Rodney Young Says TxDot and Dr. Justin Lee Saved His Life

Rodney Young had never had a PSA test until his employer, the Texas Department of Transportation, offered its team members biometric screenings in December 2015.

“I’m a maintenance supervisor for the Childress district, so I encouraged everybody on my crew to take advantage of it,” he says. “We’re a pretty tight group so when our results came back, we were comparing notes and giving each other a hard time. The last thing on the biometric screening was our PSA level. Of course, everybody in the room had a zero reading, except for me—mine level was 10.9.”

It was Rodney’s first PSA test.

“I didn’t even know what a PSA test was before this—I’d never heard of it,” the now 51-year-old admits. “Of course, being a man, I procrastinated for several months before I followed up on it. I thought it was just a bad reading, a fluke.”

Six months later, Rodney finally went to his family doctor for his annual physical.

“He did everything except for a PSA test, so I asked him about it. He told me, “You’re in good health. At your age, it’s not recommended.”

Rodney told him about his PSA screening through work, and his doctor relented.

“Of course, my first test wasn’t a fluke. My level came back high again,” Rodney says.

After two additional PSA tests confirmed the results, Rodney was referred to Dr. M.G. Zackhary, a urologist in Childress, for a biopsy. On June 27, 2016, Rodney learned he had prostate cancer. With cancer detected in eight of his 12 cores, it was classified as a Gleason 7.
“I was in shock,” he remembers. “My grandfather had been diagnosed with prostate cancer at 65 or 70, so I had a family history, but it still just didn’t seem real. I had to convince myself that if I didn’t take care of it, my life would be short.”

Dr. Zackhary referred Rodney to Dr. Justin Lee at USMD Prostate Cancer Center, and Dr. Lee confirmed his diagnosis.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better person,” Rodney explains. “The way he presented himself; the care and concern he showed us even during our initial meeting. He explained all my treatment options and the risks to me and my wife, Janet. At the end of our meeting, he told us to go home and think about it. In the end, I chose robot-assisted prostatectomy because I didn’t want to risk that my cancer might come back in 10 or 15 years and possibly be even more aggressive.”

Dr. Lee performed Rodney’s robot-assisted radical prostatectomy on August 21, 2016.

“In life, we all have dates that we remember—birthdays, anniversaries, the loss of loved ones, I’ve added this one to my list of dates to remember,” he adds.
Fortunately, it is a date that Rodney can celebrate because it was the day Dr. Lee removed his cancer. After his surgery, the pathology report on Rodney’s removed prostate revealed that his cancer was actually a Gleason 9—an aggressive cancer.

“Luckily, for me it was still contained in my prostate,” Rodney notes. “Dr. Lee said 25 percent of my right lobe was already eaten up, and 35 percent of my left lobe was cancerous. He said if I’d waited five more years, the cancer most likely would have spread beyond my prostate to other organs.”

Rodney was thrilled when his first post-surgery follow-up PSA came back .000025.

“I am so grateful to Dr. Lee and the staff at USMD for saving my life,” he says. “I was so impressed with everyone—including Brenda May, who guided me through everything. Whenever I had questions, she was the person I called. All the nursing staff was great, too. They brought a sense of relief just by the way they presented themselves and the way they answered questions.”

Rodney’s experience has galvanized a desire to help greater awareness about prostate cancer among other men.

“It floors me when I read about organizations that don’t think a PSA test is necessary,” he admits. “Why wouldn’t you have a PSA test? Without it, my lifespan would probably have been drastically shortened.”

Speaking at safety summits and health fairs, Rodney is sharing his message with the TxDot’s nearly 12,000 employees.

“I encourage men to take advantage of the life-saving biometric screenings offered by TxDot. Not only is the screening free, it gives men a baseline PSA. Last year only 37 percent of the TxDot employees participated in the biometric screenings, I’m hoping we can make it 100 percent.”
Rodney also wrote an article for TxDot’s employee magazine, and has been asked to speak at more events.  

“Everyplace I’ve talked, I have about 10 to 15 guys pull me aside afterward with questions. I’ve had seven men with prostate cancer approach me wanting to know about healing time and side effects.”

Rodney doesn’t hesitate to share his experience, including his healing process.

“I’ve been real fortunate,” he says. “I had a month of healing time, and then went back to all my normal activities. I haven’t had any leakage, although I probably urinate more than I ever have before. I’m still at the stage where I can’t get an erection, but all that’s minor compare to dying. I take a Cialis every other day, and I think right now it’s jus a timing thing and will improve over time. At this stage of my life, though, it’s not as important as living.”

Rodney’s wife, Janet agrees. “Just as long as he is healthy and here with me, that’s all that matters. I just want to keep him here. I’m glad Rodney chose surgery.”

And for men procrastinate about their health—including prostate cancer screening—Rodney has this advice: “Think about what their wives’ and kids’ lives will be like without them. A little ol’ test can have a life-changing affect, and without it you could shorten your time with your family. So my advice to you is SAVE A LIFE, get tested! And if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, get in there and see what your options are.”

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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