“The knee bone’s connected to the … Prostate”
No. I don’t remember that version of the kids’ song either, but in my case it’s true!
Laying on an exam table with an orthopedist driving a needle in and out of your knee, trying to extract non-existent fluid, is no fun. Yet, that was my first visit with any sort of doctor in about 15 years. Two weeks earlier, I awoke with agonizing pain in my left knee. Thinking I must have slept in an awkward position, I stood and it buckled a little. “It’ll work itself out,” I said to myself. But, over the next few days, it got progressively worse to the point that I had to buy a cane. Long story short, I was diagnosed with advanced arthritis. The only treatment was a series of injections that, as of that year, were no longer covered by my insurance and cost more than I wanted to pay. So, I called my boss and told her I needed to take a week off. I laid on the couch eating anti-inflammatories with an ice pack on my barking knee.
Why hadn’t I seen a doctor in 15 years? Because, I’m never sick. Fifteen years earlier, I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. Other than that, no one in my family could tell you the last time I had the flu or even a cold; but there I lay with an arthritic knee. At 6’ 1” I was overweight, hovering around 285 for 20 something years. Maybe if I lost weight, I might find some relief. I watched some documentaries on health and nutrition and determined to make significant lifestyle changes. I lost 10 pounds a month over the next seven months. The pain left and I joined a gym.
In fact, I made so many changes and was feeling so good that, just after Christmas of 2018, I decided to find a doctor and have a full physical. Surely, it would be a good idea to verify that all I was doing was having positive health effects. Turns out, my blood pressure was a little high but every other test came back as perfect. That is, all except one. My PSA was 8.5. At 59, I was urged to see a urologist.
Like most men, I had heard of prostate cancer but was surprised to read how often it strikes, that there are no symptoms early on, and how many men it kills.
Waiting for the appointment, I started doing my research. My second PSA reading was a 7 and we scheduled a biopsy.
On January 30, 2019, I got “the call.” My Gleason score was 6. I had prostate cancer. That was a surreal moment. I had been living bulletproof for years! Our eldest daughter was getting married in two weeks! Now, this? Seriously?!!
I “gave her away” to one of the finest men I’ve ever known and danced like I never had before. It would be another six weeks until my radical robotic prostatectomy.
The surgery went well and the pathology report indicated that only 10% of my prostate was cancerous. Subsequent blood tests show no detectable PSA. So far so good and I thank God my prostate cancer was caught early. So, you see, if it weren’t for my knee, I probably wouldn’t have been checked until after metastasis and symptoms. Now, I speak out and often. I urge men to get checked. The blue ribbon is tattooed on my right hand because I want every handshake to be an opportunity.
Follow Mike on Instagram and Twitter @cancerwarriormike