Posted by: Ken Wheatley | August 21, 2009

Ken’s Biopsy Results

Dr. Tran called late this afternoon as we were driving home from Sheila’s radiation treatment and not surprisingly, the news isn’t good. Although the negative results seemed preordained in my mind, I still held out a small percentage of hope that I would receive good news.

Out of the 12 samples he took on Wednesday, the pathology lab found 5 of them to be cancerous. The cancer seems to be grouped on the left side of the prostate. However, the concerning part for Dr. T is that the 5 samples have a Gleason score of 7.

According to WebMD, prostate cancer is graded using the Gleason score, on a scale of 2 to 10. It’s used in predicting how aggressive a tumor will be. The higher the score, the more likely the tumor is to grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body.

Prostate cancer cells are either well differentiated (defined), moderately differentiated, or poorly differentiated. That indicates how different they are from normal cells. A well differentiated cell has very clear boundaries. A poorly differentiated cell has less clearly defined boundaries and they grow and spread rapidly.

So my score of 7 means that my cells are moderately differentiated. An 8 to 10 would be poorly differentiated.

At this point he’s telling me that they won’t be able to tell if it’s spread to my lymph nodes until they do surgery.

So we have a lot to research, discuss, and contemplate.

If this had happened three years ago, the path would be clear. But that’s not the case. I can’t envision being out of commission and unable to fully be with and care for Sheila. If Dr. B is right, Sheila only has a few months and at this point I can’t conceive of not being available and spending as much quality time with her as possible. She’s been so sick this week due to the radiation. She can’t keep food down. She’s weak. She sleeps a lot.

If I’m in the hospital for three to four days and then recovering for possibly months, a lot can, and based on our history the past few months, probably will happen with Sheila, and it would crush me to not be there for and with her. This is not about being heroic or being able to get support and help from family and friends. They have all be more than generous with their time, love, and affection.

There are just things that only a husband or wife, or a life partner can provide. A touch that can be recognized and responded to with closed eyes. Holding each other through the night. Whispering certain private things that might bring a smile or temporary relief during a particularly bad time. I need to get those things from Sheila as much as providing them to her.

Anyone who’s been around us for more than 5 minutes can see how physically close and in love we are. I miss her a lot when we’re not together. What we’ve been going through for the past 20 months has been hard enough. To make a conscious decision to not be there for her and with her, even for the betterment of my health, is not in my nature.

I realize the risk that waiting puts me in, and I have a sweet and beautiful daughter to consider as well. So deciding what to do is a very tough, tough decision.

With all that has befallen our personal lives in a relatively short period, we can’t help but feel cursed. And bitter. And angry. And very sad. Sheila was so devastated when I told her what Dr. T said, as if she needs anything else to deal with. This is all so fucked.

So Sheila and I will read and talk. Dr. T is on vacation for a week, so we’ll meet with him when he gets back.



  1. I’m glad the nurses were shamed into producing a bed for you.
    Both of you should go there… NOW!
    Take turns, a week or so apart, one caring for the other.
    Call me for names/details.
    (A cousin who has seen the results. It’s not experimental anymore.)

  2. if only i can bottle the love you two have for each other…………..
    one bottle needs to be open …and the contents will test you some more……that is of wisdom and more patience.

    fight this fucked demon called cancer.

    i am sorry for your pain….

    love, mo

  3. Ken,
    I was actully looking to ask if I could use you as a reference; I’m going for a job supporting San Diego’s ARJIS system.

    And then I found this horrible news.

    I’m sending my best most powerful healing thoughts your way, and if there is anythng I can do for you or Sheila. please, just ask.

  4. What can I say, I guess we all expected the worse, but damn. I wish there was something I could say or do to ease your pain. My prayers will continue. Please stay strong and take care of yourself and Sheila.

    Remember the footprints we leave…

    Love, Kim

  5. Please know we are thinking about you and Sheila.


    Christi & Allen

  6. Ken, can you hire someone to stay with you both in your home so you can get the treatments you need too? Both my dad and my father-in-law had prostate cancer, and the treatments went just fine and it didn’t affect their health after it was zapped. Wish I could be there to help out. Please tell Sheila hello. I just started a new job and can’t get out of Maryland for a week or so. If she feels strong and wants to call anytime I would love to hear her voice. All our love, Robin and Bob

  7. Ken,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your news. I met Sheila about one year ago at a Moores Cancer Center support group. She was one if the first people I met after my own diagnosis of lung cancer. She was so sweet and helpful, I’ll never forget how comfortable she made me feel about this horrible disease. My love goes out to you both. Please tell Sheila I say hello.


  8. My Prayers are with you and Sheila!

    Love you

    Gaynell & Richard White

  9. Hi Ken,

    I had lunch with Gaynell today, and i asked her how you and your wife were doing.
    She stated that your wife was not doing well and that she is a strong individual.

    So, she passed your website on to me, and i read that you were told some bad news about your health.
    All i could say was WOW! How much more can an individual take!

    You definitely have the strength of steel with your decision to forgo your surgery to be with your lovely wife.
    I know it was a tough decision, but the love that you have for your wife will carry you through.

    May the heavens above stay with you, and give you strength through your difficult journey..


  10. Hello Ken:

    I don’t know if you remember me from the old workplace in the 1980’s. I just heard of your wife’s passing and I am writing to offer my condolences, thoughts and prayers to you and your family during this difficult time. May God grant you the strength to endure the loss of your beloved Sheila. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!!! JOSEPHINE ROMERO

  11. Ken,
    Just learned recently of all you have been through these past months…Even though I haven’t lost my soulmate, losing my Father to cancer (several types) was a hard journey. Your comfort for now is to know you loved truly – for better or worse – Time does heal these emotional wounds but great memories will always leave you with comfort in knowing you went beyond everything you could possibly do…Please take good care of yourself…
    If you ever would like to stop by for a simple home dinner, on your way home, please contact me – John and I would enjoy your company – A Sony Friend, xx Linda J.

  12. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for the note. My surgery is next Monday, so once that is all past me, I’ll take you up on your offer.

    Have a good Thanksgiving.

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