Previous : The last pills ( almost )
#ProstateCancer #StarWars #DeathStar #DrawnAndCoded #IWillBeatThis
Previous : The last pills ( almost )
#ProstateCancer #StarWars #DeathStar #DrawnAndCoded #IWillBeatThis
Last night I took my last dose of Abiraterone. Two 500mg tablets. Roughly one hundred dollars worth of high octane prostate cancer killing medication. I plucked them with care from my well worn pill case and stopped just short of tossing them into my mouth. Feeling bizarrely nostalgic I pulled my phone from my pocket, shrugged, and snapped a quick picture. Then I swallowed them with no more than six ounces of water. I had learned the dangers of chugging too much water before bedtime much earlier in my cancer journey, it ain’t pretty. I had learned many things over the last couple of years.
“Good news!”, Dr. Stewart smiled as he walked into the exam room. “No Lupron shot today!”
“Right? And, I took the last of my Abiraterone pills last night.”, I agreed.
Dr. Stewart then instructed me how I should go about weaning myself off of my last medication, a steroid named Prednisone. Unlike the Abiraterone pills I downed the night before, Prednisone cannot be stopped cold turkey. Abiraterone affects the adrenal glands. Prednisone is prescribed along with it to replenish what would otherwise be produced naturally by the gland. Stopping Prednisone too fast would make me feel lethargic and tired. I would have to keep taking it daily for two weeks followed by every other day for an additional two weeks.
“So, I’m not really off medication. Not yet.”, I said aloud to no one in particular.
“When will my testosterone start coming back?”, I asked, changing the topic.
It was then I learned that it could take 6 months or more and that the timeline varies from person-to-person. Fortunately age is a big factor, and I’m relatively young at 45. Two years without testosterone has had a remarkable effect on my body. Body hair – gone. Libido – gone. Grumpy and tired – check. A lack of testosterone has even affected my bones; this year I was diagnosed with early onset osteoporosis. Weight gain, man boobs, and muscle loss are the only side effects I’ve managed to sidestep, and I credit my plant-based diet and exercise regimen on dodging those bullets. Boobs are cool, just not on me.
“So, how will I know when my testosterone is returning?”, I asked.
Dr. Stewart told me that he would monitor my testosterone as well as other markers through monthly blood tests. As my body recovered the tests would be stretched out to every three months. My PSA, a marker used for detecting prostate cancer, would be tested at three-month intervals rather than the monthly tests I had become accustomed to.
“You should start noticing things returning to normal as your testosterone levels increase.”, Dr. Stewart continued, “Your libido will get better. Morning wood, maybe …”
“Should I call you if I wake up with morning wood?”, I interrupted, laughing.
Dr. Stewart laughed. I took that as a solid “no”.
“Hey!”, I asked quickly in an attempt to break the awkwardness of the moment. “Do you mind if we get one more picture?”
“Sure”, he smiled.
And, for those of you who have been following my cancer journey here’s a picture from two years ago during our first appointment with Dr. Stewart.
I’m not naïve. I know cancer, especially aggressive ones such as mine, have a tendency to rear their ugly head again – sometimes long after treatment. Dr. Stewart told me as much during my previous appointment and I’ve read about such reoccurrences on the multitude of forums that I follow as well. I’m a realist. I know that my treatment “vacation” and so-called “last pill” could very well be temporary. I know that I’ll be anxious every three months when I get my bloodwork done to check my PSA levels. I know that every time I have an ache or pain I’ll wonder if my cancer has returned. I know all of this, but for now I just want to be a cancer survivor. I want to take off the gloves and figure out how to be me again – not the cancer warrior, but just me.
And, if my cancer ever does decide to come back? Well, I kicked its ass before and I’ll just have to do it again.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Previous : The Last Shot
Next : That’s no moon!
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #photon #hormonetherapyvacation #psma # #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis #abiraterone #zytiga #prednisone
“There’s a very high probability that your cancer will return.”
My 3-month checkup with my oncologist, Dr. Stewart had just ended. Jodie and I were waiting for what hopefully would be my last shot of Lupron before going on a hormone therapy “vacation” and I couldn’t get Dr. Stewart’s voice out of my head.
“What are the odds of …(pause)… you know what? Never mind. I don’t think I want to know.”, I responded.
