How HIFU Has Been Helping Patients
To say that Josh Lerman is passionate about HIFU as a treatment for prostate cancer would be an understatement. When speaking to him you can feel his excitement. He has dedicated his life to helping other men who have received a prostate cancer diagnosis find their way to HIFU.
Josh lives right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has lived there all his life. He is a mortgage loan officer and enjoys watching basketball. However, his great passion in life is his family: his wife, Geralyn, and their three kids, daughters Kaitlyn and Kelsey, and son Sean.
When Josh was 27 his father had back pain. While at a doctor’s appointment with his dad, Josh heard the doctor utter the awful news, “your father’s PSA is 70.” His father’s back pain was caused by a metastatic tumor on his back, originating from the prostate. Josh watched his father, his idol, wither away over the next year and a half, ultimately succumbing to his cancer.
Thinking of himself and his own son, who, then, was only one year old, Josh began educating himself. It was something that he always had in the back of his mind. Years later, he stumbled upon HIFU and believed in it wholeheartedly. At age 35 he asked his doctor for a baseline PSA due to his family history of prostate cancer.
At age 53 he received another PSA that subsequently tripled from 1.1 to 3.1 in a year. He felt he had cancer; but Josh knew he needed to get the best diagnosis possible and he spoke to his urologist about getting a multi-parametric MRI to pinpoint the exact location of the tumor in his prostate. He said he was glad he did because he is confident that if he only had a standard biopsy, without the MRI images to guide the placement of the needles, they would have missed the cancer all together.
Now was the time to put his research to good use. He reviewed his previous research, and knew that it was time to treat his prostate cancer with HIFU, however, it was not covered by insurance.
In March of 2016, Josh found a nearby HIFU physician that he decided was the man to perform his HIFU. The urologist called him personally to discuss his case. He treated him as a person, and noted every little detail of Josh’s case.
On September 20, 2016, with the help of his family and friends and careful financial planning, Josh had HIFU to treat his prostate cancer.
Following the procedure Josh felt great and had no trouble moving around. He recalls that the catheter was the worst part of the procedure. Several days later, he and his daughter went to dinner to celebrate a successful surgery. They were sitting at the restaurant, overlooking a park, and Josh thought “this is the moment.” The moment he had been waiting for. Healthy. Cancer removed. A stranger comes up to them out of the blue and asks “can I take your picture to capture the moment?”
It was all too stunning to Josh. A picture-perfect scene. And all of this, on his father’s birthday.
Josh soon returned to his daily activities with zero issues and no soreness.
The biggest benefit of HIFU is the fact that if you catch it early, it will cure your cancer, with minimal side effects.
To men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, Josh would say to do your research. Educate yourself. By doing his research, being proactive, and finding a cure, Josh is now able to continue his passion of raising awareness for prostate cancer and of course, enjoy his beloved family.
Larry Rogers has traveled all over the world as a part of working for his family-owned business that works with whiskey distilleries. In fact, Larry has been to Ireland so often to work with Irish distillers that they even gave him Irish citizenship.
It was in September of 2015, shortly before one of these regular trips to Ireland, that Larry discovered that he had prostate cancer. He spent that seven hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean really coming to terms with what it meant to have cancer and how it might impact his future and health overall. That was a lot to think about.
Larry had always been active. He watched what he ate, took care of himself, kept his weight down. He did all the things he thought would keep him healthy. Prostate cancer was not supposed to happen to him. It was not part of this plan.
“I was diagnosed by my long-time urologist who I had been seeing for 20 years,” said Larry. “He talked to me about the treatment options and I started making plans to have radiation therapy.”
Larry knew this meant 43 sessions of radiation, every day of the week except for the weekends. “I was not looking forward to it. I knew the side effects caused by radiation,” said Larry. “I had watched two of my sisters receive radiation for breast cancer and I was well aware of the things they were having to deal with.”
However, when he got home from that trip, a magazine caught his eye and changed his prostate cancer treatment plan. The magazine had a cover story about a HIFU device called the Sonablate. He read the article about HIFU being approved for use in the U.S. (in October 2015) and how the HIFU treatment was being offered in the country (outside of a clinical trial).
“I wanted to learn more,” said Larry. “I wanted to know if I was a candidate for HIFU because it sounded a lot better than radiation. My doctor ran a few tests and eventually came back and told me I did qualify for HIFU.”
Larry explained that, “compared to what I was looking at with radiation in terms of side effects and the treatment itself, HIFU was a no-brainer.”
