I have appreciated in my limited time here, those of you who have archived your illness and recovery.
I had planned to also do so next week. But as I find myself in a waiting room, I find that I have time on my hands.
It has been just a few weeks since I was told by my family doctor that I had an elevated psa. I probably should have paid attention to it some time ago but I just didn't care enough I guess.
I think I just rationalized symptoms as ordinary aging.
Two years ago I was having heart/lung problems that took center stage. After a lot of trouble, a few weeks of treatment on an EECP (enhanced external counterpulsation) machine got me off nitro and got my heart beating correctly.
Then a year ago last March, my wife fell ill with what has subsequently diagnosed as Hashimoto's encephalopathy. A extremely rare and incurable autoimmune disease. She has needed a lot of care and with two kids left a home and business to run, I think I just didn't have the time to pay attention.
Suffice it to say when the PSA came back at 5.5, my doc thought I should be checked by a urologist. I feel fortunate in our rural setting to meet a really nice guy who had been a prof at Duke. After a DRE (weird how I can still say he is a nice guy), He scheduled me for a biopsy.
I did all the preps for that (that too was weird for this old wyoming boy) and went to the tests. They offered my a valium if I needed it and were surprised by the fact that I turned it down. As my wife doesn't drive since the seizures began, I told him that I didn't have time for it.
At that point since I study a lot, I felt it highly likely that I would have cancer.
It is weird how irrelevant I felt that it was at that point. I think you just become pretty matter-of- fact about these kind of things after a year of medical trips including Mayo with my wife.
The biopsy was really easy. I couldn't believe that it didn't hurt. Later in the day and the next day I felt a little pressure and fullness from the swelling but never any pain.
about 4-5 days later I got the call. It is strange how you can tell from the tone of voice and the first word what the conversation will be about.
He said that I did in fact have cancer and that I should come to the office and talk about where we go from here. I could tell even without the specifics at that point that it was worse than I expected.
I told my 2 grown children about it and tried to prepare them. My son took it very seriously and started to do research. My daughter although she was worried was 8 months pregnant and that took most of her time.
We also have a 17 year old son at home who is technically my stepson although I raised him. It was really hard on him, as he had been depending upon me to take care of his mom and him and also his youngest sister who is 10. (By now you have figured out that we have a blended family--I had custody of my two oldest when I got married inherited the best new son you could get and then my wife and I had one of ours, to make four).
Our 17 year old has taken it the hardest, although my grown son was really shaken.
At that point we didn't tell our ten year old anything.
My wife came with me to the doctors meeting where the facts were laid out.
Twelve samples in sexton pattern. 8 cancerous. Gleason score of 8 (4+4). PTI (percent tumor involvement) varying up to 70%. Some perineural invasion. Cancer in both sides.
We talk about options. I had already done a lot of reading, anticipating bad news. It was quickly apparent that several of the options were not possible. I had always liked the thought of implants as I had a relative who made them for people in a company he owned.
My doctor talked primarily about radiation, freezing and radical prosectomy. My wife liked the freezing technique as the doctor thought he could get a wider margin that way. My doctor suggested surgery because he thought he could save a few of the nerves in an area that the samples didn't show any cancer. He recommended against radiation at this point. His thinking is that he would like to save that for later, in the event that I need it.
I decided on the surgery.
Now that I have done even more research I think it is the right choice. First because I am going to have to be opened up anyway for a lymph biopsy anyway. I checked the pathology report including a picture of a sample and it could easily have been the picture used to show gleason grade 4. The labs were checked by 2 additional doctors. Gleason 8 is just the truth. The lab report was very complete. the worst cancer is found in the base of the prostate. By the research I have done that makes it worse, increasing the likelihood that it has breached the prostate capsule.
We scheduled the surgery for May 23rd. Before that, 2 blood draws, bone scan, contrast CAT scan, Surgical release from my cardiologist and pulmonalogist.
It was interesting as we were really busy and didn't have time for it, how we were able to keep moving on for a couple of weeks. Our dance recital was coming up (3 performances of our own version of Peter Pan, 3 dress rehearsals, 300-400 dancers, probably over 1600 people in attendance). Additionally our son graduates and we have a party planned. This is all within 10 days prior to surgery.
I was very "flat" about the news. Iwent home and went to work
But as the days progressed, I found it increasingly hard to function. I was having periods of fear and periods of sadness that made it hard to work. My wife as a result of starting treatment for her HE was beginning to be able to work again. Still I was having to do most of it. I found that I could hardly be out in public for very long at a time. I just couldn't handle 10-20 people all wanting something from me at the same time.
It used to be a kind of a rush. Not anymore.
I am also a minister and therapist. It was interesting to receive the diagnosis on a Friday and preach on Sunday. I didn't think that I could, but the weird thing is that it was really a very good thing. My church is so wonderful, that I found preachin (on suffering) and the fellowship, I was more refreshed when I left than when I started.
We had to beg my wife's parents to come help us as we were in way over our head. The day they arrived, my daughter was induced. Things happened very quickly as many of you know. My grand son had a major bleed in the right side of his brain and was life flighted to Denver Children's.
That is where I sit at this point.
the weird thing is that I haven't had interest in worrying about my health. It has been nice to spend this last week with my daughter, son-in-law, grandson --also ex-wife (not so good--but ok).
A couple of weeks ago with my numbers, I was keenly aware that things were not so good for me. Now I realize that I do not have time for cancer, and I definitely do not have the time to die. I will get better.
In regard to the oft stated --"be sure to take care of yourself"--I am not sure what that means. I can not be ok--if my family is suffering. I have no desire to do anything for "me". The thing that makes me feel joy and hope and strength is to love and care for my family.
And so I wait.
My oldest son has taken my surgery week off to come and take care of his stepmom. He will drive her to the hospital and take care of her and his baby sister (getting her to school--piano--etc). Innumerable people have surrounded us to take care of us.
It is well in our lives.
I will whip this thing
thanks for the support and the site. I go to it daily.
cancer in 8 of 12 biopsy samples
gleason score 4+4=8; up to 70% pti;
some perineural invasion
surgery scheduled 5/23/07