And I really don’t. If someone told you that it would be nearly impossible to succeed at something, how hard would you try? I need hope and it’s friend, optimism on my side – even if it’s unfounded in reality.
To quote Jim Carrey’s character, Lloyd, in the movie, Dumb and Dumber: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
But Dr. Stewart is right. Statistics don’t lie. So, for the rest of the appointment I refocused on what treatments I could expect if I were to relapse after being taken off of hormone therapy. Unsurprisingly, I would be put back on hormone therapy immediately. If my PSA level, a blood marker used to detect prostate cancer, were to exceed .5 ng/mL, a PSMA Scan would be performed on me. If the acronym PSMA sounds familiar it’s because Dr. Stewart wanted me to undergo one two years ago at UCLA when I was newly diagnosed. At the time the scan was going through FDA approval. Recently approved, UCSD had one installed just days before my appointment. The upsides of FDA approval are that insurance would probably cover it ( it was $3000 out-of-pocket two years ago ). The downsides are that I might not want to see what the scan has to show me. It’s incredibly precise and has the potential to pick up metastasis missed in my prior CT and MRI scans. Ignorance is bliss, right?
“And if my PSA were to rise and the PSMA scan were to pick up something? Then what?”, I asked Dr. Stewart.
“If there’s not too many spots we’d radiate them.”
“…and if it’s in a place that has already been radiated?”, I pushed.
“Then we’d have a longer conversation with your radiation oncologist. Dr. Rose.”, he replied.
“It’s like ‘whack-a-mole’.”, he continued, using an analogy.
“And we’d just keep hitting the new spots over and over?”, I asked.
“Yes, as long as the cancer responds.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“Then we look at other therapies.”, he replied.
Dr. Stewart also told me that I had the option of staying on hormone therapy. I quickly dismissed the idea.
First off, my body needs a break. In my last post I wrote about how hormone therapy can cause bone loss. Well it can also cause muscle loss, fatigue, and liver problems. In addition to 3-month Lupron shots I’m also on Zytiga, another pill-based form of hormone therapy used for advanced prostate cancer, and a steroid, Prednisone – both of which require monthly blood panels. A month hasn’t gone by where I haven’t seen an abnormal reading.
Second, by staying on hormone therapy I’d never know if I was really in remission, or if the hormone therapy was just suppressing the cancer. No, it was time to pull the blocks and take the prostatectomy-ied, radiated, and “hormone-therapy-ed” “car” out for a drive and see what happens.
Third, hormone therapy becomes less effective over time. Hormone therapy works by stopping your body from producing testosterone. Initially, prostate cancer requires testosterone to thrive, but eventually the cancer adapts and starts producing it on its own. The clinical term for this is “Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer”, or CRPCa. CRPCa is much more difficult to treat and the longer I’m on hormone therapy, the greater the chance my cancer will become resistant to hormone therapy.
( Knock! Knock! )
“Ready for your shot?”, my nurse asked from behind the exam room door.
“Yup! Come’on in!”, I replied, grimacing.
While my nurse donned her protective gear and prepared the shot I fumbled with the exam table’s foot pedal to raise it up to white-knuckled-grabbing-position.
“This is my last shot!”, I said, and then stumbled a little, “…. hopefully…”
“I hope so, too.”, she replied, smiling.
It was my seventh time getting stabbed in the ass with a horse needle full of Lupron. My first injection, a different but similar medication called Degarelix, was administered to both sides of my belly almost two years ago. This time I barely felt it at all.
The Lupron will remain in my system for three months. In December, for the first time in two years, I won’t receive a follow-up shot. I will stop taking Zytiga, too. A week or two later I will go off of the steroid, Prednisone, and then my hormone therapy “vacation” will begin. I am looking forward to the vacation, but I’m more than a little scared. too. Currently my PSA is .01 ng/mL, or undetectable. If my PSA were to increase it would indicate a recurrence; that somewhere inside of me the cancer is still alive and growing. It would also imply that, until there’s a cure, I’ll likely be fighting it for the rest of my life.