Before the procedure, Larry admits that he didn’t have that many concerns, “I trusted my doctor wholeheartedly, if he recommended it for me, then I was good with it.”
Larry had HIFU in January 2016 and says, “Everything was totally fine. I had the treatment in the morning and went home later that afternoon. I had a catheter for about seven days but once that came out, everything went back to normal.”
Larry’s PSA dropped to 0.02 and stayed there. He had no urinary problems and no sexual problems.
After I got home, I waited for the pain to start,
but there never was any pain. I kept thinking to myself –
How could this be this easy? Surely, there is some kind
of dark cloud coming – but it never came.
Larry feels like he avoided a lot of complications that he has seen other men experience after choosing something other than HIFU. He has also seen men who choose radiation have very limited options for treatment after their cancer comes back.
“I think one of the biggest benefits of HIFU is that you can do it again if you need to. Or you can have any other treatment,” said Larry
When Larry encounters men just diagnosed with prostate cancer he encourages them to do their own investigation and be comfortable with their own decision, but he always highly recommends HIFU.
“I don’t know why anyone would choose surgery or radiation if they could have HIFU,” said Larry.
Now when Larry travels, prostate cancer rarely crosses his mind. He is grateful for the cancer-free life he is living thanks to HIFU.
If you ask Hal, he will tell you that he is a semi-retired, international logistics consultant who has owned and operated his own business for many years.
If his wife, Mary, hears him say he is “semi-retired,” she will laugh and probably roll her eyes. “He was supposed to retire 15 years ago, but he’s still working,” said Mary. However, one thing that Hal and Mary can agree on is that they made a good treatment decision when Hal was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“I could tell that he felt really good about HIFU. He had confidence in the technology that it was going to work. I was a little nervous about all the unknowns, but ultimately I knew that if he felt good about it he would have a good experience – so I felt good about it too,” said Mary.
Hal may have ultimately been confident in HIFU, but it was a conclusion he came to after doing a lot of research – and connecting with a lot of people.
“I followed my PSA for many years with my family doctor but he ultimately referred me to a urologist for a biopsy,” said Hal. The pathology report indicated that he had prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 7.
“The first urologist we saw outlined several traditional treatments including surgery and radiation; I felt really uncomfortable with what I heard about the potential side effects,” said Hal. “We were given some brochures and told to read them and decide what we wanted to do. At that point, we went into research mode,” said Mary.
“We saw a handful of doctors and it was not pleasant, informative or reassuring,” said Mary. “The physicians were focused on conventional treatment options, and we felt like each of them was trying to sell us on a specific treatment that they were personally invested in. It was very disheartening.”
“We found one book that had a single page about HIFU. Hal is an ‘early adopter,’ and he was intrigued. But a urologist we spoke with was dismissive,” said Mary.
Coincidentally, Mary and Hal talked to a neighbor who connected them to a friend who had had a successful HIFU procedure several years ago. Hal was able to talk to him at length and felt a heightened interest in the technique. He then found a urologist in nearby city that offered HIFU.
Meeting with the HIFU physician was very different than their experiences with the other doctors they had seen. “He was so open and empathetic. He answered all our questions and was just very informative,” said Hal.
“He was not selling any one particular approach. It was a very different kind of appointment from others we’d had,” added Mary.
Hal chose to have HIFU the following month and a couple of friends accompanied him to the hospital for moral support - and one ended up having HIFU himself a few months later, also with the same physician.
Hal is happy to report that after HIFU, his PSA dropped from 7 to 0.1 and has stayed stable ever since. Almost more importantly, he had no adverse side effects.
HIFU may not be “the answer” for every man, but for families researching their options, we would urge you to consider HIFU.
Prior to being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Glenn Seymour worked in the field of radiation oncology, and had a background in treatments for prostate cancer.
During his annual physical in the early part of 2010, his internist discovered he had a PSA of 4.2 and recommended that he see a specialist. Glenn went to see a urologist that performed a biopsy which indicated that 2 of the cores were positive for prostate cancer and he had a Gleason score of 6.
His immediate reaction was, “Oh NO, I have cancer.” Next, he went online to do some research. Having worked in the field of radiation, he knew enough to know he didn’t want to go through a 30-day treatment protocol of radiation therapy. He also knew that he didn’t want surgery since his father had surgery and wore diapers the rest of his life.
He investigated Cyberknife understanding that it could be done relatively quickly- meaning in five treatments.
