Ralph Puckett of Dacula, Georgia, learned he might have prostate cancer in December 2018, when a routine annual physical with his primary care physician (PCP) revealed an elevated PSA and an enlarged prostate.
He followed up with a urologist for a complete urological examination and biopsy of his prostate. One week later, Ralph and his wife, Gwyn, returned to the doctor for the results.
“My Gleason score was (7-plus),” Ralph said. “The doctor told us that I had malignant prostate cancer and that I had ‘time but do not waste your time.’”
“My reaction to my diagnosis was very calm.”
Although Ralph’s mother had breast cancer, there was no history of prostate cancer in his family.
Ralph and Gwyn later called their two adult daughters to let them know about his diagnosis. He said both told him they can “do this together.”
Ralph also made a call to a long-time friend, an oncologist, who gave him “the good, bad and ugly of the eight options of treatment” and provided some online resources.
“Gwyn and I had a very sharp learning curve and, over the last month or so, weighed our options.”
They made appointments with health care providers for proton therapy, radical prostatectomy and seeds with external radiation.
“I had the awesome opportunity of speaking to 18 men who had received various treatment options. Gwyn had the privilege to speak to four wives and what their experiences had been living with a husband with prostate cancer,” said Ralph.
“After considerable deliberation with Gwyn and our daughters, and deep prayer, I decided on the radical prostatectomy.”
Ralph is thankful for everyone at Northside who “gave their all” to him and Gwyn and made them feel at home in the hospital — from the admissions, pre-op and OR teams to the Extended Recovery Unit staff and transport volunteers.
“The level of professionalism and tender loving care was over the top,” said Ralph. “Everyone went the extra mile.”
Ralph credits his wife as his greatest cheerleader. “From diagnosis, through surgery, post-op, and beyond, she has led the charge to keep me up physically and spiritually.”
“Our two daughters, their husbands, and our four grandchildren have loved me through the ups and downs. My two employers were so supportive and flexible with my work schedule. My customers were and have been very supportive throughout.”
Post-surgery, Ralph was able to return to work full-time within two weeks and he says the impact on his personal life has been minimal.
“I was so blessed to be able to go on vacation with my family eight days post-op (with Dr. Oberle’s permission, of course).”
“Besides being 71, my health today is great,” Ralph added. “I go to see my PCP once a year for a routine physical, my cardiologist once a year, and Dr. Oberle every six months for testosterone and PSA levels evaluation.”
These days, Ralph says he enjoys having “fun” — golf, tennis, pickleball, yardwork, playing with his grandchildren, volunteering, and vacations at the beach with his family.
* The health story shared here may portray atypical results of survival for this type of cancer, given its severity and stage. Atypical results are considered surviving a cancer that has less than a 50% five-year survival rate. Patients should consult an expert to discuss specific treatment plans and the possible outcomes before making medical decisions.