Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Return to Seidman Cancer Center

Seidman Cancer Center
Beachwood, Ohio
Yesterday was my regularly scheduled visit with my oncologist--a visit preceded by some blood work: a metabolic panel (all basically okay--sodium a tad low) and a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test.

A little reminder/history. Late in 2004 a biopsy on my prostate revealed the presence of cancer. It didn't seem too worrisome a number (Gleason score of 5--on a ten-point scale), so I finished the school year teaching at Western Reserve Academy, then, almost exactly a dozen years ago, had a prostatectomy (removal of the gland) at Cleveland Clinic.

The bad news was swift: My biopsy had been wrong: My Gleason was a 9--very dangerous. But my subsequent PSA measurements came back "undetectable" for nearly two years. Then ... the score began rising, and soon it was time to act again. In January 2008 I underwent daily radiation therapy down at the Clinic for six weeks.

My PSA dropped--then began climbing again early in 2010. It continued rising--accelerating, even--and so in July 2013 I began quarterly injections of Lupron (a drug that kills my testosterone--the "food" of prostate cancer). All was good for a couple of years--"good" now a very relative term. Lupron has permanently altered my life. (Low energy, depression, heavy sweating periodically, total loss of libido, etc.)

But in September 2015 my PSA reappeared, started rising. In April this year I went on a second testosterone-killing med: bicalutamide. My PSA had reached 18.67. A number that shows the cancer was back in business--serious business.

So ... I was concerned about the test result yesterday. But my score had fallen--to 12.9, Not awesome, but, hey, in prostate cancer, score down is always better than score up!

My oncologist just wants me to keep doing what I'm doing--and did not schedule any additional bone scans (prostate cancer loves to move into the bones--as mine had begun to do), and I will see him in mid-August. And I'll have another PSA blood test just before I see him.

Yesterday, I asked him "What's next?"

He said there are some other oral tablets I can take--then ... chemo.

But all of these things--I well know--are delaying tactics. Temporary roadblocks. There is no cure for me. And cancer is a most determined self-driving vehicle, one that is totally unafraid of crashing through roadblocks.

So ... I'm going to keep on doing what helps. Exercising most days. Eating well/right. (Except for a rare visit to Stoddard's Frozen Custard in Kent, a place we've patronized for nearly fifty years; we went yesterday evening to "celebrate" the day's decent news. We'll probably not go again this summer. Well ... maybe once or twice more?)

And I will continue to try to do the things I love for as long as I can. Reading, writing, being with Joyce, our son and his family. I am, I know, a rich man in all the ways that really matter.


My oncologist was concerned about my continuous dizziness/wooziness (of which I've written here). So far ... no answers from any of the specialists I've seen; I see a neurologist next week. So maybe then ...?

Until then, I have to remain very careful about all of my movements. I've begun working out again--very, very prudently so. No quick movements here and there. I ride the exercise bike. Walk a mile of laps. Do 100 pulls on the rowing machine. Do some curls. But I move around like recently awakened Rip Van Winkle: What is this world where I've found myself?


  1. Dan- I hope you keep posting about your journey. It's refreshing to read your posts as I find them an important key for all of us to learn of your journey. It's the same reality based quest for meaning that is the best of human curiosity. We can be with you on your journey to give you silent "atta boys". Keep up the good work of discovery.

  2. You have been on my mind lately. Glad I jumped on here to catch up, and here of your "good"news yesterday.
    Thinking of you- Brooke (Estis) Bleyl

  3. My oncologist was concerned about my continuous dizziness/wooziness (of which I've written here).
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