Hi, my name is John Richard. I am 63 years of age. I have worked all my life in the shipbuilding/repair industry. I was fortunate to retire by compulsory means in new-build ships for the Royal Navy of about 5 years which meant the section I worked in had little or no work for that period. My main hobby during my working life was DIY and buying and selling property which I had renovated. Prior to retirement my younger brothers and I had owned four properties, three of which we rented to tenants. After retirement, my last project was a lovely cottage built circa 1750 which was in a six years to totally dilapidated state. My brother and I took about six years to rebuild, adding a two-storey extention and building a very large “barn like” double and a half garage complex which was sympathetically built to reflect the age of the original cottage. I have been married to my Thai wife for ten years- been together for thirteen and she has two boys age twenty two and eighteen. I have lived full time in Thailand for seven years and we farm cassava from 122 rai of land presently. (122 rai~50 acres)
Introduction of the disease history
I had a hip replacement carried out in February 2017. After my recovery period, my sexual drive, my libido had diminished rather dramatically and when I was aroused, I noticed that my erections were not quite as substantial as previously experienced. I naturally put it down to the hip operation and the fact that at sixty two I was starting to “slow down” sexually. In September last year I had to go to the U.K. to arrange to have my personal effects our cot shipped out to Thailand as we had put our cottage up for sale after the last tenants had left. Whilst in the U.K. , I looked up old friends and had meals and drinks together. One of my best friends, who looked after my interests in the U.K. whilst I was in Thailand, was telling me about a “well man clinic” he had attended at his G.P. surgery. I thought to myself that at age 62, his would be a good idea for me also. So I arranged through my local G.P. surgery to have a blood test at the hospital. This was carried out and I received a letter from my G.P. asking me to attend an appointment with him. The results of the blood test showed everything i.e. liver, kidney, thyroid, bone and blood sugar, cholesterol etc. etc. were all normal except my PSA reading. Normal 0-4, my reading was 4. 463. He explained to me this could indicate a problem and so he examined me internally through the rectum to feel my prostate. After what I found was uncomfortable examination. He explained I had an enlarged prostate but could not find any lumps or irregularities about it. I discussed what the next step. He suggested another PSA test 8 weeks away, I explained that I would return to Thailand by then and that way not possible. I said that I would have another test in the hospital where I had my hip replacement. As I was leaving the country it would no longer his obligation to help me so I thanked him for his time and left. Eight weeks after my previous blood test I visited the hospital and had another PSA test. I saw a urologist and showed him my test results from the UK. The test I had in Thailand showed my PSA had gone down to 4.34 and it was decided that I should return in six months for another test. In May this year, I had another test and my PSA had increased to 10.85! As the test results were given over the phone at home and not in the hospital he told my wife I should make an appointment to see him soon. My immediate reaction was that I was stunned. My wife asked what it could be and I tried to explain what the implications could be. The hospital I had my hip-operation and my PSA blood tests was an excellent hospital but I decided to go to the Bangkok Hospital in Korat (Thailand’s second bigger city). As I wanted to get the best treatment/information I could afford. I consulted their urologist about my problem. I had another PSA test which showed the reading had dropped to 9.35. However due to my beer drinking habit-my blood pressure was quite high. His suggestion that I should have a biopsy on my prostate could only happen once my B.P. had lowered to allow that to happen. Over the next three weeks through abstaining from beer, my B.P. had dropped to an acceptable and operable level. I was booked in for the procedure for June 18th 2018. Whilst awaiting this, I started to explore the internet about prostate cancer and anything to do with prostate. There was a mine of information out in the other but one particular advertisement caught my attention. It was Dr. Song and his 3D Urology Clinic and treatment. I read through all the procedures and the testimonies given by previous patients of the clinic. One thing stuck out to me then, and that was NOT to have a biopsy! After all the searches and reading about prostatic procedures I left an impulse that Dr. Song’s 3D Urology Clinic was my way forward. However my wife said that I should go ahead with biopsy as I had already booked it! This- I now regretfully- did. I was given an epidural to freeze my lower half of my body and a 15 needle sample was taken from my prostate. The whole procedure was over in 30 minutes and I left hospital at 5 P.M. the next day. I had to wait one week for the results of the pathology department to come back from Bangkok (the capital). My next consultation with the urologist confirmed that I had cancer. My immediate reaction was “How long have I got left”! He explained that my cancer diagnosis was 3+3 (Gleason Scale) and that it wasn’t advanced. I asked what the next step might be, he said I could wait six months and have another biopsy or I could travel to Bangkok and have an operation by the specialists there. I asked how much the operation might be? He was sure but it would be more than 500,000 Baht- about GBP12,000 minimum. I said that I would take a few weeks discussing it with my family and would decide my next step. Over the next few weeks I weighed up my options 1) To wait and have another biopsy at GBP 2000 again. Why? I know I have cancer already. Delaying treatment could only exasperate my condition! (I found his option totally incomprehensible!)