In the past I’ve referred to the whole cancer journey as a trip down a dark tunnel. It’s scary. It’s dark. And it seems to go on forever. As with any tunnel there is light at the end. Those are your family, your friends, and your supporters waving flashlights and urging you forward. The thing is there’s light in the tunnel, too. You just need to look harder for it. This light is from cancer survivors who continue to fight. Although they haven’t made it out yet themselves, they, too, urge you forward. They’ve been down the same path. The path forward is possible. It’s been done. You just need to follow the light to find your way.
So wave those flashlights, people – and tell you what, I’ll wave mine, too.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Previous: Walk the Walk
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #photon #hormonetherapyvacation #psma # #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis
The Prostate Cancer Run/Walk didn’t quite go as planned. Due to COVID, the organizer, ZERO, deemed that it would be too risky for a large group of people, including those undergoing treatment for cancer, to meet. As such the event was made virtual. Instead of a walk around De Anza Cove, ZERO welcomed participants to walk on their own at whatever venue they wanted and to log their mileage online.
Disappointed, but still very much wanting to walk, I emailed all of my friends and family that had signed up and invited them to join Jodie, Ashley, Kaylee and I at Blue Sky Preserve in Poway. In the email I wrote :
I am almost two years into this cancer thing and I’m doing good. Good enough to walk the walk even if there’s no fanfare, music, or finish line. Because all the pomp and circumstance doesn’t really matter. All that does matter is kicking cancer’s ass, preferably in the company of the friends and family who have supported me along the way. Please let me know if you’d still like to join us.
44 people showed up.
It was awesome.
In all honesty I didn’t walk the entire 5k. I led from the rear with my mom and aunt. We decided to turn back as the others on our team reached the halfway point and met us on their return trip. Although we could have gone the distance it didn’t seem as important as it had been just an hour earlier. The walk was a success. We raised $4134 making us the second biggest fundraiser in San Diego. We were also the second biggest team. Even better, we brought attention to a nasty disease, and honesty, selfishly, gave me the best day I’ve had in a long time.
( Later that night )
“Did you like my rousing speech today?”, I asked Jodie.
We had just finished dinner and she was washing dishes in the sink. I stood next to her drying them with a dish rag.
“What speech?!?”, she exclaimed, diverting her attention from the soapy water to me.
“The speech!”, I insisted. “…right before we started walking. The motivational one!”
“All you did was blubber and cry behind your sunglasses!”, she laughed, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah!”, I smiled, “That one.”
Thank you for your support. I hope to see you all next year!
Previous : Osteoporosis
Next : The last shot
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis #prostatecancerzero #prostatecancerwalk #prostatecancer #theenedofprostatecancer #teamvandervort
A few months ago my oncologist, Dr. Stewart, scheduled me for a bone density scan to check me for osteoporosis, a potential side effect of hormone therapy. The procedure was non-invasive, painless, and produced so little radiation that the technicians administering the scan were able to sit in the same room with me. It was a novelty for me given the precautions taken for CT and MRI scans and radiation therapy. It took about ten minutes to scan my hips, upper legs, and lower back…
“Can I talk?”, I asked the technician seated across from me.
“Sure, just don’t move too much.”, the technician replied.
“Hey … so you’re not just scanning my butt to fax to your co-workers, are you?…”
“…because this thing you have me laying on really doesn’t look much different than a larger version of the copy machine at my office.”, I joked.
“No ( laugh ), of course not!”, the tech replied.
“I’m not sure I believe you…..”, I laughed, trying not to move.
A few days later I got the initial report : I had mild osteoporosis. The results warranted a visit with Dr. Hofflich, an orthopedic doctor, to go over the results in more detail and discuss potential treatments. It was a very educational meeting.
Leuprolide ( or, “Lupron” ) and other types of hormone therapy can weaken bones over time. In addition some steroids can also weaken bones, particularly Prednisone, a steroid which is prescribed along with Abiraterone Acetate ( also known by the brand name “Zytiga” ). Dr. Hofflich told me that given my test results she would have, in retrospect, started me on a medication to strengthen my bones at the outset of my hormone therapy. However, as my therapy would be paused ( hopefully indefinitely) towards the end of the year, it wouldn’t make sense to do so so late in the game. I got the impression that, for older patients, a preliminary bone density scan would have been standard procedure prior to starting treatment for cancer. However, for a 43 year old in otherwise good shape I don’t think it ever crossed anyone’s minds – including mine.
