Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back to the Oncologist

Seidman Cancer Center
University Hospitals
Near Chagrin Falls, OH
I'm hanging on.

Last week I had my quarterly PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test and, after a day or so of the usual anxiety ("usual anxiety"--that's a comforting phrase), waiting for the results, I learned that my PSA remains undetectable more than a year after my first quarterly injection of Lupron (July 2013). So, the Lupron appears to be doing its job: zapping my testosterone so that my prostate cancer has no "food."

Then, yesterday, I had my follow-up session with my oncologist, who remains encouraged. My case was an odd one, back from the earliest diagnosis in early 2005. My biopsy then showed a medium-range cancer and did not seem to worry anyone. I had a prostatectomy (removal of the gland) in June 2005, and then things got dicey. The post-op pathology showed a much more aggressive cancer, and suddenly everyone was more attentive--especially my family and I.

But my post-op PSA remained low for a while, and when it started elevating again, I went through thirty-five daily radiation treatments at the Cleveland Clinic. Again, my PSA plummeted for a while. Then began rising again--and soon rising quickly.

Thus the quarterly Lupron injections.

As I've written here before, Lupron is not a cure; it is a finger in the dike. But my oncologist assures me that they have other drugs already waiting for me. And who knows what advances will occur in the next few years?

He told me today that this "undetectable" PSA could go on for some years. But maybe not. Still, he seemed encouraged by how my body has been battling the disease.

There are some other issues we're dealing with, Joyce and I: Lupron-related side-effects. Lower energy. Periods of depression. Periodic suffusions of heat (sometimes, I am soaking wet afterwards). Loss of libido. Can you imagine being in love--profoundly in love--but not being able to do much about it  but say so. We talked about some alternatives today, a discussion that, for TMI reasons, I'll not "share" just yet (if ever).

Meanwhile, I'm grateful that my numbers remain low, that I feel well enough to do many things I love, that I'm not yet in the miserable condition of other cancer victims whom I see every time we go up to Seidman. My "suffering" is minor, comparatively. And I grieve for those who must endure so much, much more.

But--most of all--I remain grateful for Joyce, who has held my hand in the twilight as we make our cautious, fearful ways through the tangled woods of human frailty.

**Amusing note: this site's spell-checker just suggested prestidigitator (one skilled in sleight of hand) for prostatectomy!

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