I first learned that my dad, Cliff Leavenworth, had prostate cancer on my birthday, February 6th. He was diagnosed months before so of course myself and my brother were very upset about the news. He told me, "I just didn't want to burden you with worry. Sooner or later, I knew you had to know."
The "C" word is incredibly scary, especially when it's your dad involved. His PSA score had gone from 4 to 39 in a short period. Sacred Heart radiation oncologist Dr. Gerald Lowery said it went from being low risk to high risk. Something had to be done. They discussed all the options: surgery, radiation, or simply doing nothing. They decided radiation was the best course of action.
My dad said, "I prayed about it. I'm a Christian. I asked the Lord to guide me where the proper treatment would be done."
He was set to do either five or eight weeks of radiation four days a week. However radiation can have side effects that damage your rectum because it's so close to the prostate.
The stories sometimes make patients want to skip treatment altogether. Dr. Lowery said, "If they hear these bad stories it gives them pause. Now we have a tool to help relax them."
That tool is called Space Oar. It protects the rectum so it's not being radiated during treatment. My dad fit the criteria and was the first patient at Sacred Heart to get it.
Dr. Lowery has seen incredible results, "It's reducing rectal injury, rectal bleeding, mucus formation, we are seeing that go down."
Here's how it works. It's a gel and they insert it using a needle under anesthesia. There's no recovery time and the gel dissolves in three months.
Dr. Lowery said, "The gel comes in here and fills that space and separates rectal wall from prostate by about 10 millimeters."
For my dad, so far, so good. No side effects. Dr Lowery feels he should be cancer free within a few months.
They are in the beginning stages of getting insurance coverage for the treatment, but Sacred Heart will work with patients and get them financial aid if they qualify.