Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Visit with the Oncologist

Site of Seidman Cancer Center
Chagrin Falls, OH
Yesterday (Monday) I returned to the Seidman Cancer Center of University Hospitals up in Chagrin. It was time. Three months have passed since my hormone-deprivation therapy commenced in late July. I took bicaludamide for a month and added a quarterly injection of Lupron in July, too.  And we crossed our fingers.

My side effects have not been excessively odious. I do have periods of extreme heat (as often as once an hour), but those periods don't last very long (a few minutes), have diminished in frequency lately--and they have not ever been debilitating--have never stopped me from doing what I'm doing. They've just made made me more aware of myself (which I don't like).  And, of course, my libido is behaving like the Cowardly Lion.  [TMI WARNING] I made the doctor laugh today when I told him I have had a few erotic dreams lately. I told him it was as if the feral part of my brain were saying, Hey! Come on!  We used to have fun!  Remember?  I do. Oh yes, I do.  But, for now (forever?) the Cowardly Lion cowers.

Some better news: My PSA test last week detected no measurable amount of the Prostate Specific Antigen--a great sign. Prior to my recent therapies my PSA had risen to 22.9.  (I should have no PSA: Surgeons removed my prostate in June 2005.)  When they took a measure a couple of months ago, it had fallen to 0.59.  Now, as I said, it's undetectable.  This is good news--some men don't respond at all to the therapy.

But I know that it's also temporary news. Some of my cancer cells will eventually figure out a "work-around" and will begin reproducing once again, ignoring the Lupron. The average time for this, I'm told, is 18-24 months.  Could be much more than that--or it could be sooner. I'm likely to be sooner since my post-surgical biopsy revealed a grim, aggressive cancer. But I'm not going to think about that (much!) until my numbers start moving northward again.

There were some worrisome numbers on my blood test for liver function--but they were out of whack with what I'd manifested only a couple of months earlier, so I repeated the test Monday--but do not yet know the results.  So this was a "two-prick" day: once in the arm (liver test), once in the derrière (Lupron).  (I'm leaning forward a little in my desk chair right now ... guess why?)  But I don't go back till January--so that's good.

When I got home yesterday--a phone call. My primary care physician, who'd asked me to keep track of my blood pressure for a few weeks, now thinks that my numbers show borderline hypertension (gee, wonder why?), so she's going to put me on a "very low dose" of something whose name I've forgotten since I haven't been over to the pharmacy yet to pick it up.  We'll see how that affects me.

And so I think these days of some of my favorite lines from Coleridge (whose birthday was yesterday) in his poem "Youth and Age"--lines I've quoted here before ...

When I was young? – Ah, woeful When!
Ah! for the change ’twixt Now and Then!
This breathing house not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong ...

(Here's a link to the whole poem--and another link to YouTube, where you can hear a British woman read the text while you stare at a cover of a book--sound enticing?)

Sitting in the waiting room yesterday, Joyce beside me, I started thinking of an image--not one all that pleasant.  Most of us who sit (or who have sat) in medical waiting rooms for various reasons often have a loved one in an adjacent chair. That presence is priceless. But in the other chair on our other side, of course, sits Death. He may be there is his greedy phase--wanting you very, very soon, letting you know in ways unsubtle. Or he may be a pale shadow, faint in the artificial light. Barely visible. But there, oh, most definitely there.  (He's always been nearby, of course; most of the time we ignore the sensation--or pretend we don't see or know.)

Joyce on one side, Death on the other.

No contest. I prefer the former.

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