My girls and their friends are all big fans of Lego Masters, a new television show where teams compete with one another to create incredible builds based upon a theme.
Leveraging the coronoavirus restrictions as a unique opportunity, five families participated in Episode 1 of the “Rancho Bernardo Lego Masters : Coronavirus Lockdown Edition”. Each family used Zoom running on a mobile device or laptop to teleconference so that they could participate.
The winner of this weeks challenge, “Build the World’s Coolest Treehouse” was the Jock Family. Alexander and Kaliope won the exclusive “Rancho Bernardo Cup” with their amazing build. They will hold onto the cup until next Saturday for Episode 2.
Each family will represent a Team. A Team will be made up of one or more kids.
Each Team will need access to a device capable of running Zoom.
Each family will have two Votes. A family can only Vote for themselves once.
A Host (me) will host the Zoom meeting and be responsible for interviewing ( and muting ) the Teams throughout the challenge.
How it works
A Theme will be chosen from a hat by the Host and presented to all of the Teams.
Each Team will take5 minutesto create a Plan. A Plan is a one page paper describing about how the Team will build a Lego representing the Theme. The Plan can ( and should ) contain pictures. No building should take place during this time.
Each Team will take 1 hour to Build their Lego.
Each Team will take turns Showcasing their Build. While doing so they must describe how their Build fits the Theme.
Each family will submit two Votes for the best Build and discretely tell the Host.
The Host will tally the votes and award the winning Team the “Golden Cup”. The Golden Cup will be re-awarded with each competition.
“Wait….WHAT did you just say???”, I asked, bewildered.
“Lora thought that your surgery was going to be performed through your ‘taint‘.”, Jodie replied.
I couldn’t help but laugh a little.
For those of you who are just joining me on this crazy little adventure, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer last October. Next week, on March 16th, I am scheduled to have a radical prostatectomy, or the removal of my prostate.
Now, back to Lora.
Being a good friend of mine with a great, if not odd, sense of humor, I felt like some enlightenment might be in order. A quick text exchange ensued …
“Okay, I think I set her straight”, I told Jodie, chuckling.
“By the way, you know how some people undergoing knee replacement Sharpie their knees prior to surgery to make sure the surgeon operates on the correct knee?”, she asked me, with a smirk.
“Uh, yeah…”, I replied, cautiously.
“How about we Sharpie your balls beforehand with big ‘NO’s. You know, just to be safe?”
Okay, friends and family. Here’s the thing: Although I appreciate the humor and laughs, the comedic doors are closing quickly. Post surgery, a belly laugh will likely make me pee my pants or, at worst, bust a stitch.
Who am I kidding?
I love you guys. I’ll just have to stock up on pads and diapers …
“I’m pretty sure I just bought a 200 dollar bottle of soap.”, I told Jodie while leaving a very quick pre-op appointment with Dr. Christoper Kane’s nurse practitioner.
His nurse had handed me a large bottle of pink soap. It looked alarmingly like the same stuff that dispenses from a gas station restroom.
“The insurance will probably pay for it…”, Jodie replied.
I haven’t had major surgery before so I was a little surprised that an intensive bathing regime was in order beforehand. I was told to shower using the soap twice the day before surgery and once on the day of the surgery. Each of those times I also need to lather, rinse and repeat. She also instructed me to make sure my sheets were freshly washed as well as the bath towels and any clothes I will wear the day of surgery.
“My surgery is at 5:30 AM. I’ll have to wake up even earlier to hose down!”, I complained.
“….and you’ll be sleeping the rest of the day.”, she replied.
Good point. I’ll be sleeping under general anesthesia. Jodie, on the other hand, will be doing anything but that.
The Meal Train has left the station
“This is addressed to you…”, I told Jodie, slapping down a fat envelope addressed to her.
She cut open the envelope to reveal several gift cards for The Loving Hut, one of our favorite vegan restaurants.
“Gift cards?”, she looked up at me, “But from who?”
A phone call later revealed that the Meal Train had left the station and Jodie’s best friend from High School, Jenny and her husband Adam had decided to take a ride. Jayme, Jodie’s twin-sister, had set up the Meal Train to help us out after my surgery. I had never heard of Meal Trains prior to having kids. Jodie introduced them to me as part of her Mom’s Club whereas mom’s would help out other “new” moms with newborns in the same manner. Jodie was the helping hands coordinator for her group for a long time and participated in a lot of them.
Later that day my Mom and Aunt stopped by and delivered more gift cards for Panera Bread. They too, were “on board” the train.
I’m honestly at a loss of words to describe how grateful I am, not just for the meals, but for the love and support in general. Thank you.
Let’s do this thing
My PSA score is still dropping after four months of hormone therapy. As of this week it has plummeted to .74 which is well within the normal range for PSA screening. Next week my radical prostatectomy, if successful, should bring that number even lower – ideally to undetectable levels.
I’ve been asked several times over the last few days if I am ready.
When surgery was first proposed immediately following my diagnosis my answer would have been a resounding, “Hell no!” Since then I’ve learned a lot and have had the chance to talk to a lot of people. My favorite advice, which I have taken to heart, was to train for surgery like a runner does a marathon.
“If you train well enough you will succeed.”, I was told.
