Posted 5/13/2015 2:57 PM (GMT -7)
Hello CADguy ---
Thankful to hear from you, since we have traveled some similar pathways, along with others who will respond along the way.
My oncologist now tests my PSA and also my testosterone every single month, without fail. The last time, the testosterone was at 26, I believe, from the FIRMAGON shots. I think my oncologist wishes the testosterone would drop below 20. We will see if the new ZOLODEX shot can drop the testosterone even lower. If not, then I guess I can go back on the original Lupron shots.
This last time, the oncologist also ordered a C.T.C. blood test --- it stands for circulating tumor cells. It had to be sent away to the Mayo Clinic to be read and assessed by a doctor there. My C.T.C. blood test read as zero, which was good news that there were apparently no circulating tumor cells in my blood. Some doctors are now using this test as an additional diagnostic tool.
Chemotherapy can be a rough and rocky road. Experiences with chemotherapy can really vary from one patient to another. I have friends that have struggled with various side effects. That being said, I was very fortunate, because my side effects were very mild with chemo treatments. I was able to work each day. My appetite stayed intact and I didn't develop mouth sores or neuropathy on my fingers or toes. I drank lots of water, took a walk most evenings, and went to work each day. Again, I know I was quite fortunate.
Because of the chemo, my white blood cells crashed, so they had to give me a shot of NEULASTA after each chemo treatment, to restore my white blood cells. This is a very expensive shot, but insurance covered it in my particular case. I took good care of myself during the chemo treatments, tried to eat properly, kept up a walking regimen, went to the gym a few times, drank lots of water, and so forth. I got in touch with a couple of other prostate cancer patients and we kept in touch while going through chemo together, and that really helped, too. If you end up going through chemo treatments, we can keep in touch this summer and into the fall through this website.
As far as results from the chemo --- I got a treatment every 3 weeks in my particular case. Bit by bit, the PSA lowered a little bit each time and worked the PSA down to the lowest level I had ever gotten. So that was encouraging. I finished the last treatment last fall right before Thanksgiving time.
However, since then, the PSA has been creeping up a bit. Now we have discovered that the lung nodules are beginning to re-appear in my lungs. They had resolved themselves a few months after I got diagnosed, thanks to the Lupron hormone shots. So now I guess I have to turn to chemo, in the hopes of reducing the lung mets and dropping the PSA again. So this time, it sounds like I have to undergo 6 months of chemo, which sounds daunting to me right now. Just when I was on the verge of finally needing a haircut again --- my hair fell out a few days after the first treatment. After I lost my hair, I just put on caps or dress hats for social occasions, when needed.
I really hope things go well for you. I know we have been on a similar path, from our postings here. If they end up recommending chemo for you, I can give you some additional advice, based on my own experiences that I learned over the course of the treatments. Once my oncologist recommended chemo treatments, we got started on them within that same week.
Thanks for keeping in touch,