Jonathan Barber Jonathan Barber

First post: Aug 2, 2017 Latest post: May 7, 2019
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Jonathan was diagnosed with " favorable intermediate risk prostate cancer" in June based on the results of a biopsy and an MRI. The reason for this testing was the velocity of his PSA numbers. He had no symptoms and had a routine prostate blood test and exam which showed slightly elevated PSA and perhaps an irregular shape to his prostate which had never been noted before.  The biopsy came first and resulted in a cancer diagnosis on May 4th, but we still did not know if it had spread to his lymph nodes or outside the prostate so we kept very quiet during this period in order to be able to keep the secret  long enough to tell Brierley (hopefully) the most optimistic background information around this scary diagnosis. 

****He is very lucky!****  We found out that cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes or outside his prostate when we got the MRI results. The MRI was done at a leading hospital which has strong magnets and so the oncologists saw what should be a fairly accurate image. His PSA number is far lower than many men who are told to "watch and wait", which is the main trend with this cancer as they have learned in years past that many cases were treated too aggressively when watching and waiting would have been ideal. We have been told clearly that he is not, however, one of those cases and that he must treat it right away. We consulted with medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists who were all in agreement that he should choose between radiation or surgery, but surgery was recommended by both medical oncologists at each hospital. It was the results of the biopsy, the nature of some of the cancer cells which were found, that indicated surgery this summer. The recovery is long, but when we found out he should not be in too much pain we made the decision to keep Brierley home with us, rather than away in New Jersey with dear friends who offered to take her for a week of fun with one of her BFFs at their fantastic summer camp. 

His surgeon, Dr. Douglas Dahl at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the leading surgeon in this region for this specific surgery. Because of the delicate nature of the location of the prostate and the possible side effects of a prostatectomy, the skill of the surgeon is paramount. I was able to obtain advice from a world-renowned minimally invasive genitourinary surgeon who I am acquainted with about where to take Jonathan and he told me that this is the only surgeon in the region who he would use for a prostatectomy.  He knows and understands the skill required and Jonathan's surgeon is the best in his opinion, so we feel blessed to be in Boston and able to select this highly skilled surgeon. 

We have been told that there are two approximately 1.5 cm areas of cancer, at least one of which is "bulging". But the MRI did not show anything more menacing, which was the wonderful news we had hoped for that allowed us to tell Brierley the optimistic truth that her Daddy will be fine but have to go through a long and difficult recovery. He will have a catheter for ten days and after it is removed he will still have to remain inactive and allow the surgery to heal properly. He will hate this, but I have many fun ideas about how to get him through this challenging period. He will not be able to go into work for possibly 8 weeks, but we are very hopeful that he will not have to wait this long at all.  As soon as he is able to work from home, he will do so. This will help him to feel like he is getting his life back. We have a very ugly, but delightfully comfortable, zero gravity outdoor lounge chair for me to move around the garden for him to relax and enjoy his plantings and the amazing patio he built since his diagnosis. He is pictured in the cover photo above finishing the project. What an amazing job he did! I am convinced that I could not have paid someone to do better work, it is gorgeous. And obviously, he feels well and is even physically strong.  Although this makes it difficult to go into surgery it is also very obviously a blessing to get such an early diagnosis to stop this cancer in its tracks. BAM!! 

How is it possible that this very humble and understated man who got the English equivalent of a perfect SAT score and 5's on all of the AP exams including English and German ... and played semi-pro rugby in France... also able to build a beautiful floating patio complete with plantings?? I have no idea!! But I do know that he is one of those people who are able to rise to every challenge and do so with an amazing vigor and style and that this cancer is a wimpy one which was caught very early! He's got this!!

The recovery from the surgery is going to be very difficult for this active and healthy-feeling dynamic man.  He will have to take it easy while the surgery does its magic and repairs the delicate tissues that must be reattached from either side of the removed prostate. We have been strongly cautioned that he must take this low activity period very seriously. He will be following his surgeon's advice.,please help me to help him to do so. I'm not sure when he will feel up to seeing people, but when he does I will let you know. Many people have offered their help should we need it, and I cannot thank you enough for such a kindness because it makes us feel so supported and cared for - it strengthens us so much. We think we will be fine, but I imagine that some support will be helpful and appreciated. If you feel like you want to bring him something, he is passionate about dark chocolate, with 60% cacao count or higher, and anything which combines dark chocolate and orange, single malt whiskey or wine (no idea when he'll be allowed to drink that but he plans to eschew opioids for Tylenol).  Also, Bakewell tarts, true English scones... love and attention...

While this is stressful, upsetting, and scary as heck, we do have the perspective to understand that this is a very treatable cancer and that it was caught very early and his prognosis for a cancer free long lifetime is excellent. We know many others are battling far more frightening cancers and we hold each of you so very much in our hearts and prayers.  We would also greatly appreciate prayers from any of you who feel so moved. We have so many dear friends and family we have not yet managed to tell about this diagnosis, please know we just hate telling people and it has been too difficult to tell you when we have seen you or to pick up the phone to tell you, we apologize for this. 

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