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Prostate Cancer: A Survivor's Story

Updated on November 30, 2016
Akwasi Maru profile image

Akwasi Maru has been a firefighter for fifteen years. He currently holds the rank of Fire Captain.

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My Story

My name is Akwasi Maru, and I am 40 years old. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 38, which is a very young age for that type of cancer. To say that I was surprised when I received my diagnosis is an understatement. I have a story to tell all men across this country, young and old.

I am a full-time firefighter and have been in the fire service since 2001. With that said, research is now in progress about whether firefighters have an increased chance of getting cancer due to constant exposure to cancer-causing agents in house fires. Did my disease come from several years of exposure to these carcinogens? I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it, either. Although prostate cancer one of the most curable cancers in the world, it can be deadly. I have known people who have died from it.

I want to share my personal experiences with prostate cancer to the world. Maybe doctors will change the screening age for this type of cancer, especially for firefighters. As a young man with a wife and kids, I can't begin to explain all of the psychological pain we've endured in the last two years.

The prostate gland
The prostate gland | Source

The Symptoms

Many people ask me what were your symptoms, what made you get tested, or how did you find out? My symptoms were:

  • Lower back pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Weakness

I had wanted to get tested just to be safe, but none of my doctors would do it because of how young I was. The doctors would always say, "we usually don't do those types of test until the age of 40." I was about 35 years old at the time I was asking. After several years of not getting the answers I deserved, I changed doctors. On my first visit to my new doctor, she ordered a full physical, including all blood work. A few days later my blood work returned and my Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level was 4.3. According to the National Cancer Institute, the normal PSA level is 4.0.

She then referred me to a urologist, and that is when all of the psychological pain started. It began with the finger in the rectum to test the size of the prostate gland itself. After issues with my insurance company I had to change urologists, and get the same test done again. Tell me about it! However, this wasn't the last time either. After a series of those tests from different doctors, as well as a biopsy, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The saddest day of my life!

Do you know anyone who have experienced Prostate Cancer?

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Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Image of Prostate Cancer
Image of Prostate Cancer | Source

Living With Cancer

The first thought that came to my mind after the initial diagnosis was that I was going to die. I couldn't help but think about my children—and leaving them here alone. My wife said it was many days that I yelled at them for no reason. I quickly realized that I was taking my stress out on my family, and I did not want to continue to do that.

Later, I discussed my options with my doctor. He automatically suggested that I have my prostate removed. I said hold up, wait a minute! Aren't there other options? His response was yes, we actually had three options: watch and wait, radiation seeds, or surgery.

Some complications of the surgery are:

  • Will not be able to have kids due to the removal of the prostate
  • Will no longer be able to ejaculate sperm
  • No erection for 6-18 months
  • Unable to control urine flow

Hearing about these three options was a straight-up nightmare for me. I decided to watch and wait. I am way to young and sexually active to go 6-18 months without sex. While watching and waiting, I changed my lifestyle by eating more vegetables, fruits, and exercising. I've heard stories that cancer can't survive in a highly alkaline body, so I decided to try that, as well.

Some alkaline foods:

  • limes
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • green beans
  • cucumbers
  • bell peppers

pH Chart
pH Chart | Source

Question?

What option did you take if you were diagnosed?

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The Pain

After several doctor visits, MRIs, X-rays, stressful dieting, and psychological pain, I decided to have the surgery to have my prostate removed. I didn't want to take a chance of it spreading throughout my body. I prayed, and God told me to have the surgery. However, I was not prepared for the pain and stress that came along with it.

On May 3, 2016, I had the surgery. The recovery period immediately after the surgery was very difficult and painful. I had a catheter in my penis, and it was extremely painful to urinate. I couldn't move my bowels. I had to sleep in awkward positions. Once the catheter was removed, it eased some discomfort, but I still couldn't control my urine flow. I had to wear diapers(Depends) due to the constant leakage from my penis. And until this day I still wear them.

