Within a couple of months of getting married to Katy in September 2017, Scott had his PSA checked for the very first time. Scott was 54 at the time. For many years it was common for PSA levels not to be checked because doctors were concerned that slightly elevated PSA's would lead to "low grade prostate cancers being over treated." Or so was the philosophy of the times. That philosophy has recently changed and it is becoming more common to test PSA. Testing PSA (prostate specific antigen) is as simple and inexpensive blood test. In this instance Scott was in for an unrelated check up and the doctor happened to order the test. The 13.4 PSA test result that came back was a surprise ( much higher than "acceptable"). Because many things unrelated to cancer can cause an increased PSA the doctor recommended consulting a urologist.
In January of 2018 Scott consulted the urologist his daughter Jenna, a nurse practitioner works for, Dr Feia. He recommended a biopsy. The results showed Scott had Prostate Cancer, Gleason 8, which is considered highly aggressive. At that time Scott obtained more than one opinions and all agreed with Dr Feia that surgery to remove the prostate made the best sense.
Scott had his prostate out by robotic surgery in the excellent hands of Dr Feia. The pathology confirmed Gleason 8, with a tertiary pattern 5. Translated the cancer was still considered highly aggressive. Scott recovered well and all surgical reports suggested the cancer had not escaped the prostate capsule. The hope was that Scott had been cured. However Scott's PSA did not go to "undetectable", as is the goal after surgery. ( In laymen's terms: The Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is mainly produced from the prostate. When the prostate is removed and the PSA does not drop to undetectable it means that some cancer cells escaped with prostate cells prior to removal of the prostate.)
Because the PSA "persisted" it meant that the cancer persisted. The key was to find where it was. Scott participated in a gallium PSMA pet scan clinical trial at UCLA in September 2018 . Prostate cancer is hard to see in pet scans when it is low volume and early on. Unfortunately by the time it is visible its so advanced it's hard to treat successfully. One of the areas that researchers keep working on is to develop better pet scans to find the prostate cancer that has escaped the prostate at earlier stages before it becomes so advanced that it is then visible in scans such as MRI, bone scan, etc. The PSMA scan showed that a lymph node in the Pelvis area had "lit up".
On Scott and Katy's first anniversary, they celebrated with Scott starting a short course of hormone therapy prior to starting radiation, under the care of Dr Stish at Mayo. Dr Stish is a radiation oncologist, and during the hormone therapy Scott had 8 weeks of daily radiation at Mayo in January, February 2019. Thankfully the treatment worked and pushed Scott's PSA to undetectable, the hope being that it would stay that way for a long long time. In the meantime Scott decided to go for his dream job, and became postmaster of Park Rapids! So in December we moved to Park Rapids MN!
For a time period radiation and hormone therapy worked and the cancer was held back.
Unfortunately in July 2020, the PSA started to climb rapidly, at one point doubling in 1.8 months. Scott was enrolled in a clinical trial on the choline pet scan vs the Psma pet scan occurring at Mayo. Both pet scans found multiple bone metastasis and further lymph node metastasis. Dr Stish referred Scott to Dr Kwon, who is well known advanced prostate cancer doctor and researcher at Mayo, Rochester MN.
Dr Kwon recommended chemotherapy, and more hormone therapy. Scott went through chemo from Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - March 2, 2021 with chemo every three weeks at Mn oncology ( Dr Hugec) in Maplewood and ongoing visits to Mayo with Dr Kwon. During this time he had numerous challenges, especially with his stomach, appetite, becoming immune compromised and low energy. Even so he continued to exercise 6 days a week! Dr Hugec stated that patients that exercise consistently have a 250 percent survival benefit! Scott took that statistic to heart and stuck to his plan all throughout to exercise.
It was tough to go through treatment with Katy waiting in the car, due to covid precautions, but Scott never complained. Since chemo Scott has reminded on quarterly hormone shots of lupron and quarterly check ups, blood tests and pet scans.
Scott's message: do not wait to get your PSA test done. It's a simple blood test. Men, get tested, even in your 50s or earlier if you have a family history of prostate cancer. Women, encourage your men to get tested. Prostate cancer is usually slow growing, and men die WITH it not OF it. But in the event that you happen to have the aggressive type, like Scott, you could get to the point of still "feeling well" with no symptoms and yet have cancer metastasized throughout your body... at which point it becomes much more challenging to treat.
Scott is grateful for great medical care, from Dr Feia HCMC, Dr Stish, and now Dr Kwon of Mayo. He also is very thankful to his family and friends who are a great support to him in this journey. The verse Katy and Scott both repeat, regularly, is that " I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me."
Scott is now getting ready to retire and pursue his next challenge, to cycle around all the exterior states as a fundraiser for prostate cancer and to raise awareness. He also wants to show by example that you can live a full life with stage four cancer. He anticipates starting the trip summer 2023 and is actively training for it now.