‘I’m more appreciative of my life’
As a maintenance technician, Tim Lemon knows how important it is to have the right tools available to properly fix something.
The prostate cancer survivor learned that principle applies in medicine, too.
Diagnosed in March 2015, Lemon took part in the brand new URO-NAV technology last spring, which allows Spectrum Health doctors to view prostate cancer lesions on a monitor and zero in on precise areas for biopsy samples.
Before this new technology, doctors could only take samples in the general vicinity of the cancer, not knowing exactly where they were targeting.
Prior to the URO-NAV results, Lemon, now 47, had been content with “advance monitoring.”
But by targeting specific areas of the lesions with a probe, Spectrum Health Medical Group urologist Christopher Brede, MD, was able to obtain target biopsy samples that showed growing cancer.
The precision helped Lemon and his medical team make the best decision possible—to remove his prostate.
When Lemon consulted with Spectrum Health Medical Group urologist Brian Lane, MD, it became clear simply monitoring the cancer was no longer the best option.
“When we did the URO-NAV, we were able to see where the cancer was,” Lemon said. “The size was a bit larger than what the MRI had shown. The blood test we did showed that my numbers had gone up as far as the growth rate of the cancer. With the numbers jumping and seeing exactly where the cancer was on the URO-NAV biopsy, Dr. Lane said we were probably moving toward treatment.”
Instead of waiting, wondering and worrying as he had done with advanced monitoring, Lemon underwent prostate removal surgery June 30.
“We just removed everything,” Lemon said. “He used our DaVinci robot system. They carefully cut the prostate away from the nerves around that region. Everything was still contained in the prostate. Nothing had gotten out. All the lab tests came back negative.”
“I was diagnosed 100 percent cancer-free,” Lemon said.
He said the new technology and its findings helped him feel more confident in his decision to remove his prostate, a walnut-sized gland situated between the bladder and the penis, just in front of the rectum.
“Being able to have a good idea of what was going on and being able to see exactly where the cancer was made it an easier decision,” Lemon said. “It was better to know exactly. We caught it when I was only 46, so we kind of watched it for a year. Dr. Lane and his group were able to get a more clear picture with the URO-NAV. That helped me to have a clear picture.”
Lemon returned to work on a limited basis three weeks after surgery and three weeks after that, full-time with no restrictions. He’s back to camping with his wife and two sons, biking and playing outdoors.
“I think it’s been a very good journey for me,” Lemon said. “I hope this information helps other guys. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I feel a lot better. I feel very grateful and very blessed to know that my doctors caught it early.”
Lemon said as much as he hated to lose his prostate, the surgery only consisted of six small incisions, which are healing nicely.
“During that 14 or 16 months of monitoring, I didn’t know if it was going to spread somewhere,” Lemon said. “It felt really good to get that call from Dr. Lane and hear him say, ‘We got it all and you’re 100 percent cancer-free.’”
Lemon is doing great and no further treatment is needed or planned, Dr. Lane said.
“The URO-NAV gave us comfort that we could safely perform a bilateral nerve-sparing operation, since his MRI-identified cancer was in the middle of the prostate gland,” Dr. Lane said. “For patients like Tim with localized prostate cancer that is treated with surgery, cancer-specific survival exceeds 98 percent at 15 years.”
Not only is Lemon’s health improved, his outlook is, too.
“I’m more appreciative of my life,” he said. “And of my family. Every day that I’m blessed to be here is a good day.”