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Posts tagged ‘prostate cancer’

I’m not at the cancer clinic today!

My last radiation treatment was yesterday. The nurses and techs congratulated me for sticking with the 40-day program. I told them I felt like I was being let out on parole. The main tech said, “Aw, it wasn’t that bad.” I told her it was the commute that was tedious because I had to drive 35 minutes each way. (Nothing like my one-hour Atlanta commutes in the old days.) I think I’ll probably end up being the most wild and crazy patient they ever had since I see the world differently and am liable to say anything–and did. (When they asked me what the doctor said about the chills I had recently, although he said it had nothing to do with the therapy, I told the techs he said somebody put a hex on me but I wasn’t allowed to say who it was.)

The treatments, which lasted about 10 minutes each, were done with one of the clinic’s three Varian Linear Accelerators. Very high tech. I’ll have a follow-up appointment at the clinic in a month, presumably to go over everything.

Hormone therapy continues with my next appointment in January, three months after the last radiation treatment. This takes away what the cancer cells need. It could be three to six months before we know about remission. The hormone therapy provides false readings on the tests until the therapy is complete.

A breakthrough with the MRI about five years ago that can see cancer cells based on the sugars surrounding them is not yet out of testing (presumably) and in the field. If it passes muster, it should make all or most biopsies unnecessary. And, for my purposes, would tell me exactly where I am right now.

The treatment program I’m following is usually successful. I got a certificate from the clinic saying I’d undergone that therapy. One of the nurses grabbed me by the hand and dragged me out into the waiting room where there’s a mounted bell on the wall, along with a plaque that says patients should ring this when they finish a therapy program.

I asked if there was any particular approved way to ring it. She said “no.” I looked at my watch and said, “It’s 2:30. In the Navy, that’s five bells,” and I proceeded to ring it briskly in the proper manner: Ding Ding. . .Ding Ding. . .Ding.

I heard a lot of applause, but have no idea whether or not there were any former sailors there who understood I gave the time I was leaving the clinic.

It’s nice to be done with this phase.

Malcolm

Thank you for not giving up

I feel somewhat guilty writing too often about my prostate cancer because, compared with the heartbreaking stories we hear about from some of our friends or via online articles, my cancer is–as of now–rather low key. We lost one of our best friends to cancer a few months ago. Her cancer was thought to have been cured, but it came back and there was nothing for it–other than hospice care. She stayed strong as long as she could.

When I mentioned on Facebook a week ago that my 40 days of radiation therapy had begun, one of my long-time online friends wrote, “Thank you for not giving up.” She’s a feisty New Yorker and deals with issues and events that are quite foreign to me–as I’m sure my Georgia farm life is to her–so we don’t communicate often. But this comment was almost too much for me to take in and to process.

It never occurred to me to give up even though my age is getting up there and I keep reading about people who are younger than I am passing away after having “long and happy lives.” If I were in a worst-case scenario in a hospital bed, I might say this kind of life just doesn’t cut it. But I’m not, thank the good Lord. Sure, the daily radiation treatments are a bit tedious and, like almost all medications and protocols, they include a hideous list of potential side effects.

One of the doctors at the radiation oncology center said I might start feeling a lot of fatigue in several weeks. I mentioned that when I was checking diets, etc. online, I read that while alcohol was okay, I might be too sleepy and tired to care about it. When I told the doctor this, her response was “one’s never too tired for a glass of wine.” I’m glad we saw eye to eye about that.

I wonder how many cancer patients do give up. How many of them think that no matter what they do, cancer will ultimately win. Maybe not today or tomorrow but–like our recently departed friend–sooner than one expects. According to the statistics, all men will eventually get prostate cancer if they live long enough. That sounds like bad software to me. So, I suppose I should feel honored to have lived long enough to get it. I don’t. I’m pissed off because it’s a lot of trouble and it costs a lot of money to treat. Also, radiation is a one-time thing. If the cancer were to come back, we couldn’t use radiation again.

I don’t see the logic of putting my family $100000000000000 in dept for treatments that would prolong my life at a low ebb for another six months. But that’s not where I am with this. Nonetheless, when Lynne wrote, “Thank you for not giving up,” I felt that living out my life mattered to somebody–in addition to my family–and that gave me a strong dose of positive vibrations, the kind we should feel for all who are in need since they are stronger than most cures.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the recently released “Special Investigative Report” that’s available in hardback, paperback and e-book editions.-

because people shouldn’t have to journey alone

Cancer Navigators is a northwest Georgia organization that provides a variety of support, direct help, and other resources to patients with cancer. Their tagline is “because people shouldn’t have to journey alone.” In addition to the American Cancer Society, CancerCare, and groups designated for specific kinds of cancers, perhaps your area has a state or regional organization that provides help. Our local group provides a weekly support group where people can share, learn, and get ideas.

In addition to support groups and retreats, there’s counselling, information about community resources, financial issues (including lack of insurance), and transportation problems. Many types of cancer include long periods of treatment, extended hospital time, and treatment costs that only a rich person could pay for. My prostate cancer is generally assumed to be usually survivable, but the daily radiation treatments over several months cost about $25,000 not including the hormone treatments. Fortunately, Medicare takes care of 80% of that.

