Frederick and Donna Ciecierski faced struggles together
My ordeal began on Sept. 22, 2011, with routine bloodwork for a prostate-specific antigen test. The PSA result showed elevated levels, but my doctor said that can happen sometimes depending on certain circumstances, so he would do the test again in a couple of months.
At the end of December, I had another appointment with him and he informed me my numbers were still elevated. He recommended seeing a urologist. I did so on Jan. 27, 2012. After reading my PSA numbers, the urologist gave me pills to try and bring my count down.
I met with him again on Feb. 24, 2012, when he informed me my numbers went higher and he was 85 percent sure it was prostate cancer. He gave me another medicine to take for 30 days before scheduling a March 27, 2012 biopsy. I also received pamphlets to read about different options.
On March 30, 2012, his nurse called me and said three of the eight biopsy samples tested positive for cancer. That day happened to be the same day my wife had her breast cancer appointment in Hershey and, being a three-year survivor, was graduated to a once-a-year mammogram instead of twice a year. Both of our emotions ran the gamut that day.
I discussed the different options that I read about with my wife, friends who were diagnosed and friends of friends who went through different procedures. At my April 3, 2012 appointment, the doctor talked to me more about the options and answered my questions. He said since no tumor was found, I was still in stage one of prostate cancer. Since my cancer was the moderately aggressive type, he highly recommended some form of treatment. I chose radiation.
On April 11, 2012, I met with Dr. Rogers, who explained the radiation procedure and recommended daily treatment for 45 days. Because different procedures needed to be done before proceeding, my first radiation treatment started on May 29, 2012. I scheduled my appointments for 1:30 p.m. so I was able to leave my work for half an hour, then return to complete my day. All went well and my last treatment was Aug. 2, 2012.
I had some routine side effects but felt blessed that it was nothing worse.
I did have a scare when my follow-up PSA test on Sept. 5, 2012 showed my numbers being higher than they were before my treatments. Dr. Rogers ordered a full body and bone scan to to make sure the cancer didn’t spread. The doctor called me at work to tell me the scan was clear and recommended I follow up with my urologist, who said the PSA count sometimes can take up to six months to come down after treatments. I saw him again on April 12, 2013, and he was pleased to tell me my numbers came down substantially and he would see me in a year. This year, on May 22, he was again very pleased that my numbers were still coming down.
With both my wife and I being diagnosed within three years, I, like her, am thankful and feel blessed that my cancer wasn’t any worse than it was. Even though the time span for my wife’s diagnosis and surgery was only two months with 35 days of radiation treatment to follow, and my time span was a year, including 45 days of radiation, I still encourage anyone with even questionable test results to be patient and follow through with whatever the doctors recommend.
I have retired and now volunteer my time driving disabled veterans to their appointments at the Lebanon Valley, Camp Hill, State College and Altoona hospitals or clinics.
This year will be the second year Ciecierski has attended the Mifflin-Juniata Relay For Life. He enjoys spending time with his fellow survivors and community and said it has helped him connect with others who understand his situation. Ciecierski lives in Lewistown with his wife, Donna, whose survivor story is featured in today’s edition as well.