I went several months without sex, and during that time I thought my wife was going to have an affair. I almost became an alcoholic because of the stress and mental pain. But my wife stood by my side throughout the whole experience. I wouldn't trade her for anyone else. Through all of this pain, it felt good to hear that my last PSA results were undetectable. I'm cancer-free!

In Summary

  • Get tested early, especially if your father or other family members have had prostate cancer
  • Change eating habits
  • Listen to your doctor
  • A strong family support system is helpful
  • Limit fried foods, processed foods, alcohol, smoking, and stressful conditions
  • Take any cancer-screening test available. Don't wait until it's too late.

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    • profile image

      Jim 3 months ago

      Sometimes you can get rid of prostate problems with bee pollen.

    • Akwasi Maru profile image
      Author

      Akwasi Maru 4 months ago from Macon, Georgia

      That is a great deal of information. I often wondered did I ever have the disease myself. However, it is over for me because I've already had the surgery, but I can use this information to warn and educate others in the future.

    • profile image

      Jim 4 months ago

      Men beware!

      Created January 5, 2016. Revised July 16, 2017

      Read the sad truth about prostate cancer testing and treatment, exploitation and dangers.

      Your life or your quality of life may depend on reading this document.

      Prostate cancer lies, exaggerations, deceptions, elder abuse and dirty secrets.

      A prostate cancer survival guide by a patient and victim.

      Men, avoid the over diagnosis and unnecessary treatment of prostate cancer.

      The man who invented the PSA test, Dr. Richard Ablin now calls it: "the Great Prostate Mistake, Hoax and a Profit-Driven Public Health Disaster”.

      In my opinion:

      Read the hard facts about prostate cancer testing and treatment that no one will tell you about, even after it’s too late. This is information all men over 50 should have. Also, anyone concerned about cancer in general, dangers from clinical trials, injuries and deaths from medical mistakes, exploitation, elder abuse, HIPAA laws and privacy issues should read this document. Prostate cancer patients are often elderly, over treated, misinformed and exploited for huge profits by predatory doctors. The testing, treatment and well documented excessive over treatment for profit of prostate cancer often results in devastating and unnecessary side effects and sometimes death. At times profit vs. QOL (quality of life).

      Facts per some studies:

      1. Multiple studies have verified more harm and deaths caused from prostate cancer testing and treatment then from prostate cancer itself.

      2. Extensively documented unnecessary testing and treatment of prostate cancer for profit or poor judgment by some doctors in the USA.

      3. Medical mistakes are the third cause of deaths in the USA (over 251,000 deaths a year, over one million deaths in 4 years) more then suicide, firearms and motor vehicle accidents combined.

      4. About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his life.

      5. About 233,000 new cases per year of prostate cancer.

      6. 1 million dangers prostate blind biopsies are performed per year in the USA.

      7. 6.9% hospitalization within 30 days from a prostate biopsy complication.

      8. About 1.3 to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 from prostate blind biopsies.

      9. .2% to 1.2% deaths as a result of prostate cancer surgery.

      10. A study of early-stage prostate cancer found no difference in surviving at 10 years whether men had surgery, radiation or monitoring.

      11. Black men are at an increased risk of prostate cancer.

      12. Prostate cancer patients are at an increased risk for chronic fatigue, depression, suicide and heart attacks.

      13. Depression in prostate cancer patients is about 27% and 22% at 5 years, for advanced prostate cancer patient’s depression is even higher.

      14. 75% to 90% of oncologists would refuse chemotherapy if they had cancer.

      15. The National Cancer Institute says approximately 40 to 50% of men with low to moderate grade Prostate cancer will have a recurrence after treatment.

      16. 62% to 75% of bankruptcies in America are because of medical bills.

      Excuse the generally accurate humor and sarcasm. Its intent is to entertain and educate while reading this possibly laborious text.

      Prostate cancer patients are often elderly and exploited for profit, the treatments offered has horrible side effects, and newer treatment options are either unavailable or not offered to patients or available outside the USA. Prostate cancer is often slow growing and of low risk and can just be monitored. Often no treatment is the best treatment. Over testing and treatment has been verified by numerous experts, studies and investigations, documentation, etc.