Today, aside from having cancer, I’m probably the healthiest I have been in my entire life. I’ve been exercising daily, eating healthy, and reigning in my stress and anxiety. Does that make me ready? I don’t know about ready, but I am prepared as I’ll ever be. Fire the starting pistol and let’s get this thing started already….
“Jodie, what the heck does this mean?”, I grumbled.
Jodie peered over my shoulder at the report for the CT scan that was performed on me two weeks prior. The report indicated, as my surgeon Dr. Kane had told us during my last appointment, that my prostate and compromised lymph node were now normal-sized. However, a little further down it read this :
Significant stool burden throughout the entire colon, indicating severe constipation.
SMALL & LARGE BOWEL: Significant stool burden throughout the colon.
“I think it means you were full of food.”, she replied.
“Well, YES. I mean, they had me fast for four hours ahead of time, so I crammed as much food in as I could.”
“And I am NOT constipated!”, I said with, in retrospect, a little too much bravado. I fired a quick email off to Dr. Stewart pleading my case and forgot all about it.
Fast forward a week.
Jodie and I were, once again, waiting in an exam room at UCSD’s Koman Outpatient Facility. We didn’t have to wait long before Dr. Stewart burst through the door.
“Oh my God, are you okay ?!?”
“Huh? What? Yeah, I’m fine, wh…”, I stuttered.
“I read your CT scan report and it sounds like you were very full and constipa ( smirking ) ….”
Dr. Stewart couldn’t keep it together and started laughing. In a prior post I wrote about doctors having to walk a fine line when using humor with their patients. Dr. Stewart nailed it this time. Jodie and I started laughing with him.
“Radiologists often point out things like this. I’ve looked at your scans and everything looks normal to me.”, he reassured me.
“Can you at least see what I ate in the scans?”, I asked, half jokingly.
Chuckling, Dr. Stewart brought up my scans on his computer and, although I thought they were as indecipherable as a rorschach test, he did his best to show me my full stomach and colon.
“So, how are you doing?”, he asked.
“Well, I’ve been on Lupron and Zytiga for over three months now.”, I told him, “The hot flashes are getting better, but I feel like I have had a lot less energy.”
“That’s because when you first started therapy it was a new challenge, but now that you’re in the thick of it, the honeymoon period is ov…..”, Dr. Stewart started.
“I’d hardly call it a honeymoon!”, I interrupted, smiling.
“Good point.”, Dr. Stewart chuckled, “Anything else?”
“Well, I got the paperwork for my radical prostatectomy next month, and I am a little relieved that I do not have to do an enema.”, I replied. In my opinion, food goes in the mouth and comes out the bottom, the reverse is never a good thing.
“Let’s talk about your surgery”, Dr. Stewart said.
He then told me that I would remain on Lupron during surgery, but I would take a two week break from Zytiga. When I asked him why, he told me that there’s not a lot of precedent for men being on Zytiga while having a radical prostatectomy. I would, however, remain on Prednisone the entire time. A week after surgery, the same day that I was to get my catheter removed, I would get my second shot of Lupron. I briefly envisioned how that day would go, and quickly changed channels. One step at a time, right?
“After surgery should my PSA be zero?”, I asked. PSA measures prostate inflammation. No prostate, no PSA.
“Yes.”, said Dr. Stewart.
“And if it’s not?”
Dr. Stewart started talking about radiation and I stopped him.
“For now, let’s just assume that the surgery is going to work and everything is going to be okay. I really don’t want to talk about radiation when I won’t really know if the surgery worked until I’m off of hormone therapy.”, I interrupted.
Hormone therapy starves prostate cancer cells. It’s why my PSA has dropped from 103 to 1.14 while I have been on it. As I am to remain on hormone therapy for up to two years, worrying about any residual cancer after surgery seemed premature.
Next, we discussed my genetic screening results.
Since being treated by Dr. Stewart I have had two genetic screening tests performed, the first by Tempus and the second by Invitae . These tests scan for BRCA1, BRCA2, and HOXB13 mutations in your DNA. While having these mutations greatly increase your chance of getting Breast, Ovarian, or Prostate Cancer, the mutations, being as common as they are, have been targeted by pharmaceutical companies in the development of newer, very effective medications, such as Lynparza.
Given my family history of cancer, Dr. Stewart thought that I might have had one of these mutations, but the results from both companies came back negative.
“Is that good or bad?”, I asked him.
“It’s neither good nor bad. It is what it is.”, Dr. Stewart replied.
I was almost disappointed. Having a known mutation would have likely made me an easier target for therapies. But then Jodie snapped me out of it.
“It’s good! It means that our daughters aren’t carriers, either.”, she said.
Thanks, honey. Very good point.
“Any other questions?”, Dr. Stewart asked.
I shook my head no which, in reality, was far from the truth. I had lots of questions, but realizing that not all of them had answers and that our appointment was winding down, I relented.
As it turns out I won’t see Dr. Stewart again for over two-and-a-half months. He explained that, after surgery, my cancer treatments will quickly become a routine of hormone therapy, bloodwork, and PSA tests for the next year or so. I understood, but I will miss our monthly pow-wows nonetheless. Dr. Stewart is a fantastic doctor. As he left the room I held up my arms in a mock embrace and smiled. He smiled back and closed the door behind him.