There’s a strong likelihood, I’ll be cancer free by Thanksgiving. Many families and individuals see costs astronomically higher than that, often with little or no hope that the patient will ever be cancer free. Most of us have heard that certain things increase our likelihood of getting cancer. So, we have an option not to do those things. Things get muddled when the most dutiful people get cancer anyway and the most careless people do not.

I have a feeling a lot of people think that God, or perhaps fate in the form of a big wheel of fortune, determine who will be included in the next round of the National Cancer Center statistics that say, “The Burden of Cancer in the United States. In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.”

In spite of the advances in medical technology, I suspect many people (perhaps most) are fatalistic about improvements coming from research. Too many people are dying and the treatments cost more money than the living have. Perhaps such feelings keep most people from donating money to research and support groups unless a close friend or family member is affected.

Personally, I’m not overly worried about the prognosis for my treatment. I’m more aggravated about the hassle after having one easy ride (except for the last three years) most of my life with little to no interactions with doctors and hospitals. Yes, the words, “you have cancer” tend to get one’s attention. S/he wants to ask, “How long do I have?” or “How much pain is involved?” or “What percentage of the rest of my life will be spent in a hospital bed?”

Such things cross my mind, of course. How could they not? I like the phrase “because people shouldn’t have to journey alone” because I think a lot of people do face cancer alone. Friends don’t stop by because they’re superstitious like they might get cancer by saying the word or being in the same room with a person who has cancer. Treatment and the effects of the treatment curtail many activities, so some of a person’s natural interaction with others comes to a halt. When my parents and then my wife’s parents were old and ill (not with cancer), people said they’d stop by and check on them, but mostly they didn’t.

I guess those people feel like there’s nothing they can really say or do that will change the circumstances of a terminal patient. Plus, what they see tends to scare them into thinking “what if I’m next?” Better to run and hide, right?

I play with magic, write books about magic, and am generally a very superstitious person. But the whole idea of God or fate deciding who gets cancer (or anything else) makes no sense to me whatsoever. I believe in destiny, though not a destiny decreed by the gods, but a destiny we (perhaps) chose before we were born and that we control (consciously and subconsciously) that speaks to what we want to accomplish in this lifetime. That said, I suspect this entire prostate cancer hassle is something that I chose one way or another and that I’m supposed to learn or otherwise get something out of it. But that view is just my view. It doesn’t change the care people need or the help others can provide personally or via support groups.

The main thing, I think, is finding a way to “be there” for others who might need your help. They won’t tell you they need it because, well, who wants to say such things? As for me, please don’t stop by the house with a casserole, especially one of those with beans and onion rings and mushroom soup.  Look to the people next door and at the company where you work and the PTA where your kids go to school. They’re not lepers and they won’t infect you if you stop by to say “hello.”

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delivery trucks, Ingram & Amazon, CT Scans, and granddaughters

  • In yesterday’s blog, I speculated about when (or if) a lawn mower service and a lawn mower delivery truck would show up. Our old mower is going into to be serviced. It was supposed to be picked up between 9 a.m. and high noon. It was picked up at 4 p.m. A new mower was supposed to be delivered between 3 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. It showed up before lunch. So, I guess that evens out, delivery-wise. Now, if the old mower can be repaired, we’ll be able to use both mowers on the 3+ acres of grass and maybe keep up with it better.
  • If you dashed out to buy hardback copies of the three copies in my Florida Folk Magic Series on Amazon, you probably noticed that two of them are displaying a “no image available” graphic. One of the three is displaying that graphic on the Barnes & Noble site. The good news is, you can still buy the copies and when they arrive, the covers will not say “no image  available.”  I don’t know if Ingram is backed up because it’s having to pick up the slack now that Baker & Taylor has suddenly stopped supplying bookstores, or if Ingram and Amazon are experiencing a failure of communications.

Fortunately, a CT scan is not as loud as an MRI. – Wikipedia photo.

  • I spent the morning at the imaging clinic getting two CT scans. This is a follow-up to the indications of scattered prostate cancer cells from a recent biopsy. If any of you have gone through this, or a similar series of tests, you know there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. So, that meant four days waiting on the biopsy results and another four waiting to hear what the CT scans show prior to meeting with the doctor on Tuesday. For the scans, they injected dye or kryptonite or cyanide or something to provide contrasty pictures that will show how extensive the problem is. If it’s not too bad, the treatment will most likely be hormone injections.
  • My granddaughter Beatrice recently celebrated her sixth birthday. She had a party. I wasn’t there since she’s in Maryland and I’m in Georgia. Fortunately, we’ve been able to see Beatrice (Bebe) and her older sister Freya a fair number of times a year. And, their mother is pretty good about posting pictures of the girls on Facebook. My wife and I hope to visit the Gettysburg battlefield this year. If that works out, we’ll be several hours away from my daughter and her family and might be able to get together.

Once I know the treatment plan, etc. for the prostate cancer, I want to get back to working on the novel in progress, Dark Arrows, Dark Targets. The medical thing has been distrating me, so I haven’t made much progress on it. But soon, I hope.

Malcolm