Flag On The Play

Today marks my first visit with my new oncologist who has taken over my case from the radiation oncology team. I actually ran into my radiation oncologist in the hallway and he asked how I’m doing, I give him the results of last week’s previous bone scan and his face says it all. Or his nurse perhaps summed it up best when all she could muster was “oh shit”.

Well, I’m glad radiation is behind me, that was not a very enjoyable experience. Time now for new doctors and new options.

I’m waiting in one of the consult rooms to meet my new team. He arrives, accompanied by 3 other doctors, and they begin to go through my medical history, based on both my chart and my recounting of my family medical history. We discuss the various treatment options available to me, their side-effects, and if I have people in my life that can support me through the next phase of this journey.

Then the bomb drops.

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The Doubling or v=d/t

Today’s shitty news, or perhaps it should be called deductive reasoning, should not be heard or construed while listening to Bon Iver or Azure Ray.

Wow, can music ever affect your mood.

But for every action there is an equal and powerful reaction, hence why there is balance in this world. If one song can totally get you down, change the playlist. Don’t expound energy trying to swim against it, that’s what shuffle is for on your iPod.

So the news is that after only a 3-month hiatus my PSA is starting to climb back up. This is troublesome not only for the metastatic lesion on my spinal column, but because I’m under total hormone ablation and my testosterone is fully suppressed. Medical translation, this should not be happening to me. In the original discussions with my doctors when I was diagnosed, and when I came up with the idea for “A Year Of Suck”, it was surgery to get rid of the cancer, followed by radiation for clean-up, and hormone therapy for maintenance. Simple, they were throwing the book at me because I was young and had an aggressive type of cancer, but after a year it was supposed to get simpler, now I seem to be entering an episode of Home Reno Hell.

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“The Fight Begins … Now”

I get a call from my surgeon’s office, they ask me if I can come in Friday afternoon at the end of his workday. It’s been 3 days since my bone scan. I answer as enthusiastically as I can that I will be there, 445PM.

It’s a cool, crisp autumn day, with a strong wind blowing from the north-east. I decide that I need a new mindset to challenge what I feel is already happening in my body, and that I can no longer sit passively and let things happen to me. The hospital is about 12 miles from my home so I decide to cycle there. When I arrive 45 minutes later, I’m a sweaty mess, but I feel great. The nurse looks at me like I’m a freak, but no matter, this is going to be part of my new attitude, from this point on, no sitting around waiting for things to happen. I get ushered into the doctor’s office and he begins to tell me what I already know, that there is a metastatic lesion in the middle of my thoracic spine, located at the T6 vertebrae.

He offers consolation and expresses how sorry he is, especially in light of all I’ve been through already in this battle, surgery, radiation, hormone ablation, nothing seems to be working at all, and the hits just keep coming. We discuss the various treatment options, chemo with bisphosphonates, regular chemo, radiation as a palliative resort, and the option to pursue some treatments at this hospital or at the cancer centre where I’ve been accessing my treatments so far.

I thank him for the speedy access to the bone scan, and he begins to set up the referral to the oncological team at the same hospital where I underwent radiotherapy.

The cycle home is fast, silent, and full of the weight on my mind. I am truly fucked ! Stage 4 has arrived, and there’s not much I can do about it.

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The Suck Of Waiting

I’ve read countless articles and listened to multitudes of interviews regarding how the stress levels for cancer patients rise dramatically leading up to the periodic consultations or annual check-ups if they’re lucky enough to have gone into remission.

Now I understand why, until recently I was calm, confident and well versed in my treatment plan and my condition. Now i’m facing this rising PSA, a treatment regimen that has neared it’s conclusion and has basically run out of silver bullets.

I won’t lie, my nights have been a little sleepless as of late.

I’ve given Western Medicine every opportunity to throw down on this disease, but it appears that things are not going my way 3 rounds into the fight.

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Mercury in Retrograde, But PSA Rising

So the summer has been a glorious one, though I have not celebrated my passage through the hallways and corridors of cancer-care. My PSA is low, but not zero, the technicians and doctors have told me I should celebrate, but things just don’t feel right. I have a scheduled 3-month follow-up with my radiation oncologist and tell him the same thing, that I have this nagging feeling in my bones that something is not right.

He says that it’s all in my head, that I had a successful radio-oncological intervention, but if I’d like to get a CT, Bone or MRI scan it would take a few months to get one. I counter that I could get one in a week or so at my other hospital where I had my surgery and make that plan go into effect.

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Guy Talk

Had an interesting offer the other night, which was to appear on a radio talk show to discuss prostate cancer and it’s effect on my psyche. When I first found out I had this disease, I made a decision to be open about it and to willingly discuss the trials and tribulations that I was undergoing in an effort to stave off further people from having to go through what I was going through, whether it be from late diagnosis, shame, fear or whatever other obstacles men can dream up to ignore the realities they face.

I remember once surgery was decided as the first round of offense by my surgeon and I. Being a film producer I offered him the opportunity to use it as a teaching tool, to film it, to have students around, whatever he thought could help others, I was all for it. In the end he suggested I help out at a later date, once I’ve healed and moved on from this chapter.

Immediately after my surgery, I was surfing the internet and came across a request for men to share their stories on the Prostate Cancer Canada website. I thought, what a wonderful opportunity in light of all the crap I had been subjected to in the last little while, and who better to share a story than me, a guy in his early 40’s, media-savvy, not afraid to share the most intimate and gory details of what can happen to the uninitiated,well, you get the picture. At first, the interest over the telephone was keen, and a meeting was set-up via telephone. Then that meeting was postponed, a further call from me went unanswered. I’m now thinking to myself, WTF?

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