2) To travel to the U.K. and have a medical procedure there, where it would be free on the National Health Service, but I would perhaps have to join a waiting list.
3) Have the procedure carried out in Bangkok.
4) Have a non-invasive treatment, no surgery by Dr. Song.
Well having been warned by the urologist in Korat that the operation’s side effects could be a) impotence and b) incontinence or Both, I had already told my wife, with no bravado intended- quite honestly “I would rather die like a man than live like a baby”. The thought of wearing adult diapers for the rest of my life was a non-starter. So within two months of agonizing I booked to attend Dr. Song’s 3D Urology Clinic.
Treatment Experience and Feeling at the Clinic
I liaised with ‘Alisa’ via the internet, and having given her my details about my cancer readings and medical history of my prostate problem, Dr. Song advised that I should have a five week course of treatment.
I freely admit that the thought of spending 5 weeks away from my wife, family my six dogs and my home was rather intimidating. I have to tell you that I have never been fond of hospitals and medical treatment even visiting family and friends were somewhat of an unpleasant but necessary ordeal.
However from the moment I arrived at Changsha International Airport, China and was met by a beaming Alisa holding my name on a A4 paper, my fears began to subside. It was just over an hour’s drive to the hotel- Xiangtan City Convenience Inn which incidently is but a two minute stroll to the building across from the hotel which contains Dr. Song’s 3D Urology Clinic. My hotel room was very comfortable which also eased my fears. Next day Alisa met me in the lobby to take me to a local hospital for an MRI and blood tests. The blood tests/donations for analysis were no problem. However, my MRI was a failure owing to me having a Titanium hip. It cast a shadow across my groin area giving no result. I was then taken to the clinic on the 8 floor of the building where Dr. Song’s 3D Urology Clinic was sited. I entered the clinic and was happy to find it did not seem like a hospital. In fact it was very a relaxed atmosphere I found myself in. There was a front desk where Alisa and Cindy the clinic’s nurse worked from. There were some chairs and seats along on wall. There were two stations where people could sit whilst receiving IV treatment and of course it was air-conditioner. The next room along also contained two hospital style beds with IV stands. The third room contained Dr. Song’s consulting room and a door through to the treatment room for administering injections. Whilst you can tell medical procedures there carried out at the clinic, it had a very informal almost lounge-like atmosphere. I personally could not have wished for better. The relaxed friendly atmosphere of the clinic made for easy conversation both with the staff-Dr. Song, Ivan-his assistant, Alisa-the Ms. ‘fix it’ and Cindy the nurse, and the other attendees. There were seven of us to begin with having treatment and to a man we all got along well together, discussing our individual problems and treatments and congradulating one another when successful stages of our treatments were for the coming. You could say it was a bonus to have the atmosphere created by both staff and patients alike that enhances the clinic.
Evaluation on our doctors and clinic
As I have said previously, my dislike of hospitals, medical treatment etc. was completely evaporated at Dr. Song’s clinic. My experience has been 100% positive.
Dr. Song’s injections into the prostate whilst feeling the prostate (via through pelvic gap) enabled him to target the specific areas that were intended.
I have to say the first treatment day, where a sample of prostate fluid was squeezed from my prostate for micro-analysis was somewhat distressing to me owing to the fact that my prostate was twice the size that a normal prostate should be. (Ascertained by an ultrasound examination I forgot to mention earlier- sorry!)
However this only lasted less than a minute to achieve said sample. My next ‘discomforting moment’ were the two injections administered by Dr. Song for the first time. Obviously I have had many injections over the years and was a regular blood donor for a long while. However having injections into one of the most sensitive areas of the human body is going to be stressful. I admit the first 3 days caused me to be anxious before treatment began. However after that, it started to become less stressful. There was still discomfort during the procedure but as my treatment has progressed over three weeks it has become a very minor irritant for less than two minutes and I am able to walk away with no discomfort.
It was established through all the tests that I had a seven millimeter tumor and bacterial infection as well as calcification and pathogens present in my prostate. The two daily injections were throughout the five week course. After one week I was given 20 containers of Chinese herbal medicine, one to take mixed with 500 mililitres of boiling water every day.
Specifically I was told not to drink my Chinese tea within two hours of having drunk the medicine. I was also advised at my initial consultancy, not to drink coffee or alcohol throughout the five week course of treatment. After two weeks I was started on my IV treatment which contained three different intravenous drips.
