Friday, December 21, 2018

Cancer blog 12/21/2018

Well, I finally finished my radiation treatments for my prostate cancer! Yesterday was my 44th and final one.

I have to be honest here and say that when I first found out that I had stage 3 prostate cancer I was scared! I was scared for myself of course, but I think that I was more scared for Linda. We’ve always been there for each other; through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, in the good times and the bad times. Just like the marriage vows say, we were there. All of a sudden, the thought crept into my mind that I might not be there when she needed me.

Also, I was afraid that I might not be able to see my granddaughters grow up. It was possible that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to spend time with my 2 sons and my daughter-in-laws from time to time.

Hell; I didn’t know what I was scared of, but I WAS scared.

My final visit with the oncologist was heartening, thankfully. He said that he considered me in remission and that all I would have to do is keep getting the shots to kill my testosterone every 3 months and get my PSA checked at the same time just so that they could be sure that the cancer didn’t come back.

My final visit was a relief, but at the same time kind of sad. I grew to know all the technicians, the woman who checked me in and several of the other patients. Now I wouldn’t be seeing them anymore. I gave the technicians a card to pass around to everyone there; thanking them for everything they did for me. And, in return they gave me a diploma that they all signed with well wishes. So, all in all, it was a great but sad day,

Also, this week, we got another 4-figure bill for treatments. I do believe that we will be able to meet our insurance deductible!! The bad part is that it’s a week and a half from year end. Oh well; such is life.

I am hoping against hope that now that the treatments are over that I can get back to whatever passes as normal for this old man. I’m struggling to stay awake as I write this in fact. I still am feeling rather weak also. Another bout of the runs the past few days hasn’t helped my attitude either.

I just want to be able to start making some money to help pay the bills!!! I have every hope that at least by the end of the year, or the beginning of next year that can happen.

As always, I thank all of you who are reading this for your well wishes and for keeping both Linda and I in your thoughts and prayers!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cancer update 12/11/18

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook may have noticed that I’ve been doing a countdown on there. Well, no countdown today because I got bad news from my radiologist. I had thought that I was down to 4 more treatments to go, but he informed me that I was going to have to go through 44 treatments, not 40!

Originally, he had said I would be having 25 treatments, then a few weeks in he switched it to 40 because I was a ‘Big Guy’ and the treatment he had originally intended to use wasn’t feasible. Now, he informed me that it was going to take 44, not 40. I am upset to say the least, a little disheartened and slightly confused. How can a doctor not keep their patient fully informed?? I just don’t understand it.

Anyway, I feel okay. Still very tired, somewhat weak and am concerned because my blood sugar has been running high. I spoke to the radiologist about the blood sugars, and he said it shouldn’t be due to the radiation treatments. He did say that it may be due to the injection that they give me to kill my testosterone. I have a call into my regular doctor and am waiting on an answer.

Tomorrow I will update my countdown to reflect the correct amount of treatments left. Until then, hold a good thought for me please. And, thank all of you for your good wishes!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Cancer update 11/30/18

Well, today marked 6 weeks down and 2 weeks (10 treatments) to go!! The end is in sight, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to getting off this merry-go-round. They have begun to concentrate solely on the prostate.

I’m still experiencing the same problems; occasional runs and being extremely tired. I slept 9 hours last night and fell asleep in the recliner today for over an hour. Even so, I’m yawning up a storm as I write this. I think that is the thing that bothers me the most. I just have no motivation, am super tired constantly and still am feeling rather weak. All these things add up to my being unable to do my part-time job, wreaking havoc with our funds.

We got our first bill from the cancer center and paid it. Having done so we have decided to have a family treasure hunt of our attic tomorrow afternoon, hopefully finding some items that we can turn into cash to replenish the old bank account.

It will be a family thing because they know that if they don’t help, their huge inheritance will end up being enough to grab a burger and fries…..MAYBE!!! I’m kidding of course, but it does need to be done. Linda said she’s been wanting to do this anyway because neither of us remembers any more what the HECK is up there. I’m positive that there are remnants of my childhood and other items from then until now that we put up there for ‘safekeeping’ or to make room for the new stuff that we bought along the way.

So, anyway, if you don’t hear from me for awhile it’s because we found a missing Rembrandt or Gaugin or other priceless art treasure and have moved to some exotic location! It might be Las Vegas, or New York, or maybe the huge metropolis of Denton, Nebraska.

Keep a good thought for us; we appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cancer update 11/21/18

Well, today was day 25 of 40 (that means that I’m 5/8’s of the way through my treatment schedule for those of you who are mathematically inclined). There’s good news and also some bad news.

