55-year-old Chicago resident Rick Kasprzak has been on an emotional two-year roller-coaster that, not a minute too soon, is finally slowing down.
In summer 2011, Rick saw his primary care physician for an annual physical exam, including a blood test for prostate cancer. The results were higher than normal. However, the situation was not critical, just something that needed to be monitored.
In summer of 2012, Rick was back at his doctor’s office for his annual exam. This time, he was told he should see a urologist for further evaluation. A biopsy was made and last December, he learned he was tested positive for prostate cancer.
“It was one of those events in your life where everything just kind of stops,” said Kasprzak, who lives in Chicago with his partner Jim Lawless. “I had no symptoms; nothing felt different at all. … I just had a lot of unanswered questions.”
Days later, Kasprzak went to a specialist who suggested a few treatment options, including surgery and radiation. Since it was not at the critical phase, Kasprzak sought additional input and ideas, especially from non-medical personnel. “I wanted to talk to another man who has had this,” he said. He talked about treatment options with several and learned about potential after-effects, including impotence.
Rick was suggested to consider female hormone therapy, which would last for eight months, and side-affects would be similar to a women in menopause, including hot flashes, weight gain, tender breasts, mood swings, and more. “I thought my options sucked”, Rick said.
After a while, Rick was lucky enough to meet a man who underwent the same thing. He told him all about his proton radiation therapy and a treatment center in Warrenville, one of only 10 such centers in the U.S. Rick ultimately picked that plan and started the 44-day treatment at the end of March.
He finished his treatment in May, and had his first three-month, post-treatment exam on August 19. He’s improving. “I don’t think I could be any more pleased with the outcome than I am right now. Is it fate? Absolutely!” Rick said. He is now willing and interested in serving as a resource and advocate for others in need, with questions. “I want to be an advocate for gay men with prostate cancer.”