This new page is under construction

It's purpose is to have Classmates share there Medical experiences. The idea is to inform and to ease fear and anxity about Medical diagnoses and treatment of the problems that many of us are or will be facing.

We are inviting anyone to contribute if they think they have a story that may help someone.

Carol Maitland has agreed to write about her Heart Valve surgery and how she came to decide on an animal valve.

AMYLOIDOSIS - Barbara Landin Egger

Barbara Landin Egger has Amyloidosis and has done a lot of research and had a lot of tests to help her. She wants everyone to be aware of this disease as she had a hard time finding out what her problem was.

What is Amyloidosis?Amyloidosis is a group of diseases in which one or more organ systems in the body accumulate deposits of abnormal proteins. The name "amyloidosis" was first used more than 100 years ago but cases were described over 300 years ago. However, only within the past 20 years have physicians understood the specific make-up and structure of amyloid protein. Although amyloidosis is not cancer, it is very serious. It is disabling or life threatening. However, growing awareness of the condition seems to be leading to substantial new research and treatment alternatives.

KNEE SURGERY - Submitted by Denny Grossman

When I was 58 yrs. old my knees sometimes hurt and one felt like it would collapse at times. I was always active and lifting heavy things. Delivering bakery products for 35 yrs. required climbing in and out of truck about 60 times a night while carrying products. This took a toll on my knee joints.

Upon getting opinions from an Orthopedic Doctor Hambrecht and his associates, I had several X-rays and they showed that I had a lot of deterioration of my knee cartilage so it was bone on bone. They suggested to do my left knee with a replacement and in the future my right knee would need to be replaced also.

The surgery in 1995 took about 4 hrs. and the hospital stay was 5 days. The second day they want you to start exercising the new knee so that the ligaments and muscles will get working again. They took two pints of my blood the two weeks before surgery and I used it all after the operation. I had intravenous feeding so as not to get dehydrated, vacuum air bags on my legs to keep the circulation going, and a drain for blood in the new operation. I also had a pain medication needle in my arm and could squeeze and get the pain medication as needed.

It was very hard to be able to get into the restroom with all that was attached and they had to have it on a rack when I was going thru rehab with crutches. It is OK to put some weight on the new knee so that is a plus. You have to be able to get around on crutches and go up and down stairs before going home. They put the leg on a 24/7 flexing machine that you could increase the bending as you could handle pain wise.

It was great to get home as the hospital doesn't give you the comfort and it is not near as good as being in your own place. I had a therapist come by the house 3 days a week and had a list of exercises to stretch and make my new knee more flexible. At first it hurts to just bend your knee a little. I had 5 different exercises that I was to do 10 times about 3 times a day. Straight leg lift slowly, lying on back till at a 45 angle and then slowly back down. Also they had me do knee bends holding on sink and squatting as much as possible. They had me putting a towel around ankle while sitting and pulling leg back as far as possible sliding on bed. I had to lift knee and move from one side to the other in air. I had to put weights on foot and do leg lifts. Doing all these exercised really paid off as then I was almost as good as new about 6 weeks after operation.

At 2 weeks after operation they removed my staples. I have about a 12" scare on each knee now. My right knee hadn't been replaced and I was doing OK until I lifted and twisted it in Jan. 03. I kept working and was dragging my bad leg, had lots of pain and could hardly climb stairs. I had my second knee done in May of 2003. This surgery was about the same. The old knee had lots of arthritis. Now I can walk with no pain and they say the new knees will last about 15 yrs. I have a plastic knee cap on both replacements. The replacement itself is a metal hinge affair that is glued into the lower and upper leg bones.

Sharon Stevens Cox sent me a new knee procedure that they have just started and this uses computers to line the knees perfectly during the surgery when installing the new parts. This makes it so they do only need about an 8" cut and makes it easier to heal. It had only been done a couple of times but the article said it would be a common procedure in a few years.

I would be glad to answer any question anyone might have on this procedure. -

Sincerely, Denny Grossman

Prostate Cancer

My Story by Terry Ward

In May of 1992 I visited my General Practitioner on a totally unrelated matter. He said I had no problems that he could see but insisted that I schedule a complete physical as I had not had one for five years!

The next week Dr. Lagrelius did the physical and during the routine digital rectal exam he said he felt a very small bump. He assured me that it was probably nothing. My PSA test was only a 2 and only when the PSA reading is 4 or greater is there reason for concern. HOWEVER just to be safe he scheduled an appointment for me with a Urologist he knew and trusted.

