Terry Wickware

content-first-person-terry-wickwareTyler man fights back prostate cancer

Terry Wickware never thought he would hear the words, “You have cancer.” Wickware, 65, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013. “I was so scared when the doctor told me I had cancer,” said Wickware. “Both of my parents had cancer and my brother. I just never had anything like that happen to me.”

His prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, was 4.9. PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. Generally, the higher the number, the greater chance you have prostate cancer.

Wickware opted for intensity-modulated radiation therapy or IMRT. He came daily to the ETMC Cancer Institute for his 40 treatments.

“Prayer and faith got me through my treatments,” recalled Wickware. “I prayed every day for strength. I also kept my mind focused and stayed busy. You just do what they tell you to do and you will get through it.”

Wickware attended Emmett Scott High School in Tyler in the 1960s and most recently was a truck driver. He enjoys fishing and keeping active to stay healthy.

Wickware’s PSA has dropped to 0.849 and he has a great outlook on life. “I just hope that one day doctors will find a cure for cancer.”

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of death among American men and is the most commonly diagnosed. The American Cancer Society estimates that 180,890 men will be told they have prostate cancer in 2016.

Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate, which is located below the bladder, grow uncontrollably.

Men usually experience no symptoms in early prostate cancer, but as the disease advances symptoms include weak or interrupted urine flow, inability to urinate or difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow, the need to urinate frequently, blood in the urine or pain or burning with urination.

Several factors can affect a man’s risk for getting prostate cancer.

  • Age – Prostate cancer cases rise after age 50 with about 6 in 10 cases found in men older than 65.
  • Race/ethnicity – Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men.
  • Family history – Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, while some occur with no family history.

Should you be screened?

The American Cancer Society recommends getting regular screening tests before you have symptoms.

“Some people may need to have a screening earlier than the guidelines depending on your family history of cancer,” said Jeffrey Gilroy, MD, radiation oncologist and medical director of the ETMC Cancer Institute. “It’s best to visit with your physician during your annual checkup about what screenings are right for you.”

Prostate cancer can be found with a test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. Another test is the digital rectal exam. If the results are abnormal, further testing can be done to confirm a cancer diagnosis.

“Early detection, to find cancer when it is still treatable, is the best hope for saving lives,” said Dr. Gilroy.

Treatment options

A number of new treatment options have emerged for prostate diseases, including new medications and refined surgical techniques. The options vary depending on age, stage and grade of cancer, as well as other medical conditions. Surgery, radiation or radioactive seed implants may be used to treat early stage disease.

Cyberknife at ETMC is now offered in four treatments versus 40 treatments with conventional IMRT (Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy). Careful observation can be one option for men with less aggressive tumors or older men.

Go to the ETMC Cancer Institute page.