|In June of 2013 I heard the most dreaded four words a man can hear, “You Have Prostate Cancer”. These words were even more devastating to me because I believed that my fate would be the same as was my fathers who died in 1992 from prostate cancer. My urologist who was tasked with delivering this news was extremely nice and gave me information about all my options for treatment.
I did what every 56 year old male diagnosed with prostate cancer would do and that was to log on to my computer and research all the options on the internet. In my opinion the internet is the best and worst invention in the world. The amount of information available is mind boggling and if anything it can make the decision even more difficult. In my case the decision was fast as almost immediately after hearing the news I decided that I wanted the prostate removed regardless of the complications that were possible as explained on the web. My dad did not want to have surgery and decided when he was diagnosed that radiation was his best option. The radiation slowed the growth of his cancer but was unable to destroy it. With three children at home, the youngest being six, I wanted the problem removed.
My first meeting with Dr. Berkman is one I will never forget. Although the initial shock of my diagnosis had worn off my apprehension was still extremely high. All that trepidation disappeared within two minutes of our meeting. Dr. Berkman had already read my chart before he came in and he immediately explained to me in detail about how the surgery would be performed with him using a robotic arm that he would be controlling from a desk across the room. This method of surgery was the least invasive and if all went well I should be pretty close to back to normal within a couple weeks. I explained to Dr. Berkman the history involving my father and he took the time to explain to me the difference between the type surgery that would have been performed on my dad in 1992 versus the robotic surgery which he would perform on me. After a short examination I asked Dr. Berkman to schedule me for the next available surgery date. I felt that Dr. Berkman was confident in the machine and even more confident in his ability to rid me of this same type cancer that took my father. When I walked out of his office I can honestly say that I had no fear. I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive for the surgery and was not worried at all.
My surgery was scheduled for late afternoon and I was instructed to report to the hospital around noon. When I walked in to the surgery center I believe my wife, daughter and mother were more worried than I was. The staff was extremely nice and after I was prepped they allowed my family to join me while I waited my turn. Unfortunately for them my turn was delayed a bit but we were kept informed that my surgery was still a go and that Dr. Berkman would be out to see me shortly. I felt a bit embarrassed as soon after Dr. Berkman walked in to my waiting area my mom quizzed him sternly as to whether he was too tired to perform my surgery as by this time it was early evening. Dr. Berkman assured her that he was fine and that he was ready to go. A few minutes passed and Dr. Berkmans Head head nurse arrived with a smile and wheeled me to the operating room. The last thing I remember before being sedated was I was so impressed with the professionalism of all the people in the room. Everyone was busy preparing me and the room for my surgery. I remember everyone had a specific job and they really knew what they were doing.
When I woke up in recovery my family was there with me and after a few minutes Dr. Berkman walked up and advised that all had gone as planned and he believed the cancer had been isolated to my prostate gland. He advised that a few samples of tissue had been sent to the lab to confirm this fact but he was pretty confident I would be cancer free.
I spent that night at Virtua Memorial Hospital and was discharged by noon of the following day. I had a couple small incisions on my stomach and I wondered if there would be any discomfort but I never felt any pain at all. The catheter that I had to wear for a week was the most uncomfortable part of the entire procedure but I know this was necessary to allow for the stitches which were used to attach my bladder to my urethra to heal. This all was explained to me in detail by Dr. Berkman on my initial visit so this was no surprise. Within a week of the catheter being removed I was pretty much back to my old self. I was able to do most things that I had done prior to my surgery. I had very few limitations but was totally pain free.
I have had two friends contact me since my Prostatectomy asking for my opinion and questioning me as to how painful the procedure was, what side effects I have experienced, how well I liked my surgeon and finally whether I would make the same decision if I had to go through this again. My answer has been the procedure was virtually painless. I have had minimal side effects which after meeting with Dr. Berkman on my follow-up checkups have pretty much been eliminated. Dr. Berkman I believe saved my life. As I have previously stated I was put at ease within minutes of meeting with him. He has answered most of my questions before I even asked them from our first meeting until my most recent follow-up visit. If there is a question which I still have he takes the time to answer it thoroughly and in terms that I understand. I have never doubted my decision and if I had to make the decision again it would be the same and no one other than Dr. Berkman would be the Dr. to perform this life saving procedure.