Prostate Cancer Survivor
My name is Ron. I'm 68, a retired Washington State Patrolman and I own a driving school with my wife, Linda, our son and daughter-in-law. I've always been someone who is cautious about my health and that's why it was a shock to learn I had prostate cancer. Except for high blood pressure I've been pretty healthy all my life.
My first urologist dealing with the prostate cancer diagnosis was not at Virginia Mason. I'm sure he was a fine doctor, but he wasn't the one for me. A friend who had been treated at Virginia Mason said he was impressed with his doctor there, so my wife made an appointment for me.
From the minute I met the Virginia Mason urologist, I liked and trusted him. He was very honest about what prostate cancer means and about the different kinds of treatments available. The other thing I liked about that appointment was that we didn't feel rushed. The doctor answered every question we had. This was on a Thursday and he scheduled a CT scan for the following Monday.
“From the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave, you feel like the focus is on you. When you're dealing with a serious medical issue like cancer, it can't get much better than that.”
It saved my life because while it was supposed to be a routine look at the cancer, the CT scan revealed I had an aortic abdominal aneurysm. This is an enlarged area in the main vessel that supplies blood to the body from the heart. If this aneurysm had ruptured, it could have killed me in minutes. Often, as was the case with me, there are no symptoms.
My urologist and his team quickly scheduled me for a consult with a Virginia Mason vascular surgeon who set surgery for the following week. On that Thursday, however, I became faint and my blood pressure had escalated to extremely unsafe levels. I went to a local ER where they insisted I have surgery for the aneurysm there. I was adamant that I be treated by my vascular surgeon. The ER doctor would not allow this until he spoke to my doctor at Virginia Mason. After several phone calls this was accomplished and I was transported to Virginia Mason via ambulance. Within an hour after arriving, both the vascular surgeon and urologist came to my room to talk to me about what needed to be done. The surgeon performed a successful operation on the aneurysm early the next morning and I was soon able to go home.
Meanwhile, I was still vacillating about whether to treat my prostate cancer with surgery or chemotherapy and radiation. I took a short vacation with my family and when I returned, I decided to have the surgery. Again, it was a success. I've had a few issues with my bladder that are slowly improving and I will be doing follow-up radiology as a precaution.
Through all of this, the thing that has really impressed me about Virginia Mason is that there are no "unknowns." Every question gets answered and I've never felt confused or worried. Everyone always has the time to talk with me at every level. From the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave, you feel like the focus is on you. When you're dealing with a serious medical issue like cancer, it can't get much better than that.