First, the good news. My doctor told me that as soon as I finish my treatments, he will consider me to be in remission. Also, there will be no follow-up CT scans unless the periodic PSA tests show something abnormal, which he has no reason to expect will happen. I will have the PSA tests every few months.

He also informed me that we have begun the second phase of my radiation treatment. The first phase, which we just completed, was a broad treatment of the entire pelvis. It was to ensure that any cancer which had spread to the lymph nodes (which he didn’t think had happened) was taken care of first. Now, the second phase is more focused on the prostate itself. We’ve gone from a shotgun to a sniper rifle, as it were.

The not-so-good news begins with the fact that I have begun to feel a bad effect from the treatments. I have started to suffer bouts of the ‘Tijuana 2-Step’. When I informed them of this, they said that was perfectly normal and to try Immodium. They also said if that didn’t cure the problem that they can prescribe something stronger. So far, it has worked so I’m hoping we don’t have to go to prescription drugs.

Secondly, we had an unexpected large expense this week. The 65 foot tall pin oak in front of the house and beside the driveway had to be removed. We were experiencing large branches and even limbs falling constantly any time that we had even a decently strong wind. I called a tree service to come and trim up all 3 of the trees that we have left (the fourth one was badly damaged in that October snow storm we had several years ago and came crashing down into the back yard a few years ago. Luckily it missed the house). They informed me that this tree needed to be removed because it was dying. I hadn’t noticed it before, but the tree had begun to lean and the upper parts were becoming sparse; very few healthy limbs and branches and VERY few leaves. After lengthy deliberation I figured that the tree was approximately70’ish years old, since our house was built in 1947. So, Monday the tree service crew came out and cut it down and also trimmed the dead and low-hanging branches and limbs from the other 2. They returned Tuesday and ground out the stump, which I was surprised to see was probably 5 feet across. Anyone need some mulch for free (our youngest son took the firewood)??? So, $3700 later we have a lot more sunlight and don’t have to worry about limbs (or even the entire tree) falling on the car or the house.

We did experience a little good fortune this past week when my sister-in-law brought over a nice big lasagna for us to enjoy last Wednesday. It was delicious!!! Those of you who know my taste in food will not be surprised to hear that I added some red pepper flakes to mine, as I tend to the spicy side of all meals whenever possible.

The last part of the bad news this week came shortly after our lasagna was delivered. Unfortunately my wife suffered a severe set-back to one of her many health problems and I had to take her to the ER. After some testing, they kept her. She didn’t get out until Saturday after a LOT of tests. She’s home now and on the mend, so that’s a great thing. She’s very worn out, but that is to be expected.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful that she is home with me where she belongs. Also, I am feeling fairly good, all things considered. We are planning on going over to our oldest son’s house for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow as long as she is feeling up to it. Please keep all of those who aren't able to have Thanksgiving with their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

To all our friends, we cannot thank you enough for your thoughts and prayers. We do ask that you keep them coming, especially for my wife.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Cancer update 11/13/18

So, today I had the 19th radiation treatment for my prostate cancer. Yesterday after my treatment I visited with the doctor. I asked him about a couple of symptoms that I am experiencing, more fatigue and a new problem; weakness. He said that both are normal. The weakness, which he correctly mentioned were in my hips and shoulders are most likely due to the shot that I get to kill my testosterone. He said that if the problem continues that they may have to cut back to continuing the shots for only 18 months, rather than the 24 to 36 months that were originally planned.

I also got another surprise change in my treatment plan. I told him that I only had 7 more treatments to go, and he corrected me; telling me that I was going to have to go through the complete 40 treatment course. Evidently, since I’m a “big guy” in his words, the higher dosage of radiation tends to burn the skin and does not penetrate sufficiently as it would on a smaller person. He had thought that someone had told me and apologized. Needless to say, the apology did not make me feel any better. Instead of just a little over a week before being through, I now have to wait until December 14th for my last treatment. At least, I HOPE that will be the last day! I will have to have a new CT scan and more tests to ensure that it is gone or cured.

I’m sleeping 9 or 10 hours a night, interrupted by a couple of trips to the bathroom each night, then I tend to doze in my recliner off and on the rest of the day. My trip to get my treatment daily is pretty much my only excursion from the house, other than our Saturday errands or to get prescriptions from the pharmacy. Obviously, this has killed my part-time job; and that worries me greatly. While I was at the doctor’s office, I asked why I hadn’t received a bill for my treatments or visits with the doctor yet and was told that they send out one after I finish up. I suppose that it doesn’t matter much whether I get one BIG bill or a bunch of little ones, so we’ll see about that when the time comes.

