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Patients speak about prostate cancer and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy

Willard Holsted, El Reno, Oklahoma

Willard's story is told by Carla, his wife

Imagine a pharmacist from Oklahoma lounging by a hotel pool in Miami . Imagine him chatting with a gentle Mennonite from the Canadian Rockies, an African-American from Anchorage, and a urology chief from Athens, Greece . How did the paths of these four men cross? How did my husband, the pharmacist, wind up in this delightful, oddball scenario the day after his prostate cancer surgery?

In November we found out that Willard had prostate cancer. After getting over the shock, we began to look for general background information and discovered that prostate cancer treatment options include many forms.

Willard's brother, Carroll, is a physician. He suggested having prostate removal. He said he would not recommend radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or prostate brachytherapy radiation implants. He felt like the cancer needed to be taken out. At the end of November, we met with an urologist in Oklahoma City . He discussed all of our prostate cancer treatment options. We asked about prostate cancer surgery and that is what he recommended. He told of the possible blood loss, possible transfusions, and told us that Willard would probably want to donate his own blood in case of a transfusion.

We own a pharmacy in El Reno , Oklahoma and one of our employees had seen an article in the Daily Oklahoman about a man who had had Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy (LRP). It turned out later that that man was Bob Patten, who broke a world record three months after prostate removal [the article is posted in the In the News section]. We showed the article to the urologist and he said he did not know anything about LRP and did not know of anyone in Oklahoma who did it. After leaving the doctor's office neither of us really liked the treatment options. We felt we needed to get the cancer out, but the blood loss, impotence, incontinence and all the time off from work after the surgery were all a little too much to think about at that time.

The next day, Willard called Arnon Krongrad, MD, the surgeon who had done the LRP, and talked with a woman named Hope. She was very helpful and sent us some information Willard would need to send to them if he wanted the operation. Willard and I both had been praying for some answers and a feeling of comfort that we were making the right decision.

When I got home that afternoon I got on the computer and typed in prostate cancer and the first thing that came up was Dr. Krongrad's web site. There was a picture of him and Pat Robertson of the 700 Club. Pat Robertson had this operation and he had Dr. Krongrad on his show and Pat asked Dr. Krongrad all of the questions that any family would want to know about this operation. One of the key things that Dr. Krongrad said was he had been looking for years for a way to do this surgery without it being so invasive. He talked about how LRP was done, how they removed the prostate in a bag, and that you were usually released from the hospital the next day. He mentioned that he called Pat's hotel room to check on him after his surgery and Pat was down by the pool. There was a lot of information in that clip. After hearing it I could not wait for Willard to get home from work to listen to it also. After seeing Dr. Krongrad and hearing what he had to say Willard was excited and we knew this was the answer we had been looking for.

The next day we filled out all the information that Hope had faxed to us and faxed it back. Saturday Willard went to work and lo and behold the phone rang and it was Dr. Krongrad and yes I said Saturday, and he asked Willard if he had any questions. Willard asked him a few things that were on his mind regarding impotence, incontinence, time off from work and said he was planning on calling Hope on Tuesday the next week to set everything up and Dr. Krongrad said well, she is here would you like to talk with her now? Willard said yes and set the surgery up for Jan 25th.

We flew to Miami on January 23. Monday the 24th we pre-registerd at the hospital and 8:00a.m. At 9:00a.m. we went back to the hotel and started the bowel prep. We met with Dr. Krongrad at 2:00p.m. It was so nice to finally meet the people that we had been speaking with on the phone. Dr. Krongrad examined Willard and then took us into his office and spoke with us for 30 or 45 min. telling us all about the surgery, risks and what to expect and asked us if we had any questions.

We left and went back to the hotel and talked about how warm Dr. Krongrad was and how we both felt at ease and were happy with our decision. The next morning, the 25 th , we were at the hospital at 6:00a.m. and they began to prep Willard. Dr. Krongrad walked in and introduced us to Dr. Emmanuel Panagiotou, chief of urology at a private hospital in Athens , Greece ; Dr. Panagiotou had come to visit and learn from Dr. Krongrad and would observe Willard's operation. Dr. Krongrad spoke with us for a minute and assured me he would find me after the operation and let me know how Willard was doing.

About 11:00a.m. Dr. Krongrad, with Dr. Panagiotou trailing not far behind, found me and told me the LRP was over, it went very well. Dr. Krongrad said he felt like he got all of the cancer and he was able to save both of the nerves. He told me Willard would be in recovery for about 2 hours and then would be taken to a room and that he would check in on us that afternoon. He did come in about 5:00 that afternoon. He told us that he would have Willard's IV taken out about 9:00p.m. and that about 10:00 Willard should try to get up and walk a little bit. He said he would see us about 11:00a.m. the next morning for discharge.

A few hours after discharge, we decided to take a walk around the hotel and go down by the pool. When we got on the elevator we met a man that asked Willard if he had had surgery. Willard said yes, and the gentleman said, Dr. Krongrad? We said yes. He said his brother was downstairs and he would like us to meet him, his name was Rueben and he was from British Columbia . Willard and Rueben began to chat and compare stories. Rueben's LRP was done the day before. This gave Willard a little comfort to know that everything seemed to be going fine.

As we walked around to the pool area, we met another man named Charles, from Alaska . Willard and he began to chat and discuss their stories. There was such a warm feeling and they had something in common with each other and were able to ask each other questions that they may be having with their progress. We all wondered how each had come to know about Dr. Krongrad. It seemed prayer had been involved in every answer.

On Friday morning, Willard and I went down for breakfast and we ran into Dr. Panagiotou, from Athens . He asked Willard how he was doing and told Willard that Dr. Krongrad had done a wonderful job on him. He wished us well and said he was leaving that afternoon. We had an appointment with Dr. Krongrad at 9:30a.m. Everything was doing well and he said he did not see any reason why we could not leave the next day as we had planned. We left Florida the next day and arrived in Oklahoma late that evening.

When we returned home I wrote Pat Robertson and thanked him for having Dr. Krongrad on his show. That was one of the main reasons for us choosing to go to Florida , being able to see Dr. Krongrad, and listen to him tell all about the surgery. I received a real nice email back from Pat Robertson. It's amazing how connected we can all feel from this experience.

An Oklahoma pharmacist collects background information and learns that prostate cancer treatment options include many forms.