It’s a slow process that can take years, but bones can recover on their own. Dr. Hofflich emphasized doing “impact” exercises. These are exercises that stress the bones and force them to become tougher and stronger. Running, jogging, hiking … even walking helps. Weight training, too. In general alI exercise is good, however I was a little surprised to hear that Dr. Hofflich wasn’t a big fan of bicycling or swimming…
“Swimming and bicycling are great for building muscle and losing weight, but not so much for building bone.”, she told me. “These exercises don’t stress the bones enough.”
I mentioned to her that I was on a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) Diet and she wasn’t perturbed. She told me that as long as I take calcium and magnesium supplements along with my normal diet, I would be getting more than enough calcium. She did, however, emphasize that I shouldn’t take all of the supplements at the same time and that, instead, I should stagger the dosage throughout the day to improve absorption.
As part of my monthly blood panel, Dr. Hofflich ran some additional tests to see if there are any other explanations for my osteoporosis. The tests all came back negative. In a year she plans on running another bone density scan to reevaluate my bone density. In the meantime it’s more walking, more impact, and … bubble wrap.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Previous : A Bake Sale
Next : Walk the Walk
#osteoporosis #bonedensityscan #prednisone #prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis
Today my family and I held a bake sale to benefit Prostate Cancer Research and Awareness. My wife, Jodie, and daughters Ashley and Kaylee baked and decorated sugar cookies and cupcakes. They were a hit and brought in over $360 in donations! During the bake sale we even recruited a few new members for our team, “Team Vandervort”, which will be participating in the Prostate ZERO Run/Walk in San Diego on September 18th.
For more information on the Prostate ZERO Walk/Run and how to support “Team Vandervort” click here.
Thank you for your support.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Previous : Walk with me
Next : Osteoporosis
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis #prostatecancerzero #prostatecancerwalk #prostatecancer #theenedofprostatecancer #bakesale
“What should I call my team?”, I asked without looking up from my laptop, “‘Team Vandervort’?”
“I don’t want to sound conceited, but I really don’t know what else to name it.”, I continued.
“’Team Vandervort’ is good”, Jodie replied. She was scrubbing a cake pan in the kitchen sink. It was one of many left over from my oldest daughters’ latest baking frenzy.
I looked up from my laptop and over to her.
“I’m thinking about a slogan, too….”, I ventured.
“Oh?” ( scrub, scrub, scrub )
“How about ‘Help me nip cancer in the groin’?”, I asked with a hint of a smirk.
The scrubbing stopped.
I consciously refocused my eyes on my laptop and the registration form displayed on its screen, but I could feel her “are you ^#$@%# nuts” glare burning into my temple.
“…. weeeeeeeell, maybe not. Just ‘Team Vandervort’ will work I guess”, I answered quickly.
The scrubbing resumed.
And that’s the problem with Prostate Cancer. While Breast Cancer has captivated the public with humorous yet risque catch phrases like “Save the Boobies”, Prostate Cancer is quick to refrain from such things less people be offended. Admittedly, the prostate just isn’t as much of a crowd pleaser. I totally get it. I wouldn’t want to see one strolling down the street, either.
Regardless, the 2021 Prostate Cancer Walk is important to me. When I was first diagnosed in late 2019 I had missed it by a month. I promised my daughters that we’d walk next year – only to be denied again by COVID restrictions. This year, however, Prostate ZERO has pulled out all of the stops. It’s happening,
Unlike most cancers, Prostate Cancer can be cured if caught early enough. I walk to bring attention to the disease so that other men will be aware of this. So that they will get tested. So that they can “nip cancer in the groin” before it’s too late. I walk to support people afflicted with the disease so that they can afford the treatments and care that will make them better. I walk because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I have.
Rest assured that I am doing well.
It’s been well over a year since my prostatectomy, seven months since my last radiation treatment, and my hormone therapy will be winding down later this year. My PSA, an indicator of prostate inflammation – or in my case ( since I am lacking a prostate ) – cancer, has stayed undetectable. I credit my incredible medical team at UCSD Moores Cancer Society, my loving and supportive family and friends, and some pretty extreme lifestyle changes. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of so many people.