All in all, I feel fairly good all things considered. I’m 65, so I don’t expect too much anyway. The aches and pains that go along with my age just serve to remind me that I’ve been lots of places and done lots of things. I’ve got a fantastic family and lots of people rooting for me, so I know that I can and will beat this thing!

Thank you for visiting my blog, and again I can’t thank everyone enough for the kind words and well wishes. Your support means more to me than I can ever repay.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Cancer update 10/28/18

This past Friday was my 7th radiation treatment for my prostate cancer. I also had my first meeting with my radiation oncologist. So far, I haven’t felt many side effects to the treatments and the ones I have experienced were fairly mild. But, he told me that normally side effects don’t show up for the first couple of weeks.  They will just start seemingly out of nowhere, and there is no way to predict if and when they will happen, or what they might be. So, I’ve got that to look forward to.

I will admit that this weekend I am feeling more tired than ever. I slept through the entire half-time and third quarter of the Nebraska game, and my family will tell you that is nothing short of amazing; completely out of character for me. It seems to be progressing in fact, and is starting to bother me. This fatigue is beginning to cut into my part-time job, and with the bills starting to come in for the cancer, we can’t afford to be without that supplemental income. I also am starting to get the more frequent urination that they warned me about, even getting up 2 or 3 times during the night where it used to be only once in awhile.

I have an article that I need to get done so that it can get into Flat Out magazine, and I talked to the subject a few weeks ago about it. I haven’t been able to even get started on it. Heck; I’ve put off this blog post for 2 days now!!!

So, it boils down to the fact that we’re 7 treatments down, 18 to go (hopefully). As long as I don’t start experiencing problems with the treatment, I’ll be done in a little under 4 weeks! I have no idea what comes after that, but we will handle it as it comes.

Thanks again for everyone’s concern and well wishes. It means a lot to Linda and I.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cancer update 10/11/18

I know it’s been awhile since I updated everyone on my cancer battle, but that is because there was nothing new to pass along until today.

I had thought that I was going to begin my radiation treatment, but instead I got 3 tattoos!! No dragons or butterflies, but 3 black light visible ones to direct the technicians when I do start my treatment next week.

First, they put me on a table and put a Styrofoam block between my feet, then used a big rubber band to lock my feet in position on either side of the block. They placed what I can only describe as a large pillow under my legs. They then used a vacuum to evacuate whatever was inside of the pillow in order to mold it to my legs. They said they would use the pillow each time I went in for treatment to help me hold still while they apply the radiation. Next came my 3 tattoos; one on each hip and one on my abdomen. Then, they ran me through a scanner, not unlike the one I had my 2 CT scans in. They ran 1 scan, checked it and then ran another because they were not happy with the first. I probably was on the table a total of a half hour, but it wasn’t too bad.

After the doctor approved the scan we discussed how the treatments would go. First of all, I have to come in with a full bladder; I can’t go for 2 hours beforehand! That’s no easy assignment for us old guys, let me tell you!! The doctor said there were 2 options for the treatments. Either the normal 8 week course (40 total treatments) or an increased, more concentrated dose for just 5 weeks. He said that in the last 2 years studies have shown that the shorter course is equally effective as the 8 week one. We decided to start with the 5 week course and see how I tolerate it and how it affects me. If there are no problems, we’ll stick with it; otherwise we’ll have to switch to the lower dose and take longer.

Dr. Stavas asked how I’d been feeling, and I told him tired with a capital T!!! I sleep 8 hours or more but still have to take an hour to hour and a half nap every day. I am just constantly worn out!! He told me that is normal, and the longer that I am on this medication to kill the testosterone the worse it will get. It’s been bad enough that I’ve only been able to work at my part-time job 3 days out of the last 2 weeks, and that is so frustrating I can’t tell you!!!! As for side-effects of the treatments, he said the most likely is urination problems like frequency and urgency. Since I drink nothing but water all day long, with a total of around 200 ounces a day, that is going to be a biggie!!!!! But, if that’s the worst that happens, I can handle it. I just hope the toilet can!!!!!

My first treatment will be next Thursday and continue every week day. If I can stick with the 5 week plan I will be done 1 week before Thanksgiving. I’m hoping that I can tolerate it well enough to make that happen. Hold a good thought for me please that is how it goes.

I want to thank everyone for their concern, thoughts and prayers so far and ask that they continue. I’m not scared, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. I’ll keep you all advised as soon as treatments start.

Thanks for stopping by!!!