      Follow the money: If a surgeon is financially responsible for a building lease, a large staff or an oncologist is also responsible for a lease on multimillions of dollars in radiation treatment equipment, do you think they would be more or less honest about the benefits and hazards of treatment? Do you think the profit margin would compromise some doctor’s ethics? Typically, what is the purpose in over testing and treating a cancer that often will not spread and the testing and treatment frequently causes lower QOL (quality of life), ED, incontinence, depression, fatigue, suicide, etc if it was not extremely profitable. The medical field is alluding to the fact that prostate cancer testing and treatment may do more harm then good. The U.S. Advisory Panel is now recommending for prostate cancer PSA testing and screening: for men 55 to 69 “letting men decide for themselves after talking with their doctors”. For men over 70, no testing at all is recommended. However this may not protect men from predatory doctors exploiting them. Patients usually follow a doctor’s recommendation. Do you think any regulatory agency will stop the exploitation of elderly men with a high PSA or prostate cancer or approve new treatments at the risk of financially bankrupting thousands of treatment facilities and jeopardizing thousands more jobs? Do you think any regulatory agency will set guidelines for testing and treatment at the risk of upsetting the doctors who are profiting from over treating? Older drugs and treatments for prostate cancer and ED are kept very expensive and newer or less expensive and effective drugs and treatments are seldom approved, for maximum profit. Prostate cancer patients are often elderly and exploited for profit, the treatments offered has horrible side effects, and newer treatment options are either unavailable or not offered to patients or available outside the USA. Prostate cancer is often slow growing and of low risk and can just be monitored. Often no treatment is the best treatment. Over testing and treatment has been verified by numerous experts, studies and investigations, documentation, etc.

      A 12, 18 or 24 core blind biopsy, holey prostate! Prostate blind biopsies are dangerous. Men with a high PSA tests result are often sent to an urologist for a blind biopsy. Men should be told about other options: Percent free PSA test, 4Kscore test, PCA3 urine test or a MRI, 3D color-Doppler test before receiving a blind biopsy. These tests can often or always eliminate the need for a more risky and invasive blind biopsy. Insertion of 12, 18 or 24 large holes through the rectum into a gland the size of a walnut, a blind Biopsy can result in (per studies) pain, prostate infections, a risk of permanent or temporary erectile dysfunction at about 24% (about 240,000 cases of ED a year), urinary problems, hospitalization from infections and sometimes even death from sepsis (About 1.3 to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 from blind biopsies). There is also debate that a biopsy may spread cancer because of needle tracking. A blind biopsy can also increase PSA reading for several weeks or months, further frightening men into an unnecessary treatment. Blind biopsies are almost never performed on other organs. One very prestigious hospital biopsy information states “Notice that your semen has a red or rust-colored tint caused by a small amount of blood in your semen”. Another large prestigious hospital states “Blood, either red or reddish brown, may also be in your ejaculate.” These statements are often an extreme exaggeration (mostly lies). Very often after a biopsy a man’s semen will turn into a jet black goo. This could be an unpleasant surprise for a man and especially for his unsuspecting partner. However if a biopsy is performed before Halloween or April Fools’ day this may be of some benefit to a few patients. If some very prestigious hospitals are not factual about the color of semen, what other facts is not being disclosed or misrepresented?

      Bone scan scam: Prostate cancer patients are often sent for a bone scan. A bone scan has about a 13% chance of having a false positive and only 3 men in 1,000 have bone cancer who have a bone scan. Bone scans may often be unnecessary in lower risk prostate cancer patients.

      Low risk cancer patients or patients with advanced age are often sent for aggressive treatment by some doctors when monitoring is usually a better option. An extreme example of overtreatment is one SBRT radiation clinical trial. Prostate cancer patients (victims) where intentionally treaded (fried

    • profile image

      timbo868 12 months ago

      A down to earth, and honesty story about facing The Big C. Timbo868