The following week Dr. Mollenkamp performed a biopsy. That bump was the result of a pea sized young tumor. And it was CANCER!

I was 55 years old and my life ( I was sure) was over. I went straight to my Yacht Club and after 4 Martinis I cried like a baby.

The next morning I picked myself up and with the help of a doctor friend went to school, big time. He gave me everything he could find on the subject of Prostate Cancer and all the known possible ways to attack it. I met again with Dr. Mollenkamp. He felt that the tumor was confined to inside the Prostate gland. In his opinion, anything but complete removal was a crap shoot. I agreed with him from what little I had been able to read and learn. He insisted that I see an Oncologist to understand that there were treatment alternatives. He scheduled an appointment for me with the best Oncologist in Southern California.

When I entered the Oncologist's exam room I told him that I was 99% sure I wanted to have my Prostate surgically removed. He spent an hour with me and in the end he said he thought I had made the right decision.

The Doctors told me that Prostate Cancer can be very aggressive in men as young as 55. So we set a plan in motion. I bought a bicycle and started a hundred mile a week training program. I stopped ALL alcohol. I was never a smoker, so that was not a problem. I began giving my own blood for the surgery. We set a date of August 19th. I wanted it OUT and in a jar with the lid on tight!

When that date came I knew I was going to die! Not from the Radical Prostatectomy, I had studied the subject so much I felt I could assist in the surgery. People don't die from this surgery. No, I was terrified of the anthesis. I learned later that this fear is very common. I made a tape recording on which I told Nancy good bye and that I loved her. I hid the recorder and tape in my office and showed a friend where it was.

On the morning of August 19 I went into surgery, I had lost 25 pounds and was in better shape then I had been in twenty years. But I still knew I was going to DIE!

Three hours later I was the only one surprised when I WOKE UP! I didn't know it at the time but my blood presser was only 60 over 40. I thought I felt great! When I got to my room I called a good friend and in a morphine stupor babbled to him how great I felt. A couple of hours later my blood presser kicked into normal and then WOW, I really felt good.

I am not going to go into the details of my recovery in this document. I know that to anyone anticipating this procedure the recovery facts are very important. They certainly were to me and luckily I had the opportunity to read the journal of someone who had been there and done that. Anyone wanting to know need only contact me and I will gladly share my experience with them.

A few months after my surgery I was contacted by a staff member at the American Cancer Society. The ACS realized how important it was for newly diagnosed patients to be able to talk someone that was a Cancer survivor. The ACS trained about 20 of us Cancer Survivor Volunteers. The program is called MAN to MAN. Men are matched with volunteers who have had a variety of treatments. This program is available throughout the US. People need to feel that although I advocate surgery, there are other options as well.

I spent the next 7 years telling my story to patients for the ACS. I counseled over 100 individuals one on one and because of my Public speaking experience (I was a sitting Councilman at the time) I spoke to Rotory and other Service Clubs as well as corporate groups. I write this in hopes that it will help someone. This Cancer that has taken so many wonderful people CAN BE CURED if caught in time. There is no such thing as a slight or mild case of Cancer. You either have it or you don't. And if you choose NOT to remove it, keep in mind that it is still there. It MAY be dormant and inactive, but it is still there and may wake up some day. Please don't wait too long to do something. Please also understand that I am very opinionated on this subject, I paid my dues!

What is the Prostate? Where is the Prostate? What do it do? Can we live without it?

The prostate is a gland found only in men. It is about the size of a walnut and, when a man is standing, is located in front of the rectum, behind the base of the penis, and under the bladder. The prostate surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that caries urine and semen out of the penis.

The Function of the prostate gland is to produce some of the seminal fluid, which protects and nourishes sperm cells, The cells that make up the prostate gland grow and stay healthy because of the influence of male hormones, such as testosterone.

And YES, we can live without a Prostate, we just can't reproduce.

What is PSA?

The PSA blood test measures a protein (prostate-specific antigen) made by prostate cells. PSA results are reported as ng/ml, which stands for nanograms per milliliter. Results under 4ng/ml are usually considered normal. If your level is above 4 but less than 10, you have about a 25% chance of having prostate cancer. If it goes above 10, your chances are higher. But factors other than cancer can also cause the PSA level to go up. And your PSA level will also go up slowly as you get older. Men with a high PSA will need further tests to find out if they actually have cancer.

