I'd been putting this one off--the trip to the local Acme Pharmacy. Waiting for me there, I knew, was a little bottle holding a thirty-day supply of bicalutamide, the pills I will begin to take on July 16, the day I go to the Cleveland Clinic to get my first injection that will commence my hormone therapy, a last-ditch effort to stall the progress of (not cure) my prostate cancer, which surgery and radiation both failed to defeat. My oncologist believes it has moved into the bones (my left ribcage), and I have had pain there for some months--nothing debilitating, nothing I really notice unless I sit in a hard chair, or lean the wrong way, or back into something sturdier than I.
Thus ... the bicalutamide.
I looked the stuff up on WebMD. Here's what it is:
Bicalutamide is used to treat prostate cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. It is used in combination with hormone treatment. This medication works by blocking the action of male hormones in the prostate, slowing growth of the tumors.
Blocking the action of male hormones. Get the picture? That's the drug's principal function. Prostate cancer cells feed on testosterone. So ... starve the beast. And the possible side effects?
Flushing and sweating (hot flashes), body aches and pains, breast swelling/tenderness/pain, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, weakness, hair loss, weight changes, constipation, diarrhea, stomach upset, gas, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite may occur.
Not a lot there to look forward to. (Constipation and diarrhea! Isn't that a bit like hunger and starvation? Tall and short? Brilliant and stupid? Sick and well?)
My oncologist phoned in the Rx on June 19. So it's taken me about a week to collect the courage to go get it. I knew there was really no hurry (I don't start till mid-July)--though I have to say that the days have been whirring by even more alarmingly than they normally do. (One thing about clichés: They're often true--and the one about time accelerating as you age is absolutely true, at least it has been for me.)
I guess I was happy that it was only $10--thank you, Medicare and Express Scripts! I joked with the pharmacist: "Change my life for $10--that's a good deal!" He didn't know if he should laugh or not; I didn't either. So we just looked at each other. His eyes were kind.
I turned and went over to another aisle and found a pair of kitchen tongs to replace the rusty pair we've been using to grab ears of corn from the steamer. $1.28. Even a better deal. Joyce found a head of lettuce.
And then we went for a drive to Kent, the town where we met forty-four years ago in a KSU summer grad school class on American Transcendentalism. We tried to talk about other things--about anything except July 16. But it's not that easy amid the flurry of daily calendar pages whirling around us as if we're in an old movie.
July 16. What a date in my life. It's both the day Joyce and I officially met at KSU in 1969 and also our son's birthday--July 16, 1972. An age ago. And yesterday.