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If Your Husband Has Prostate Cancer

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Here's what you need to know about worst case scenarios

My husband died from prostate cancer, which they are now debating about screening for. He was young too; 65 when he died, 59 when diagnosed. Yes, he had a PSA test, and his PSA rose every year and they told him to wait. Then they told him to have a biopsy. They didn't find it on the biopsies for two more years, although he still had a rising PSA. The biopsies were cancer free until they weren't. When they weren't, he had a Gleason score of 7 on a scale of 1-10. The Gleason score doesn't tell you if the cancer has spread, but it does tell you how primitive it is, which means how aggressive and unlikely to be contained.

He had to have surgery with a score like that. We went to Mayo. When he had surgery, at the end of the operation the surgeon said it was left in one little lymph node. He admitted he didn't "get everything" and couldn't. But everything else was fine, and he recovered quickly.

At the time, I talked to a number of surgeons at the VA hospital, who see more of this than anyone else. I don't care what they say about robotic surgeons, etc. You have to talk to guys who have done massive numbers of cases. The guy at the VA hospital told me people with a Gleason 7 have 4-5 years, and to take advantage of them.

Gerry didn't want the surgery. He was a physician, and having diagnosed a lot of cancers, he thought it was more important to have quality of life. I convinced him to have it. Magical thinking: the surgical fix. Gerry spent time being incontinent, and of course impotent. He eventually got a penile implant (ego).

But we did live every moment and had a wonderful time. Until very near the end, he felt fine. He used to say to me, "for an old guy dying of cancer, I feel better than you do."

He went for all the treatments, hormones and everything, but it metastasized to his spine.

He died 4.5 years later. The guy at the VA was right.

That being said, things have improved for metastic PCA in the last ten years since he died. But be careful not to force your husband to go through too much. Let him make all the decisions. It is, after all, his life.

I learned to live with his cancer, and be joyful. Gerry was also joyful. I read a lot of medical literature, and they are now trying to stop screening people by PSA, because it isn't a very useful tool. The literature still, twelve years after he died, goes back and forth on how aggressively to treat prostate cancer, as it is now going back and forth on breast cancer screening.

They are now finding that aggressive screening does not lengthen life, catching cancer early may not extend life, and that some people's cancer never bothers them and they die of something else. Sign up for Medscape.com, which is what the doctors read, and you will know everything they kow.

Life is still a mystery. No one knows. Be here now.

Add a Comment9 Comments

my husband has agleason score of 7 with 4 positive cores does this mean he only has 4 years left hes 53

October 31, 2013 - 2:38pm

Your husband's story sound similar to mine. He is 59, a physician and has prostate cancer. He had robotic surgery 2 years ago, radiation and now is on lupron. We are going to Italy next month and are trying to live one day at a time. I am an RN and returned to work when he was first diagnosed. Work helps me focus. It isn't easy--but it is the hand we have been dealt. I try not to force him about treatment choices. I want him to have as much quality of life as possible.

March 26, 2011 - 7:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Francine - Thank you for sharing. You sound at peace. My husband died August 26, 2010. He was 57. Your story sounds similar to mine except he couldn't have the surgery. It was too risky, Gleason score of 9, stage 3. He was diagnosed Dec. 26, 2006. He did have his trips to Puerto Rico when he could. He was bombarded with all the treatments but they didn't work. The cancer still went to his spine. I'm glad to have found your story. I'm not alone. God bless you and take care of yourself. Evelyn

October 13, 2010 - 4:50pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Evelyn - Thanks for writing and welcome to EmpowHER. I'm sorry you lost your husband and glad that Francine's comments were helpful. How are you doing these days? The loss of a love is never easy, and is worse with cancer. Have you found your own peace and sense of balance? Is there anything we can help you with, or did you just want to say hello?
Take care,

October 13, 2010 - 5:26pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Francine - Thanks so much for all that you do to help others understand what it's like to have cancer, or to care for someone who does. Your knowledge has an impact beyond measure, especially the call to live every day to the fullest.
Take good care,

October 12, 2009 - 5:37pm

Wow, Francine.

What a journey you and your husband took together. I am sad that he is no longer here with you, since it appears that earlier attention to his PSA numbers would have helped. But I am in awe at how the two of you were together and what a smart and loving opinion you have now about being the partner of a person dealing with cancer. Also, thank you for the Medscape tip. I am bookmarking now!

Please write more about yourself when you care to. I can tell that you have much you can share with us on many topics, and I would love to read it.

October 12, 2009 - 8:39am

Mine was twelve years ago, and things have changed since then, but I can tell that we aren't really in charge of prostate cancer yet as I see the pendulum swing back and forth between valuing the PSA and de-valuing it as an indicator.

October 9, 2009 - 8:32pm
EmpowHER Guest

So sorry your husband lost his battle. I could identify with much of your story. My husband's PSA was rising for several years before anyone alerted us about it. I often wonder if we could have avoided his recurrence if the doctors had told us earlier. You can read my story here on this site: https://www.empowher.com/community/share/i-thought-my-husband-was-too-young-prostate-cancer-yet-he-was-diagnosed-age-49

October 9, 2009 - 7:17pm

You sound like you had a strong and supportive marriage Francine and a great view on life. Thanks for sharing your story.

July 25, 2009 - 9:19pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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