Next, he went to Duke University Medical Center and met with urologists who encouraged him to do active surveillance, six months later his PSA had risen to 4.8. This immediately alarmed him because of how quickly the PSA was increasing. At this point, he got very serious about which treatment plan he wanted to pursue. A friend of his who is a radiation oncologist suggested that he consider radioactive seeds, also known as brachytherapy. He made an appointment, then got measured and prescreened to have seeds implanted.
Shortly after, Glenn got a call from his mother. She told him that someone they knew, a friend named Matt, just had a procedure called HIFU with a local urologist in nearby Raleigh, North Carolina. Glenn immediately contacted Matt who had HIFU about 3 months previously. After Matt told Glenn all about HIFU he called and put his brachytherapy procedure on hold. He wanted to research HIFU as a treatment option for himself.
Glenn turned to the Internet and found a group in Toronto, Canada that was offering HIFU for prostate cancer. He called them to learn about their procedure, and simultaneously met with the local urologist. He explained that he was planning to go to Canada, and that is when he learned that there are two different HIFU devices for prostate cancer. Not all HIFU is the same. He left the doctor’s office knowing that he wanted to have Sonablate HIFU.
At this point, his PSA had risen to 6.8.
“The local HIFU physician I met with said that he would treat me with whatever method I decided was right for me. It was really beneficial to have a physician who could offer me a wide range of treatment options and educate me on all of them. He really could treat me with what was best for me,” said Glenn.
“I decided to have HIFU,” said Glenn. His procedure started at 9am and he was done by 11am. By 1pm he was headed back to the hotel. He had his procedure on a Saturday and was back to work on Monday.
My biggest concern prior to HIFU was what I watched my father go through with surgery. He had issues with urinary continence and erectile function. I didn’t want to deal with those issues. I have always been active and maintaining my sex life was pretty high on my list.
Glenn has been happy with his HIFU experience overall. “The last time I had my PSA checked it was 0.03, and I haven’t ever had an ED or continence issues. In fact, I was able to resume my sex life pretty soon after the procedure,” added Glenn.
Glenn acknowledges that HIFU isn’t right for every patient, but if a man talks about all the risks and benefits with his doctor and the doctor says he is a candidate for HIFU, Glenn recommends exploring it.
Jerry Peterman is a man who is used to helping other people. He spent a large majority of his life as a firefighter in Graham, NC, a town that he now has the honor of serving as mayor. He is a father, husband, and war veteran who continues to serve as a volunteer in the local fire department. Jerry knows what it means to serve people and to make a difference in his community.
However, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer approximately seven years ago, this was not something that he had a lot of experience dealing with. He had to explore how to help himself and which treatment option would be the best option to let him return quickly to his normal lifestyle.
Jerry was diagnosed with prostate cancer, like so many other men, after his regular physician detected that there might be a problem through a semi-annual check up. He was referred to a local urologist for further testing where it was confirmed that he did in fact have prostate cancer.
The first thought that went through his head was, “Why me?” but both Jerry and his wife Janice, are people who quickly get down to taking care of business, so they immediately asked his urologist about treatment options as well as the pros and cons of each. “My urologist gave us all the options and didn’t push us on anything in particular,” said Jerry.
I asked my urologist what he would do if he or his dad were facing prostate cancer and he said that he would choose HIFU. That is why I chose HIFU for my prostate cancer treatment.
“Honestly, my biggest concern prior to HIFU was just surviving.” said Jerry. “I watched other friends in the same situation make different decisions about treatment and unfortunately they are no longer with us now.”
Two weeks after Jerry was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was scheduled to have the HIFU procedure as an outpatient procedure.
“The overall HIFU experience was really great. The physician and everyone associated with the treatment and the hospital were all really great,” said Jerry. “I would recommend HIFU to any friend or family member who was diagnosed with prostate cancer.”
Shortly after the procedure, Jerry was able to return home and resume his normal activities within a few days, “I had to tell a few people what was going on so they could help me out some, but a few days after I was back, the town had a big BBQ festival and I was able to be there no problem. “
“Even though I had a few issues related to the catheter after HIFU, my urologist had explained everything to me and told me what to expect, so nothing was a big surprise,” said Jerry. “Overall, I have done really well – haven’t had any major problems.”
When asked what advice Jerry would give other men upon a prostate cancer diagnosis, he said, “I would tell them to study all their different treatment options. And I would tell them to find a doctor that they really trust and ask them what they would do.”
Today, Jerry is as happy as can be. It has been several years since HIFU and he doesn't really worry about prostate cancer anymore. Instead, Jerry spends his time focused on his community and his family, including its newest addition, his first grandchild.