Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy
Verle Woods, Darrouzett, Texas
Cutting through the chase in modern American medicine isn't easy. It requires drive and determination...and on the other end a team that is dedicated to patient care in both the medical and the relational realm. Personally speaking with a doctor and by email with the click of a mouse just isn't an every day occurrence. Dr. Krongrad and his staff understand and they were personally there for my wife and me during an incredibly scary and complicated time. They were there in a way that we'd never experienced before.
We were eight weeks into dealing with the bombshell diagnosis of a Gleason 9, T2-3 prostate cancer. I was dealing with a second opinion, a wait on Lupron hormone treatment to do its job so eight weeks of radiation could begin 250 miles away, and a farm and ranch business. My wife was struggling with planning to cope in my long-term absence and managing a full-time teaching job, our farming business, and helping our son raise four young children alone. I was struggling, and we both were trying to cope with what seemed like a death sentence.
Surgery was advised to be a non-option, and we were hoping at best radiation would control the Gleason 9 villain. My wife, a school technology coordinator and teacher, began to systematically research options. A chance phone encounter with the school's insurance representative put the name of Dr. Krongrad before us. His neighbor had been Dr. Krongrad's 25th LRP back in 2000 and he was from West Texas, too. We spoke to the neighbor from Amarillo, too.
We began the process of finding out if I was a candidate for laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Within 48 hours of first hearing Dr. Krongrad's name, he had called us and posed probing questions about the radiology interpretations we were given just weeks before. I had heard quite well the hushed words of a second-opinion urologist as he explained his interpretation of the CT scans to my wife thinking I was out of hearing range: "inoperable ... prostate cancer spread to lymph nodes and seminal vesicles ... 3-5 year survival, at best... IF the radiation was to be successful." I was pleased to have another doctor consider my situation.
The hope that was generated when Dr. Krongrad called and expressed his intrigue after reading my radiology and biopsy narratives regarding the "lymph node spread" was welcome. As soon as that phone call ended, we put into motion the logistics of getting DRE notes and phone conversations set between Dr. Krongrad and the urologists and radiologist that had made the original diagnosis. Later that evening Dr. Krongrad called me at my home, and immediately we realized were we dealing with a medical team that offered personal and compassionate care, paralleled by state-of the art medicine, a pioneering spirit, and uncompromised expertise. We knew we were talking to one of the best prostate cancer treatment centers in America USA.
Being from the small West Texas farming and ranching community (population 393), friends across the community reminded me many times each day that prayers were being lifted for healing from the cancer prognosis I had been given. As our relationship with Krongrad Urology developed over the days ahead, it was clear those prayers were being answered.
Two weeks after Dr. Krongrad began asking questions, we were on a jet to South Florida for my prostate cancer surgery. Those weeks were not without complications that ranged from never being able to find out how to contact the radiologist who had read the CT scans to the scans being lost. Persistence and email solved those problems, and we were elated six days after Dr. Krongrad first called to receive his email saying that he had spoken with the radiologist. Their joint conclusion: no findings that the cancer had spread to the pelvic lymph nodes and seminal vesicles.
The day before surgery also was not without its complications. Call it confusion, stress, or just plain old age. I had forgotten to stop taking aspirin as ordered one week before the surgery. End result, the evening before and AFTER the standard pre-op preparation, blood tests ordered by Dr. Krongrad showed irregularities in clotting ability. The surgery had to be postponed until the aspirin cleared out of my system.
I had the surgery at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center on the following Monday. The care was great and everyone was nice to me. I was up and walking seven hours later and left the hospital the next morning. The only pain medication I had following surgery was two Tylenols. My appetite and digestive system got back on track the second day after prostate surgery.
After resting the remainder of the day and the next morning in our hotel, we met Dr. Krongrad for our follow up visit, checked out of our hotel, and flew to Amarillo. Even after arriving at 11 PM, I felt well enough to do the 150-mile drive home. I was home in my own bed 1,600 miles from Aventura just 62 hours after surgery. I went to breakfast with my buddies the next morning, and then went to check on some cattle.
The pathology reports came back negative on my lymph nodes and seminal vesicles. Dr. Krongrad explained at the conclusion of surgery that he had taken out a lot of fat on the right side to be on the safe side, taking out the whole bucket, as he explained in my follow-up visit. Now, two months after surgery, I got the great news that my PSA is 0.01 ng/ml, as low as I could hope for.
We opted for health above all because what we value most are relationships with those that we love. And relationships, physician to patient from start to finish, are Dr. Krongrad's first specialty.
As my recovery progressed, Dr. Krongrad was available for questions, even on New Year's Eve! We greatly respect Dr. Krongrad's pioneering spirit, commitment to excellence, and devotion to his patients.