There were administered and checked constantly by Cindy the nurse, the procedure lasting about two hours per session. These lasted for fifteen days and were completely painless and stress free. Before every injection, Dr. Song, Ivan and Alisa (taking notes as well) would ask after my general health i.e. my sleeping, my bowel and urination moments, my energy levels etc. So if there were any questions I needed to ask, they could answer all or any queries. Dr. Song logged all my comments and appropriate information in my personal medical notes. After each interview, Dr. Song would keep me company until he was ready to treat me. Ivan would accompany me into the room and I would remove my pants or shorts. As said before the injection procedure only lasts about two minutes and the more you have the less stressful you become- even blase about it! Once treatment is over you dress and if you have no further questions you are at will to do whatever, talk to the other patients or go on your way. To sum up, very pleased with all procedures bearing in mind. No medical treatment of this kind can be completely stress free and without minor discomfort.
Evaluation on China
About 14 years ago, I visited HongKong for four nights. I stayed at a hotel in Kow Loon. I had a very enjoyable time there. I took a day trip via the hydra-boil to visit Macau and looked around the old parks when it was a Portuguese territory as well as visiting one or two casinos. I found HongKong fascinating and came away with some many happy memories. Visiting the People’s Republic of China was something I had no prior knowledge of. I had seen T.V. programs on China- mainly tourist destinations.
My first impression of China was landing at Changsha International Airport. To my delight it was not overcrowded and I had passed through a comprehensive immigration check where they take both hands finger and thrum prints and your photo. Onto baggage recovery and out through customs where everybody’s bags are put through an X-ray machine. Bags collected and into the arrivals hall where I met Alisa from the 3D Urology Clinic. Everything smooth. After just over an hour drive, we arrived at the hotel I would be staying in Xiangtan City Convenience Inn. I paid for one night on arrival. I found the room very comfortable and modern. I would meet Alisa the next morning in the lobby to go to a hospital for blood checks and an MRI. This was my first real look at mainland China. I quickly noticed there were no other European looking people around I found some Chinese regarded me as a curiosity as Xiangtan is not on the tourist map, so I was a bit of a rarity! My blood samples were given in a quite public area, but efficiently done. We then went to the building where I was to have my MRI carried out. This was a longer wait but I eventually had it but it was inconclusive because my Titanium hip clouded at the groin area. It took me a few days to get to know my local area. I found a Hyper-mart that sold all the things I initially needed, T. pot, cup, teaspoon, sharp knife etc. I bought lots of fresh fruit, walnuts, and yoghurts plus green tea which I drink a lot at home.
My next searches were the surrounding area shops and parks. I found a lovely lake park called Yuhu Park within twenty minutes walk from the hotel where I would spend hours everyday reading and writing in lovely serene surroundings sometimes interrupted by other people who were always very friendly even if they could not speak a word of English, as indeed I could not speak Chinese!
Within two days I had started walking. My first walk was around Yuhu park and back to the hotel. I was lucky in as much there was a fellow attendee of the clinic called Dave- 73 years old and a devoted marathon runner! He told me of one route he had taken and I decided to copy that one. I bought a pair of walking shoes and many pairs of socks and I was away every morning, at the beginning doing about 10 kms- about 1hour 45 minutes. I then after about a week, increased it to 12 kms- about 2 hrs, and do the same route everyday before breakfast. You gradually get to know many other people out exercising daily and I am on Hello and Good morning terms with many Chinese people! When shopping I use a quasi-sign language and I get the person to write their price on paper if it is not labeled already. I can honestly say I have had no negative experiences whatsoever. In fact it has been really enjoyable, contrary to what I may have been expecting beforehand. I would definitely come to China again but hopefully, depending on my successful treatment as a tourist！
Anything you want to say
To sum up, my experience of being an attendee of Dr. Song’s 3D Urology Clinic and my general feelings about the complete experience of my time here.
I can absolutely confirm that I would recommend anybody facing a similar medical predicament such as I was facing before coming here, to Not have a biopsy but to have an MRI (if you do not have a replacement hip(s))or and an ultrasound of your prostate to confirm your prostate condition first. Then contact the 3D Urology Clinic via email and give them the results and any medical history to do with your prostate.
Then await what Dr. Song has to diagnose and consider his synopsis and course of treatment that you would expect to have to help/cure your individual problem. Whilst I have been attending the clinic I have had the pleasure of knowing six other people with prostate problems. All of us had different problems. No two of us were similar, although a lot of the treatment has been similar for some of us. You are in fact individually targeted with the injections depending on the size of tumors. The Chinese herbal medicines whether antibiotic or anti-cancer can be given in different amounts and times again depending on your condition.
I can only say I have been 100% satisfied with the care and attention I have received and as a bonus, the fellow attendees have all to a man, been supportive of each other and informative about many aspects of prostate cancer and diet, exercises etc. We have been like a small friendly self-help group!
Updated in May 2019: Half a year after the end of 3D treatment, the patient’s tumor has completely disappeared through a comprehensive review.