This true story is being shared at the request of the deceased.
Tom Lucas retired as a captain with the Edmonton Fire Department after 30 years of service at the age of 54. He and his wife decided to retire to a midsize Okanagan Valley city.
Tom enjoyed an active lifestyle including winters in Arizona and Mexico.
While a firefighter, he meticulously followed required medical protocol, which included a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test. This blood test is used primarily to screen for prostate cancer.
While enjoying his retirement, Tom continued to have annual medical reviews but without PSA testing as his medical doctor did not order them.
Approximately 8 years after arriving in the Okanagan, Tom’s wife queried the lack of PSA testing while reminding Tom that his brother had been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.
Tom agreed that he was remiss to not have requested PSA testing.
On his next medical review, he stated his desire for a PSA test. The medical doctor informed Tom that he did not order them for his patients as the results were “inconclusive”. Tom pressed for testing which showed a PSA score of 38. A normal score for a person of Tom’s age is 3.
When abnormal results are derived from a PSA screening test, a biopsy may be recommended. A biopsy was undertaken in which 8 probes were inserted. Each of the 8 probes showed positive cancer. Tom’s results were rated as a Gleason Score 8. The maximum is 10. A Gleason Score biopsy result greater than 7 can be an indication of intermediate or high risk of prostate cancer. 1.
After reviewing Tom’s results, the urologist informed Tom that he had a very aggressive form of prostate cancer. He estimated Tom’s life expectancy at 3-5 years.
Tom contacted the Interior Cancer Centre in Kelowna and began a prolonged involvement including treatment, clinical trials and oncological supervision.
Tom became a meticulous researcher of prostate cancer, treatment and results. His newly found disease did not lesson his adventurous lifestyle, but it now included becoming a disciple of spreading the “word” about prostate cancer and the importance of continuous PSA testing. Tom became an active member of his local Prostate Cancer Support Group and engaged in considerable outreach presentations.
Tom became the guru of his support group regarding current information relating to prostate cancer. He continued to live as active a lifestyle as his declining health permitted. His tenacity and “joie de vie” resulted in him experiencing life for 8 years from the time of initial diagnosis of the prostate cancer.
Tom made a request to this writer that his story be shared so that men will see the need to take responsibility of looking after their own health needs and recognize that a PSA test is an accurate indicator that may require further investigation and consultation by patient with medical personnel.
1 Prostate Cancer Free Foundation