Ethan's Portal

A few words about my journey... I'm a 68-year old Caucasian, mechanical engineer, Cincinnati resident for the past 26 years. With one notable exception, my health had always been fine, something I had attributed to a lifestyle based on fitness and diet, including many years of yoga and a modified macrobiotic diet. However, about ten years ago my PSA started rising, reaching the 4.0 danger zone in 2014. An MRI in 2015 followed by biopsy confirmed a Gleason 8 tumor in the left peripheral zone. The advice of the medical community both here and at the NIH was to treat, either by surgery or radiation. This is standard of care. However, no doctor could explain to me why Gleason 8 tumors recur in about 30% of men so treated within 5 years. Before being subjected to the immediate side effects of prostatectomy or the long-term side effects of radiation and hormone deprivation, I wanted to find some answers to this question, namely, whether the chance of recurrence was statistically random or whether there might be metabolic and/or genetic reasons why 70% of men fare well and 30% do not. Unfortunately, finding a doctor in Cincinnati who was willing to work with me to find the answer - what some call personalized medicine or precision medicine - was not easy. Neither my GP or my uro or my onc was willing to help. To them I was a statistic. Feeling like I was running out of time, yet unwilling to go the traditional surgery/radiation routes, I elected a third way - localized treatment, as a path forward that would at least buy me the time to further explore the basis of my disease. For this I flew to Galveston, Texas, to the clinic of Dr. Eric Walser, for focal laser ablation (FLA). A fiber optic needle is guided to the tumor using real time MRI and a blue laser light is used to heat up and denature the tumor cells, without affecting either urinary or sexual functions. A few hours after arriving i was back in my hotel room, with hardly any discomfort. Four months later I feel great and am fully functional in both departments, but about $20K poorer - Medicare does not cover this procedure because it does not have a 10-year track record. Only time will tell if my tumor will come back. However, the purpose of the FLA, as stated, was not to cure, but to buy me time to more fully research my disease. Fortunately, since returning to Cincinnati I was able to find two resources who are willing to work with me: Dr. Manish Bhandari, a oncologist at Christ Hospital and Dr. John Sacco, a radiation oncologist at OHC. Both of these guys have shown a willingness to explore the genetic makeup of my tumor and my underlying genetic profile. They have prescribed the testing I asked for. Now we are waiting for the results. I will share these results on this website in future. In the meantime I have implemented some of the advice to be found elsewhere on this site, such as regular vigorous exercise, dietary changes, aspirin and stress reduction, in order to slow disease progression.

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