Bonded for Life: A Prostate Cancer Survivor Story

As a longtime news photographer with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley is no stranger to stress. “I’ve seen everything you can see—many times over. So when something is tough, I just put my head down and solve it,” he says.

That resolve would be tested when the 59-year-old’s annual blood test showed he had a high PSA level in October 2013.

“My doctor called me immediately and said, ‘Go have another blood test—now.’ So I did and the numbers came back the same—indicating signs of prostate cancer,” Paul remembers. “I don’t scare easily, but I was shook. You think you have this big distance ahead of you, and it could be really short.”

It was right before Thanksgiving, so Paul and his wife, Pixie, decide not to tell anyone until after the holidays, including his two daughters—one who was working in Manhattan and the other a college junior—in-laws, his brother or any of his Star-Telegram colleagues.

“It was a great Thanksgiving and a great Christmas because that was in the back of my mind. Of course, I’m “Mr. Paint the Worst Possible Picture” even though I say I’m not afraid. I’m a journalist. I’m the biggest preparer of all, and I started right then. I immediately contacted my attorney and made sure all the wills were done and all the bills were paid. I just got in my defense mode,” he says.

In January 2014, Paul saw Richard Bevan-Thomas, M.D., medical director at USMD Prostate Cancer Center.

“I was kind of in a fog, but he told me about all the options, and explained the biopsy process and all the things that lead to the diagnosis and charting how serious the cancer is. That guy is amazing—for a lot of different reasons. Men are men. We’re tough, but we’re a bunch of cowards, you know. Handling guys is kind of tricky sometimes. Some of us are real tough and some fall apart. He has to assess that in an instant.

“He wasn’t cocky—he was confident. ‘This is what we’re going to do. This is why we’re going to do it. These are the options you have and why each one might be good or bad.’ Just talking to him built my confidence.”

Paul also appreciated the way Dr. Bevan-Thomas talked to his wife.

“He was a totally different person with my wife. He was very gentle and caring. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to take care of him. This is going to work out.’ She needed to be handled with kid gloves and he did. She loves him.”

Paul was impressed by Dr. Bevan-Thomas’ support, too.

“I said, I don’t want to offend you, but I’d like to have a second opinion. Immediately he said, ‘Absolutely. If you want to go to MD Anderson, I know those people, I was down there. I’ll call them for you.’ He set that all up for me.”

Paul explored all of his treatment options at MD Anderson—surgery, radiation and proton therapy. Although he found the physicians and facilities impressive, he reached a decision when one of his meetings there took an unexpected turn.

“One of the doctors rolled his chair back and said, ‘I know Dr. Bevan-Thomas and unless you really want to move to Houston, I think you’re in great hands.’ That was good enough for me.”

Because his cancer was still encapsulated in the prostate with a few suspicious spots near the perimeter, Paul elected to have a robot-assisted radical laparoscopic prostatectomy. He had done his research about the daVinci surgical system used during the procedure, and thought it was the right treatment option for him.

“What Dr. B.T. told me about other processes actually helped me make my decision about surgery. He said, ‘I’ll be using a robot. It’s an amazing machine. If you have radiation or the seeds, what that does is kill tissue and make scar tissue. Later on if your cancer recurs and I have to take your prostate out, it will be harder because scar tissue is harder to cut. That area is delicate and demands so much precision because all of your sexual function and everything is right there.’ His explanation just made total sense to me.”

As it turned out, Paul was a good candidate for surgery because he had taken some proactive steps in his mid-fifties when his family doctor discovered he was pre-diabetic. “I had just gotten out of shape with work and swinging into McDonald’s and Starbucks,” he admits. “I was 220 pounds, so I really got on it and immediately lost 40 pounds. I started racing my bicycle again and getting fit.”  

On April 4, 2014, Paul went into surgery a trim 180 pounds. The procedure went smoothly and he was able to go home the next day. He is still amazed by his speedy recovery.

“The robotic incisions are small. They’re super glued shut. How easy is that? Afterward, I felt like I had just done too many sit ups.”

Paul admits he was a little surprised to see a tube coming out of his bladder. “Dr. B.T. explained he put the tube in so I didn’t need a catheter. I had that in for a week, came into the office one day, they pulled it out and I was back to my normal life within a week. The ease of recovery was just incredible. I couldn’t believe it. I had to stop myself from being too active because it was too easy.”

A few months after his surgery, Paul went out to Valley Ranch to photograph a Dallas Cowboys practice. “There was a daVinci robot in the commons area where press conferences are held. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, the daVinci.’ All these people turned to look at me. I’m in shorts and a T-shirt with all my cameras. They asked, ‘What do you know about that?’ I said, ‘That machine and my surgeon saved my life just a few months ago.’ They were all over me.”

More than a year after his surgery, Paul still feels incredibly fortunate and a little emotional.

“I feel pretty darn good. My PSA is zero. I ride my bike everyday a minimum of 25 miles, sometimes 40 to 45. Everything works just like before. It’s amazing. Now I know my choices were spot on, but I remember being on the other side, when the choices are in front of you. It was a profound experience for me.

“The mechanics of it—the surgery and the diagnosis and going through all that was one thing—but it’s the person, the doctor. You’re scared and you’re meeting a stranger. It’s different if you’re buying car parts, but this person is probably going to operate on you—probably save your life. It’s the greatest bonding experience of your life. I hate to apply to much hero status to him. I know Dr. B.T. probably fears it sometimes, but he’s just going to have to suffer through it. He is my hero.”

Paul and Pixie recently celebrated a very important milestone: one year cancer-free.

“We’ve been married almost 40 years. We have a dream life. We’re so happy and enjoy each other’s company, so we took a little weekend trip. I did everything I like. I rode my bike. I played Frisbee with my dog. I just had a great time with Dr. B.T. on my mind. He saved my life. It’s quite a gift. I’ll never take it for granted.”  

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would like to know more about your treatment options, please contact USMD Prostate Cancer Center online or at 1-888-PROSTATE (1-888-776-7828).

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