Prostate cancer recurrence – Keeping the faith

In 1994-5, my PSA ranged from 3.0-5.0, never changing very much. A biopsy in 1994 was negative. But since I was a research scientist at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, I reasoned that since my prostate gland was not enlarged, I was generating a fairly higher level of PSA than should be expected. Therefore, a second biopsy in October, 1995 revealed cancer.

Since Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is acknowledged as one of the nation’s best urology departments, I had a radical prostatectomy in December, 1995 at the age of 55. All went well; no metastases; clear margins and lymph nodes and Gleason score of 6. Incontinence and impotence soon resolved themselves adequately. My surgeon told me that they rarely see cases caught that early and they were confident of a cure.

My PSA was undetectable for the ensuing seven years until 2002 when I experienced a biochemical recurrence. I was given a course of radiation therapy which did not totally remove the cancer as my PSA was reduced to 0.2 ng/mL.

I am a Christian with a personal faith in God through Jesus Christ. My wife and I both believe that the Bible instructs us in James 5:14-15 to be anointed with oil and prayed for by the elders of our church. I had planned to be anointed in the near future. On Sunday, Jan. 11th, 2004, I sat in my church in an angry mood due to the recurrent cancer. Thoughts of the Lord were the farthest from my mind. Why had it recurred after such a promising initial surgery? But God began to tell me to be anointed that day. I reluctantly obeyed.

While 3-4 of the church leaders were praying over me, I felt as if water was cascading over me and Jesus spoke directly to my spirit as I had never experienced before. He said “reach out and touch the hem of my garment.” I symbolically did this and then He said, “Just as I told people to ‘go and show themselves to the priests’, I want you to go and show yourself to physicians especially at Johns Hopkins.” I had never experienced God in such a powerful, personal way. Therefore, in light of my own scientific background, God seemingly gave me a mission to medical professionals among others.

Sometime later, I had a similar experience when I was shoveling snow in my driveway. I was again frustrated as the snow was blowing back faster than I could shovel it. In the midst of this anger and frustration, Jesus spoke to me again citing the words to a familiar hymn, “tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise, just to know ‘thus saith the Lord.’”

I was stunned and tears of worship and joy were cascading down my face. God had given me a mission and a mandate. Meanwhile my surgeon at Johns Hopkins had suggested strongly that I write a book about spiritual aspects of prostate cancer. Sometime later, the Lord told me instead to launch a website dealing with spiritual and medical prostate cancer issues especially since my life work had involved developing drugs against viruses and cancer. This website entitled was launched in November, 2010 and currently has 32,000 hits as of February, 2012.

In the meantime, I remained asymptomatic but starting in early 2006, my PSA began to double within 3-4 months which was indicative of aggressive cancer.

I started androgen deprivation (hormone) therapy in mid-2006 and have been on this treatment intermittently since then. Without any therapy, my PSA remains undetectable (0.01-0.02 ng/mL) for 10 months or so. When the PSA starts to rise, I receive Lupron every four months for about 8-12 months.

The intermittent therapy has been working from 2006 until today in 2012. I have few if any side effects of the therapy but I monitor my weight, bone density, cardiovascular and metabolic systems carefully. With the advent of new therapies such as Provenge (Sipuleucel-T), abiraterone (Zytiga), and others in the clinical pipeline, my oncologist is quite optimistic that I can outlive my prostate cancer now that I am 70 years of age.

Meanwhile, I remain very active and asymptomatic, my bone scans are negative and I share my faith and trust in Christ and God the Father as well as pertinent medical information on my website.

I married for the first time in 2000 having been blessed with a very supportive and praying wife. As to the reason God allowed my cancer to recur after speaking so clearly to me, the story of Jesus and the man born blind from birth serves as an explanation (see John 9:1-3). When the Pharisees brought this blind young man to Jesus, they asked why he had been born blind? Was it because of his own personal sin or that of his parents? Jesus said, “neither; that the glory of God might be manifested in him”.

So while I am not biochemically “healed”, God is maintaining my situation better than I could have ever hoped for. As God said in 2 Cor. 12:9 to the apostle Paul who had prayed that his physical “thorn” be removed, “my grace is sufficient for you.” And it truly is!

Dr. Bjarne Gabrielsen
Punta Gorda, FL

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