certainly scary for both myself and my wife. We just had a couple of new grandkids that we looked forward to spending time with. And at my age, I wanted to continue working and be able to retire,” says Potter, a boilermaker who, at the time of diagnosis, was looking for work in the Bay Area. “I had a lot to live for.”
After receiving the results, Potter and his wife immediately started searching for an oncologist. It was by chance that Kristi found the doctors at Epic Care, but it was, in Potter’s eyes, a perfect match. “It was truly a blessing that we were in the Bay Area at the time of my diagnosis. When we went in to speak with the doctors, they gave me my options quickly. And each time we visited the center and discussed my treatment, everything seemed a little better; a little more comfortable.”
“In order to combat his prostate cancer, we discussed several options with Mr. Potter,” says Kenneth Chao, M.D., radiation oncologist at Epic Care. “In the end, Mr. Potter opted for prostate seed brachytherapy. The treatment involves placing radioactive seeds directly into the prostate. These seeds then emit a high dose of radiation to the cancerous area while reducing the amount of damage to the surrounding healthy tissue,” Chao explains. It was a procedure with which Potter was somewhat familiar, as his father had undergone the treatment 25 years before.
“I didn’t want to undergo traditional external-beam radiation therapy,” Potter says, “and once I discussed brachytherapy with my doctors at Epic Care, it seemed like the right treatment for me. It was quite a procedure, but I was confident in my doctors. They were always very professional and made me very comfortable.”
“The first few months after the procedure, I thought, ‘Gosh, I hope this works,’” Potter continues. “It definitely made me appreciate what my dad experienced when he went through diagnosis and treatment.” And just a few months later, Potter received some great news from his doctors: his PSA level had dropped from 10.1 to 1.2 within just a few months. Now with another test coming up in October, Potter feels confident that he’ll once again hear great news.
“I was very fortunate that my wife pushed me to be tested and that everything was found in time to pursue my treatment,” says Potter. “I now have a great feeling about my prognosis. Looking back now, it’s like it was all a bad dream that just went away.”