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My experience as a cancer patient in the United States

Discussion in 'JF Doctor' started by ByaseL, Jul 8, 2011.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jul 8, 2011
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    By Jerry Okungu

    I left Nairobi three weeks ago to seek further treatment for my prostate cancer in America’s advanced cancer institutions.

    On arriving in Atlanta on June 20, I spent the first week booking appointments with Emory University Hospital Cancer Center, the Georgia Cancer Center and Radiotherapy Centers of the United States of America. Although the three are different and independent institutions, their ownership is jointly shared making specialists easily share information regarding the latest research findings and unique cases they come across.

    The first thing you discover is that doctors do not work alone on a patient. They find it easy to pick a phone and call another doctor if they find your case unique or unusual.

    My first port of call was at Dr. Frederick J. Schnell’s office, the Medical Director of the Newton Country Radiation Therapy Center. After going through my profile from Dr. Maurice Wambani in Nairobi, he chose to have a one-hour one-on-one discussion with me. I had to tell my story from my own perspective.

    His aim was to establish if I had been in honest discussions with my doctor in Nairobi because as he later informed me; treatment of cancer depends very much on the patient as much as on the doctor in charge. At the time of meeting Dr. Schnell, I still had the catheter and tubes for dialysis on my chest. These were the gadgets that had been planted on my body in mid-May at MP Shah Hospital when I needed to ease pressure on my kidneys and detoxify my circulation system.

    Although under normal circumstances the catheter should have been changed daily based on the USA standards, mine had been with me for close to six weeks. He, therefore, chose to remove it and asked me to observe for at least 48 hours if I could do without it.

    To confirm that I was fine without one, he gave me a lot of liquid to drink and remained in the clinic for at least one hour to see if I could pass urine without the assistance of the catheter. When I finally did that, he released me to go home but instructed his nurse to give me two new catheters to take with me in case I needed them. My wife was instructed on how to insert them.

    On reading my test reports in Nairobi and seeing that at the start of my treatment I had a PSA level of 817 and a Gleason scale of 7, he quickly referred me to an oncologist at Emory University Hospital the same afternoon who examined me then referred me to Dr. Kevin Peacock, a specialist in Oncology and Haematology in Conyers, Georgia

    Before Dr. Peacock saw me, I had to fill a 16-page questionnaire detailing my family history, drug allergies and the drugs I had been taking since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In this category, I had to include any drug unauthorised by the Federal Drug Authority of the United States. They would include any African, Chinese or Indian herbal medicines. Once he was satisfied, he took my blood samples to confirm my PSA and Gleason levels.

    On realising that my PSA had been declining, he chose to continue with the same treatment but added more oral drugs to fortify the hormonal injection I had received in Nairobi the week I left. Before I left his clinic, he referred me to a conference for cancer patients organised by the RC Cancer Centers of the United States of America in Conyers.

    Founded over 30 years ago, the centre specialises in prostate cancer research but also conducts weekly talks to cancer patients so that they can be better informed of new methods of managing the disease. What I discovered in my first meeting was that I was the only person whose PSA was 817 at the time of diagnosis.

    Because most Americans go for routine PSA checks, theirs are discovered before reaching level four PSA count. On telling my story, Dr. Brendon immediately advised that chemotherapy and radiotherapy were not the way to go in my case. Like Dr. Peacock, he advised that I continue with hormonal therapy.

    In the last 30 years, doctors at the RC cancer centres have treated more than 12,500 men for prostate cancer with a procedure called ProstRcision. From their research, over 80 research papers have been published and peer-reviewed in medical journals or presented at medical conferences.

    In a nutshell, the centres strive to provide a decision-making process to enable the patient select the best treatment method for curing prostate cancer.