Dawn Reader

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Back to Seidman Cancer Center--Twice

Seidman Cancer Center
University Hospitals
Beachwood, Ohio

Friday, December 2

This was not one of the most pleasant days of my life. Prior to my next visit with my oncologist (see below) I had to drive (with Joyce, thank heaven) up to Seidman and go through a little bit--(1) a series of blood draws (PSA and some others), (2) a CT scan, (3) a full bone scan. The blood draws were at 9:30 a.m. and by the time other other procedures were over and we got home, it was a little after 2 p.m. One of the injections, by the way, is radioactive--for the bone scan. (I should have Spidey-powers by this time!)

Nothing really hurt (except for the "pinch" of the injections). It was just the customary psychological worry that darkened all the hours. The CT scan is pretty quick--and it had a funny moment. I was getting rid of all the metal I was carrying (keys, ballpoint, change, etc.), and I discovered in my back pocket ... a pair of pliers! I'd been fussing around in the basement the previous day and had totally forgotten I'd stuck the pliers where I did. The technician got a kick out of it too--told me it was the first time she'd seen that!

The bone scan takes much longer: 30-40 minutes, during which time I have to lie perfectly still while I ride back and forth through a huge scanner. At times I shift position so that the scanner can get a different look at me. I've had the procedure several times before (at Cleveland Clinic and at UH Seidman), so I know what to expect. And I was ready. I silently rehearsed one of the batches of poems I've memorized--prefaced with "The Gettysburg Address," my latest. I'd tried to get it ready for Thanksgiving to impress my grandsons, but I had some significant botches that day, botches that, I guess, confirmed what Logan and Carson already know: Grandpa (they call me "Silly Papa" or "SP") has some ... issues!

Some previous bone scans have revealed that my prostate cancer is trying to move into my bones. It actually got a pretty good foothold in a rib before my oncologist put me on Lupron, which put the metastasis on Pause--but only on Pause. There is no cure. My PSA has started to rise again, so he is watching me even more closely now--and will add a medication in the near future, a drug (bicalutamide) that mirrors the effects of Lupron, a drug I will be "enjoying" (via quarterly injections) for the rest of my life. Bicalutamide, thank goodness, comes in a daily pill. And it should, again, put the cancer on Pause.

In case you didn't know--or have forgotten--Lupron zaps testosterone and thus kills libido, makes me more emotional (weepy, not angry), greatly reduces my energy, makes it very difficult to keep my weight under control, relocates body fat, produces infusions of heat (misnomer: "hot flashes"--they don't flash; they pervade, slowly, surely)--generally a very pleasant drug that has profoundly altered my life.

I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer late in 2004. Had surgery (prostatectomy) in June 2005. The cancer came back. I had six weeks of daily radiation treatments in the winter of 2009. The cancer came back. I started on Lupron about two and a half years ago. The cancer came back.

So here we are.

As I write this (Sunday afternoon), I know nothing about any results. I'm meeting on Monday morning at 10:20 with my oncologist to go over them--and to find out what my body is doing to me now.

Monday, December 5

A mixture of good (mostly) and bad (a little). My PSA has crept up from 7.6 to 8.6 since late October. Of course, I should have NO PSA (I have no prostate gland), so each little tick upwards indicates increased cancer activity--just a-lookin' for a home (it loves the bones). My scans were generally good--except for a spot in the center of my spine, a spot my oncologist is going to keep an eye on though not worry about just yet. (That's my business, worrying all the time!)

We had to wait forever to get my Lupron shot--some sort of insurance hassle, finally resolved, so I got to answer the nurse's questions about Thanksgiving as she was jamming the needle in my right rear cheek! Pain and turkey soup ...

The other hassle--scheduling for next time, a process that takes far longer than it does to meet with the oncologist.

But--considering how worried I was over the weekend, I feel pretty good about things--at least until the next round of tests commence in January. Meanwhile, I'll try to forget it all--and to continue to be grateful for so much. As I've written many times before, I am humbled in that waiting room at the cancer center; I am incredibly fortunate to have beside me the great heart of Joyce Dyer.

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