Retired minister facing prostate cancer finds swift, thorough and compassionate care
To say Richard Hendry is accomplished is an understatement. A minister, writer, marketing consultant, producer and television voiceover talent, it seemed like Richard could do anything. So it’s probably not surprising that he could defeat prostate cancer as well.
Richard had just retired from the United Methodist ministry in 2012 where he was a clergyman for 46 years. A Kiwi by birth, Richard emigrated to the U.S. from Christchurch, New Zealand, in the early 1980s. He worked in several Colorado cities, but eventually settled in Littleton with his wife, Lisa. He worked as a senior minister at Littleton United Methodist Church for 16 years until the mandated retirement age of 72.
Richard keeps himself busier in retirement than most people who still punch a time clock. He works as a professional writer, television producer and voiceover professional. He is also a serious amateur photographer and world traveler.
After an annual visit with his primary physician, he was told his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level was elevated. His physician recommended that he visit Dr. Stanley Galansky at Urology Associates for further testing.
Dr. Galansky was initially concerned at Richard’s steadily increasing PSA levels. During a digital rectal exam, he discovered an abnormality in Richard’s prostate. The discovery prompted a biopsy and Richard described the procedure as, “unpleasant but bearable.”
Of the dozen samples of tissue, one contained cancer cells. Fortunately, when they were discovered they were growing slowly.
“Hearing the results of my biopsy confirmed what I knew was probably true – still, it was hard to hear,” says Richard. “No one wants to hear the word cancer. Suddenly, one must deal with a myriad of feelings as one attempts to come to grips with our body’s seeming treachery and the implications of radiation or surgery and possibly, death.”
To treat prostate cancer or not to treat
There was a possibility that Richard could “outlive his cancer,” meaning that he would die of natural causes before the prostate tumor would kill him. But Richard and Dr. Galansky both agreed: why take the chance?
Doctors probably disagree about prostate cancer treatment more than any other cancer treatment. This is primarily because prostate cancer is slow growing and typically not life threatening for years after it starts growing. As a result, deciding when and whether or not to begin treatment can be a contentious topic, on which there is rarely universal consensus among physicians.
If a patient decides to undergo surgery to remove the prostate tumor, there’s a risk of incontinence and impotence. After discussing the possible treatment options with Dr. Galansky, Richard chose the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System at Anova Cancer Care in Lone Tree, Colorado. A close partner with Urology Associates, Anova’s CyberKnife system delivers beams of high-dose radiation to tumors with sub-millimeter accuracy and has less side effects than other treatments.
Richard underwent five treatments, one every other day and each lasting about 45 minutes.
“All in all, it was actually a pleasant experience,” says Richard, who was able to lie on a comfortable treatment table dressed in casual clothes and listen to the classical music that he brought with him.
Richard experienced no side effects from his treatment, and his PSA has fallen from a high of 9.0 to .38 – far lower than most men his age (75). He still visits Dr. Galansky every six months for a check in. Richard’s advice for all men is to find a urologist who you trust to perform an annual examination and a PSA blood test.
“I was blessed with Dr. Stanley Galansky’s diligence and compassion,” says Richard. “I plan to live a long, full and active life!”