Mike, your experience is similar to mine. My primary care physician caught the steady increase in my PSA count and referred me to my Urologist. By the time of my biopsy, it jumped a point. After I was diagnosed with cancer, it jumped again, going from 3.8 to 6.1 in 4 months. My Gleason also was 8.
The toughest thing after the diagnosis was what to do. My Urologist gave me a book with all the options. After reading the book, he asked me what I wanted to do. Totally confused, I sought out people who had been treated and decided to stay away from surgery and look into Proton Beam Therapy. Fortunately, like you, I eventually contacted Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Mayo was very professional and gave me the best information on what to expect. They confirmed my diagnosis and then put me through a bone scan and hour and half MRI to be sure that the cancer was contained in the prostate, which it was. Since my cancer was more advanced, they put me on hormone therapy to slow down its progression. It also made the cancer cells less active and shrunk the prostate, making it easier to radiate. The research indicates that I had a 20 per cent greater success of survival with the combination of radiation and hormone therapy then just the radiation. We then waited two months before treatment started. I also had 20 treatments and finished at the end of January. Just had my check up and PSA was negligible.
I won't tell you that it was a piece of cake. The hormone therapy has some side effects like no libido, tiredness, muscle loss, weight gain, and moodiness. However, I was able to be active throughout the whole process, and would do it again.
Through the process, I met a number of people receiving Proton Beam Therapy. Their story was similar to mine. Mostly, they found out about the therapy on their own, and some were discouraged from having the therapy. Many traveled a great distance to get the therapy. Fortunately, Mayo has rent free facilities available.