If you’d like to join me and “Team Vandervort” in the 2021 Prostate Cancer ZERO Walk please click here for my team page. On my team page there are two buttons: “Donate to Team Vandervort” and “Join Team Vandervort”. The second button, “Join Team Vandervort”, will register you to participate in the walk and prompt you to select a team. The first button, “Donate to Team Vandervort” will allow you to make a donation but not participate in the walk.
There is a 5k run/walk as well as a 1k walk. My family and I will be participating in the 5k walk.
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 8:00 AM
For more information on the event click here. Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see you there!
Take care. Live life. Walk with me.
Previous : The Road Ahead
Next : A Bake Sale
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis #prostatecancerzero #prostatecancerwalk #prostatecancer #theenedofprostatecancer
It has been a little over a month since I finished 45 sessions of radiation therapy for prostate cancer at UCSD. The radiation therapy itself was a follow up to a surgery that I had in March to remove my prostate. The good news is that I’m doing great! I’m about where I was prior to radiation therapy, which, although is nowhere near where I was before prostate cancer, makes me incredibly happy nonetheless. To put it another way, I can live like this. This week I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Rose, my radiation oncologist to discuss my recovery and the road ahead.
For the foreseeable future my cancer ( or ideally, lack thereof ) will be monitored by PSA tests. If you’ve been following my posts you’ll remember that the PSA blood test measures prostate inflammation. A normal PSA score is below 3 ng/mL for men my age. However, since my prostate was surgically removed my score should be undetectable, or less than 0.01 ng/mL. If my score rises above that threshold it means that the cancer wasn’t eradicated and managed to survive.
“If I have a recurrence will it be in the same area in which I received radiation?”, I asked.
“No, usually the cancer will metastasize somewhere else.”, Dr. Rose replied.
“And if it does, can I receive additional radiation therapy?”, I asked.
“Yes.”, he replied. He then continued to list a variety of scenarios. Bone metastasis. Lymph node metastasis. Each scenario could potentially be treated with radiation, albeit with much shorter spans.
“So, no more 45-day benders?”, I reiterated.
“No.”, he shook his head.
“Good. I mean, you’re a great doctor … person … and all, but I hope I never have to see you again.”, I joked.
The big test will be after I complete my two-year course of hormone therapy next November. The therapy, also known as Androgen Deprivation Therapy, or ADT, has been starving my cancer of testosterone, which it requires to grow. Once I’m off ADT my body will start producing testosterone again which will provide fuel to any remaining cancer. The big milestones for long term remission are at the 5-year and 10-year marks. However, I’ll always be at risk of a recurrence.
“I, like most doctors, really don’t like using the word ‘cure’….”, Dr. Rose started.
For a doctor it’s got to be rough not being able to confirm the one thing that every single cancer patient wants to know.
“….yeah, I get it. You really just don’t ever know. It’s too bad, but I get it.”, I interrupted.
“So, is there anything I should be doing”, I asked.
“Are you still doing Kegel exercises?”, he countered.
“Twice a day for the rest of my life.”, I replied. “It sure beats diapers!”
My prostatectomy had eliminated a valve in my urinary tract. Radiation had weakened it even further. Strengthening the muscles in my pelvic floor have been essential in keeping me dry.
“Anything else?”, I asked.
“Well, at this point we’d kind of like for you to get your life back to normal.”, he smiled.
I smiled back.
Yeah, I like the sound of that.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Previous : Goodbye, Radiation …
Next : Walk with me
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis
For the last month and a half I have been driving to UCSD 5 days a week with 30+ ounces of water sloshing around in my bladder and an empty colon to get everything south of my belly button irradiated. Fortunately, my team at UCSD has been fantastic, and to thank them, I handed out bags of See’s Candy to everyone. As I was rolled into what I have affectionately dubbed the “glory hole” for the last time, I requested that they blast Oingo Boingo’s “Goodbye” during my final treatment. Patients are not not supposed to move while getting treated, but that didn’t keep me from drumming my fingers and humming along anyway.
“You guys have all been great and all, but …. I hope I never have to see any of you ever again.”, I teased my crew as they helped me out of the machine. After some awkward, socially distanced high-fives and elbow bumps I quickly made my way to the lobby.