A PSA test is only a tool and is not hard and fast when finding Cancer. My PSA was only 2 when we learned that I had Cancer. In some people the PSA can exceed 10, yet Cancer cannot be found. PSA is something to watch and pay attention to. A Digital Rectal Exam and a PSA test should be done at least yearly for every man over 50 years of age. After a PSA test ask what the reading is and write it down. "It's OK" is NOT a valid answer. You want to plot the results each time you have the test. Is the PSA rising or falling?

Here is a Link to find out more about Prostate-Specific Antigen

What is Prostate Cancer ? How do we look for it?

The medical term for a cancer that starts in glandular cells is adenocarcinoma. Because other types of prostate cancer are so rare, if you have prostate cancer, it is almost certain to be adenocarcinoma.

Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms and is found by a PSA test and/or DRE (Digital Rectal Exam).

If a PSA test and/or DRE are suspicious than a core needle biopsy is used to diagnose prostate cancer Here is a Link to find out more about Diagnoses

What are the Stages of Prostate Cancer?

There are number of systems used to describe the stages of Prostate Cancer.
Basicly there are 5 stages.

STAGE 1 - Your cancer is small and still within the prostate and has not spread to lymph nodes or elsewhere in your body.

STAGE 2 - Your cancer is still within the prostate and has not spread to your lymph nodes or elsewhere in your body, but is now more advanced.

STAGE 3 - Your cancer has begun to spread outside your prostate and may have spread to the seminal vesicles, but it has not spread to your lymph nodes or elsewhere in your body

STAGE 4 - The cancer has spread to tissues next to your prostate. Possibly the rectum, the wall of your pelvis, the lymph nodes, and/or more distant sites in your body.

STAGE 5 - The cancer has spread to bone or other organs. (Metastasis)

What can we do if we find Prostate Cancer?

There are many ways to treat Prostate Cancer. Here are just a few.

Radical Prostatectomy - Surgical removal of the Prostate Gland and the Seminal Vesicles
If the Cancer was confined to the Prostate Gland only, then the Cancer is gone.

Radiation - By a series of treatments aimed at the tumor from different angles. This can be daily for six or seven weeks. Never from the same angle. This is sometimes referred to as the Good Cell Bad Cell. The target (the tumor) is always hit, the surrounding cells are only touched once.
At the conclusion of treatment the Cancer "May" be left dormant.

Radiation Implants - This is the insertion of radiation tipped probes around the tumor. In some treatments the probes are left in place for a period of time (about 24 hours) and then removed. In other methods the probes are removed immediately but leave the "Radiated Pellet" in place.
At the conclusion of treatment the Cancer "May" be left dormant.

Cryogenics - Probes are inserted around the tumor and then filled with liquid nitrogen to "Freeze" the tumor.
At the conclusion of treatment the Cancer "May" be left dormant.

Chemical - The use of drugs to reduce the size of the Prostate Gland
No likely effect on the Cancer itself.

Nothing - Don't do anything. Let it ride it's course.

The following are things for you to concider before any treatment decision is made.

Your age and expected life span

Your feelings about the side effects associated with each treatment

Any other serious health conditions you may have

The likelihood that each type of treatment will be curative

The stage and grade of your cancer

It is critical to determine the Stage of the Cancer before choosing a method of treatment. If the Cancer is Stage 1 or 2 then Radical Prostatectomy is a must concider. Maybe even Stage 3. I told you that I was very opinionated on this subject. I truly believe that to do anything else at this point is "A CRAP SHOOT".

For cancers that have progressed beyoud STAGE 3 it maybe too late for Radical Prostatectomy to be effective. It's now up to you and your Doctor to make that decision. Don't give up here, there are still many things that can be done to help you beat this.

Here is a Link to find out more about Treatment

Can there be life after Prostate Cancer?

You bet! It has not changed my life at all.

More of MY Comments and Opinions

There are risks associated with each treatment method. They demand serious concideration. New knowledge and technics have reduced the risks of Radical Prostatectomy since my surgery in 1992. Impotence and incontinence are the scariest of prospects. The risk of incontinence was greatly reduced in 1997 when Doctors found a new way to eliminate damage to the sphincter during surgery. The introduction of Viagra eases the burden of impotence.

Like most Cancers, if you find it and act early you can beat Prostate Cancer!

Terry has also agree to write about his Bypass surgery and his later Stint implant.