Living Life One Extension at a Time - Extension One Part 1
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
One advanced prostate cancer survivor's story of living through incurable prostate cancer with one life extending treatment at a time.
Extension One Part 1
As I mentioned in my last blog I started ten days of radiation to my lower spine one week after being told in the ER I had prostate cancer. I was also started on Casodex which was my start of hormone therapy. The radiation oncologist put me on a high dose steroid to prevent any swelling around the area of the spinal cord during radiation. Because of that I was waking up and starting work at 4:00am. I had all kinds of energy. Radiation was five days of week first thing in the morning so I could get back to work. During my last week of radiation they started me on Firmagon shots and switched me from Casodex to Zytiga. This would be my hormone therapy for nearly two years. Prostate cancer feeds on testosterone, the hormone therapy's purpose is to take your testosterone away and also try to block the testosterone from getting to the cancer.
During those first few weeks there was a lot of questioning "Why me?". Even with having faith this question just happens. At that time I was doing contract work at a factory that I had previously worked at. I had a lot of friends still there. I got talking to one of these friends and saw he had something on his mind. It turns out he had a niece in Mexico that had a son that was in the hospital and she was pregnant. She had problems and ended up going to a different hospital where she lost the baby. If this wasn't bad enough when she went home she had to take her dead baby with her. In that area of Mexico there aren't any funeral homes and you're responsible for your own dead. My friend was trying to get money to her so she could have her baby buried. When I heard that I started crying, actually we cried together. At that moment I told myself I had nothing to complain about. What she was going through was far worse than what I was going through. That is when I accepted my cancer and knew I needed God to get me through this.
Side Effects and Results
One thing they don't spend much time on if any is discussing side effects of treatments. Taking your testosterone away just doesn't sound good and it wasn't. It causes fatigue, loss of muscle mass, ED, moodiness and even hot flashes! What did Beth say when I complained about the hot flashes, now you know what it's like. I often tell men when your wife gets hot flashes do not give her a hard time, they absolutely suck. Even though the side effects are tough the results from the treatment was great. My PSA started at 294 and in three months I was at 0.7 and it continued to drop.
Take a Break from Cancer
While doing some work at the same factory I was working at when diagnosed, I met a man that told me about a sensational organization that helps men with cancer. This organization is called Reel Recovery. They take men with any cancer at any stage and take them on a flyfishing retreat. You pay to get there and back and that's it. I decided to attend one in August. Montana was my choice for two reasons, the location was on the Yellowstone River just north of the park and my old friend and best man lives in Montana just a few hours from the retreat. Mike and I haven't seen each other in decades. I flew into Helena where he lives and we spent three days together and got caught up. He and his family showed me a great time. Then I drove down to the retreat where I met thirteen other men and the incredible staff that took care of us. The facility was a hunting lodge with seven cabins for us. They supplied everything, all the fishing equipment, meals and instruction on fly fishing if you had never done it before. We spent two and half days together not only fishing but also had several "courageous conversations" with a therapist where we learned to open up about our battles. It was an outstanding time.