11/23/2012 7:32 PM
By: Nicole Sorce
"With everybody, regardless of their age, it's always a shock to hear someone say they have cancer," said Grady Whittenburg, Voice of the Binghamton Senators, "and this was no exception."
It all started when Terrance Buczkowski, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at the Binghamton Senators, was trying to convince his 82 year-old mother to go get a checkup as she began to encounter some medical issues.
"And she said, 'Terrance, when was the last time you went to the doctor and got checked up?' And it had been 12 or 15 years," Buczkowski recalled. "So I said, 'Fine, I'll go if you go.'"
So he went to his physician for a general checkup, who told him that everything looked good, except that his prostate-specific antigen level, or PSA, was high. According to cancer.gov, the PSA test measures the blood level of a protein that the prostate gland produces. The higher the number, the more likely it is that a man has prostate cancer. However, cancer isn't the only cause of an elevated PSA reading.
"He said that there are lots of reasons that can happen," Buczkowski said, "so he asked me to come back in three months."
When he went back to his general practitioner in April, Buczkowski's PSA reading was still high. He was then sent to a urologist who found more of the same. On July 3, a biopsy revealed that Buczkowski had progressive prostate cancer.
"A lot of people ask, 'Did you ever say, "why me?"' But I didn't," Buczkowski said. "I remember one morning in the shower and the thought came into my mind, and I said, 'No, I'm not going to even think that way.' So I didn't think that way, but one thing I did do from day one was shared everything with everyone."
Buczkowski's coworker Kate Krenzer, Director of Media Relations, doesn't remember much from the day she received the news of his diagnosis other than feelings of shock and worry.
"I remember crying and hugging him," Krenzer recalled. "He had a good attitude and said that he would beat it."
With a Gleason score of 7/10 (an evaluation of a man's prostate cancer diagnosis), doctors advised Buczkowski to explore his options and figure out which road to recovery he wanted to take.
"There are lots of different things you can do - you can have surgery… you can have it removed…. you can wait and see…" Buczkowski explained. "After a long, very very detailed check-in and everything, I decided to go out of town, and I went to Rochester to have surgery on September 11."
Buczkowski underwent Da Vinci surgery to remove the cancerous tumors from his prostate at Strong Memorial Hospital with Dr. Jean Joseph, the pioneer of the Da Vinci system, in Rochester, N.Y.
"Fantastic experience up there," Buczkowski stated. "I went in on a Monday morning, had surgery that afternoon, and was released from the hospital at about noon the next day.”
Buczkowski's recovery lasted about six weeks, but 10 days after his surgery, he received some good news.
"They told me that the pathology reports came back and that all the margins were negative, which means all the cancer was contained within the prostate. Also, all the nerve endings and lymph nodes that they took all came back negative," Buczkowski said. "In a nutshell, I'm the closest thing to being cured 100% as I possibly could be."
Now, Buczkowski just has to return to his doctor every three months for a PSA test until September 2013, every six months through 2014, and then once a year after that. Something the PSA tests won't be able to determine is how valuable of a learning experience having prostate cancer has shown to be.
"I sure did learn a hell of a lot about myself, and I proved who I was to myself," Buczkowski said. "I knew who I was inside, and it absolutely came out. The learning experience has been phenomenal, to learn about the disease in general and to learn about myself and my family."
"It's inspiring to see where this journey started and the action he took to beat the cancer," Whittenburg said. "His choice in a fairly new procedure for treating prostate cancer, along with his strong faith in God, has put him back in control of his health."
Buczkowski's experience has also spurred a new mission in his life, especially as the B-Sens participate in this month's Movember movement to raise awareness about men's health issues.
"I want to make certain that there's not a day that goes by that I don't talk about prostate cancer to someone," Buczkowski said. "I've got a vested interest in it, and it's become my story."
Thanks to Buczkowski's desire to help those facing situations that may or may not be cancer, he has received confirmation that his words have inspired other men to be proactive when it comes to their health and condition of their prostates.
"There have been countless guys that say, 'Now I know what my PSA is,' or 'I've gone for the test,' and they've told me they only went because of what I did or what I said," Buczkowski said.
"There's a lot of help and a lot of information that was shared with me along the way, and I only hope that I can share my story and maybe help someone else and impact their life in a positive way."