Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Back to Seidman Cancer Center

Seidman Cancer Center
Beachwood, OH
It was almost exactly a decade ago--December 13, 2004--that a urologist told me I needed to get a biopsy on my prostate gland. My family physician had noticed something during a routine physical, had referred me to the urologist, who then gave me the news. He did not seem worried--the test for Prostate Specific Antigen--PSA--had been in the normal range--but still, he said, we should check. And so, in January 2005, I had the biopsy (among the most unpleasant experiences of my life: I tried to recite "The Raven" in my head while it was happening, but he flew away very quickly). And then the news came: prostate cancer.

Well, as readers of these posts know, it was on to surgery (2005), radiation (2009), and then hormone-deprivation therapy (2013). The surgery had failed--as had the radiation. My PSA kept rising. But the quarterly injections of Lupron (which zaps my testosterone, the "food" of prostate cancer)--a temporary fix--have kept my PSA undetectable since my first blood test that came three months after the first injection in July 2013.

Last week I had my most recent blood test, and my PSA remains undetectable. Nearly a year and a half now. But I also know this is temporary: Lupron is not a cure; it's a delaying tactic. The cancer is clever. Figures things out. Adapts. Survives. (Curse you, Charles Darwin!)

Yesterday (Monday) I saw my oncologist up at the Seidman Cancer Center, and he remains encouraged. In fact, he held out the possibility that if my PSA remains undetectable in my next test (March 2015), he will try taking me off Lupron for a while. Just to see. He says my cancer is "behaving well"--which, of course, is a bit like saying that the invader in your home has been doing the dishes for you.

He also wants me to undergo a couple of bone tests (the cancer had been moving into my bones before Lupron interrupted that process), so after New Year's I'll be lying inside some scanners. I've done it before--several times--and it's more an inconvenience than a problem. Another hoop.

My symptoms remain fairly stable: no libido (no testosterone), periods of heat and sweating (though they seem more infrequent now--not the once/hour I have been experiencing), emotions near the surface (weepy, weepy boy am I), depression (why not?), much-diminished energy. And so on. I've also had some dizziness and instability lately, but I'm going to be seeing my family physician about those. Nothing too serious--just annoying. Could be Rx-drug related.

Before I left Seidman yesterday, I got my quarterly Lupron injection in the derrière. The only good thing about that? I couldn't watch--not that I wanted to.

Joyce remains my most potent weapon against all of this--holding my hand, encouraging me, holding my hand, holding my hand, holding my hand ...

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