Since 2011, Howard Maharaj had an elevated PSA score but was reluctant to go to a doctor to have his prostate checked. “I was in denial, said Howard.” It wasn’t until 5 years later in January of 2016 while experiencing frequent urination that woke him 2 –3 times a night, he decided it was finally time to see a Urologist.”
“When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I thought my world was coming to an end. I spoke with many men about their prostate cancer treatments and 95% told me that they had bad experiences with open surgery (prostatectomy) or standard radiation and many felt very sick from their treatments.” Those who elected surgery had long recuperations and some experienced side effects including frequent urination and ED, erectile dysfunction.
Men who chose standard radiation had 42 treatments over several months and were feeling so tired that they were unable to enjoy a quality of life. “I knew that neither of these treatment options were for me, said Howard. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
In Trinidad Tobago, West Indies where Howard resides, there are limited treatment options available for prostate cancer even though they have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the Caribbean. Howard knew that he needed to search outside of the Caribbean and went to Canada where he once lived in search of newer treatments. “Again, the only treatments I heard about were surgery and standard radiation. It wasn’t until I spoke with my cousin in New Jersey that I learned about CyberKnife Radiation Therapy and it sounded very interesting. No one ever told me about CyberKnife.”
CyberKnife, also known as SBRT (Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy) is the most advanced radiosurgery technique available for treating prostate cancer. It is non-invasive and reduces the risk of side effects that can result from traditional treatments such as surgery and standard radiation.
With CyberKnife Therapy you typically undergo 5 treatments over about 10 days, compared to 42 treatments over several months with standard radiation. It dissipates tumors with pinpoint accuracy and is less likely to harm surrounding healthy tissue. There’s no cutting, incision, blood, anesthesia, pain, and no recovery time.
Data from a recent study on CyberKnife treatment for low-risk prostate cancer showed of the 230 men who participated in the study, 98.4 percent had local disease control 10 years after receiving SBRT.
After learning about CyberKnife, Howard knew this was the treatment he would be most comfortable with.
He researched the internet to find the closest CyberKnife location to Trinidad and found CyberKnife Center of Miami. “I immediately went to their website to learn more and I read and watched the wonderful patient success stories. I was convinced this is where I needed to go for my treatment”.
“I called the Center and spoke with Maria who had me send my records to see if I was a candidate for CyberKnife and indeed I was! Maria made all of my travel plans, including booking a hotel within walking distance of the Center. Maria was wonderful, she is a very caring person and made me feel very comfortable.”
Just 1 month later, on December 11, 2016 Howard began a series of 5 treatments, 1 treatment every other day, under the care of Dr. Mark Pomper, Radiation Oncologist & Medical Director at CyberKnife Miami.
“Howard was an excellent candidate for CyberKnife says Dr. Pomper. He was in good health and while his PSA levels continued to rise, his MRI and bone scan showed that the tumor was localized to his prostate so we weren’t worried that the cancer had spread to other areas. The procedure went very smoothly, and he tolerated it well enough that he was able to go about his life and enjoy Miami.”
Howard’s treatments were completed within 10 days, the only side effect was a little constipation which didn’t last very long and some fatigue. “I felt nothing during the treatment, in fact I rested, listened to music and found it relaxing.” He felt so good throughout his treatments that he was able walk to and from treatments, enjoy a few beers with friends after a treatment and enjoy some sightseeing around Miami. Just three weeks after completing his treatments, he already felt better and stronger and no longer woke up during the night to urinate.
Howard says that the team at CyberKnife Miami was so accommodating. “Dr. Pomper is very compassionate, he explained everything very professionally and he addressed my fears because I was very nervous.” Howard even referred to Dr. Pomper as an “Ambassador” who should be commended! He also worked with Mario Tobon, a Radiation Therapist at CyberKnife Miami who helped him through his treatments and says he’s a fine gentleman who should be commended for his clever personality. “When you’re a medical patient you need upbeat people around you to keep your spirits high and feel comfortable while being treated, says Howard.”
Two months after the CyberKnife treatment Howard went for another PSA test and the results showed his levels dropped to 1.1 ensuring that the treatment was successful! “I was so excited about the news and my new healthy life that I called everyone! When I was first diagnosed with cancer I felt a sense of emptiness worrying whether or not I would beat this and was so concerned that my life could be coming to an end. Now I’m on top of the world, my PSA levels went from 15.1 down to 1.1, it doesn’t get much better than that!”