Our Stories - Richard Satterwhite

As clichéd as it may sound, if September 6, 2007 was the, “day my life changed forever”, then October 24, 2007 was the, “first day of the rest of my life”. You see, October 24, 2007 was the day I had a radical prostatectomy, removal of my cancerous prostate and was subsequently told on December 14, 2007 that I was cancer-free. A little back-story: I had been having difficulty urinating for a few weeks. I was at home one night watching a T.V. commercial for BPH, also known as ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’. As they ran down the symptoms of what could be an enlarged prostate, typically associated with age, I was 44 at the time. Not really old is it? Anyway, a light went off in my head, “maybe this is what my problem is; I’ll see my doctor, get a pill and I’ll be ok”.

On September 6, 2007, during a routine follow-up visit to my doctor to get test results, I was told I had a PSA level of 11 and that there could be a number of reasons why it was this elevated. I became obsessed with getting the facts about PSA and what it could all mean. I was given a referral to see an urologist. There, I had another blood test that confirmed the elevated numbers that I received on the last test I had. A biopsy was ordered and the results indicated I had cancer. There’s an expression, ‘having the wind sucked out of your sails’, which was exactly how I felt upon receiving the news that cancer had been found in my body.

I still remember walking out of the doctor’s office to tell my wife the news and seeing the look of helplessness that flashed across her face. I thought about talking to our kids and my mother. My father passed away some 15 years before from ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I thought about how my life changed in an instant. You know, I think I experienced every emotion my body could muster that day and I kept most of them to myself, in an attempt to be strong for my family.

Armed with the fact that I’d just been diagnosed with cancer, I became angry and determined not to let this, ‘thing’ beat me. After speaking with my doctor and other experts, it was suggested that because of my age, removal would be the best option and because of my age, I would recover faster and have a better chance of getting back to normal life afterward. On my last consultation, I met with a Dr. Khurshid Guru, Director of Robotics for Roswell Park. Not to sound like a commercial, he talked to me specifically about treatment and after-surgery quality of life issues. Through my research, I also learned that Roswell Park invented the PSA and that they have a national and international reputation for cancer treatment and research. I was immediately taken by how I was treated with respect and dignity at Roswell Park. Dr. Guru, his staff and every other employee along the way were absolutely awesome!

Well here it is, almost three years later and I’m still cancer-free. In my opinion, I made the right decision for my cancer treatment based on all the information provided to me. Because it is short, take control of your life, learn the facts, talk to your doctor, and don’t give up. Now I know…and now YOU know too!

For more information about the Roswell Park High Risk/Early Detection Prostate Cancer Clinic, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) and speak to a referral representative.