For radiation therapy, at least at UCSD, there’s a huge brass bell in the lobby that patients are encouraged to ring on completion of their therapy. I was so excited to be done and to head home that I completely forgot to “ring the bell” and made a beeline for my car. My crew, busily eating their chocolates, forgot to remind me as well.
As I pulled up onto our street I saw Jodie chasing a blue balloon across our driveway. I stifled a chuckle and pulled into the driveway. Jodie quickly waved me back onto the street where I parked along the curb. After exiting the car and walking up to the driveway I saw why. She had our friends all write encouraging and uplifting phrases, with chalk, all over the driveway.
“I had planned to tape balloons to the garage door, too, but they kept popping.”, she smiled.
On the garage door she had hung letters that read “We are so proud of you”. After a couple of quick pictures against the sign Ashley and Kaylee ushered me inside.
“Open your gifts dad!”, they said in unison after plopping our new puppy, Maddie, in my lap.
In the first bag were several things, but it was a handmade stuffed orange tiger which I was immediately drawn to. If you don’t know why, I encourage you to read “Calvin and Hobbes”, a popular comic strip of the 80’s and 90’s which I grew up with. Earlier in the week I had hung a Calvin and Hobbes picture over the couch in my home office / fortress of solitude. My mom, unbeknownst to me, sewed me up my own “Hobbes” to accompany the picture. “Hobbes” primed the tears for my next gift.
“Can you read what it says?”, Jodie asked me after I unwrapped it.
It took a box of Kleenex and what seemed like forever before I could get my mouth to cooperate, and what finally came out wasn’t much.
“….I …. I …. really don’t know what to say.”
Jodie and my friends had created a collage. Each picture was a family member or friend holding a word. Together, the words read :
“One step closer to cancer-free! Keep kicking cancer’s butt! We love you and are proud of the strength and humor you have brought to this fight!”
Hours later and I’m still at a loss for words.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life…. and surround yourself with people that love you.
Previous : One Year Cancerversary
Next : The Road Ahead
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #oingoboingo #goodbye #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis
A year ago today I had a doctors appointment that changed my life forever. The appointment was to go over the results of a biopsy that I had undergone the prior week to determine why my PSA level was in the high 70’s. Normal is under 4. My symptoms were similar to a urinary tract infection, or UTI, except they hung around for months. I had a constant urge to pee and, when I did, a weak stream that burned. My then-doctor and his predecessor both believed that my symptoms and elevated PSA, due to my young age, were due to inflammation, a condition known as Prostatitis. I didn’t have any reason to doubt either of them.
As Jodie and I were lead back to the exam room we passed my doctors office. He was pouring over a folder full of paperwork for I assume me, his next patient. He didn’t look up and looked very very tense. In retrospect it’s amazing how much information you can glean from a 5-second glance. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. At that point I knew something was up.
“I’m sorry, but you have cancer.”, my doctor told me after settling into the exam room.
The rest of the appointment was a blur. I remember sound bites.
“All cores positive”.
At some point I rushed over to Jodie to keep her from falling out of her chair. She had passed out in shock whereas the diagnosis still hadn’t registered in my mind.
Somehow I managed to drive home and call my mom on the way. My gut reaction was to warn everyone in my family to get checked. Prostate Cancer can be hereditary and my grandfather had died from it in his early 80s. My mom took the news better than I thought, or did a great job suppressing her emotions. Both she and my wife have been my rocks throughout all of this.
It’s been a crazy year since. In March I had surgery to remove my prostate. Next week will conclude 35 rounds of radiation. I’m also on a two-year cycle of medications to starve my cancer ( and me ) of testosterone.
If I sound like a broken record, it’s for good reason. Prostate Cancer is cureable if caught early enough. If you have a family history of the disease, are African American, or ex-military you have an even greater chance of being diagnosed. Please get checked. It’s as easy as a blood test.
The best part? I’m alive and am I’m going to be around for a very very long time.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
Previous : You might experience some digestive issues …
Next : Goodbye, Radiation …
#prostatecancer #cancer #prostatitis #psa #prostate #urology #oncology #radiationtherapy #radiation #ebrt #proton #radicalprostatectomy #chemotherapy #hormonetherapy #surgery #lupron #leuprolide #drawnandcoded #iwillbeatthis #cancerversary