Living Life One Extension at a Time - Extension One Part 2
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.
Time for My Second Radiation Treatment
I believe it was in September 2019 that my radiation oncologist told me he would like to radiate my prostate since it was my largest tumor in my body. The preparations needed for this radiation provided some entertainment after the fact. They needed to put two gold markers into my prostate so that they could be used to target the tumor precisely. I also had SpaceOar Gel put in. This is a gel that separates the prostate from the rectum to help minimize radiation exposure to the rectum. This was all done in one appointment. I went to my urology clinic and was taken to an exam room so I could get naked and put on one of those lovely gowns. You know, the kind your butt hangs out of. Then they took me into the procedure room, I had no idea what to expect. When I walked in, there was a table to my right, with stirrups on it! My first thought was I was in the wrong room, not pregnant, what the hell was this for. Well, get up on the table, feet into the stirrups and slide your butt all the way to the end of table. There went all my modesty! And what did Beth say again, now you know what it's like. If that wasn't enough, I had to have a CT simulation also before the start of radiation. The rule when you do this and all your radiation treatments to the prostate is you have to have a full bladder. On the day of the simulation I must have over studied. My bladder was at the burst level by the time we got to the clinic. My lead radiation tech comes out and gets me and on the way back she tells me the radiation oncologist needs to talk to me. I'm thinking let's just get this over! The doctor tells me, oh by the way they will be giving me a catheter. I've never had a catheter and now a couple of young ladies will be doing my first. I'm also thinking I'm not responsible for what happens when you tap my bladder, it's at redline pressure. Well they only went up to the bladder so they could put a dye inside the urethra so it could be seen in the scan. The scan didn't take long and I'm ready to go to the bathroom. Wait, don't move we need to give you your tattoos. What, I was in the Navy for seven years and never got one. They gave me three little x's, one on each side and one on top. These would be used to initially line me up in the radiation machine. Now you can go to the bathroom. The treatments were uneventful, 5 days a week for four weeks. My last treatment was the day before Halloween. The lead tech enjoyed decorating for Halloween as you can see by the radiation machine becoming a monster for Halloween.
The Realization and the Goal
During my prostate radiation I had a discussion with the nurse practitioner that took care of all the advanced cancer patients. I asked what to expect in my future, she told me that the hormone therapy generally works for 18-24 months and then I would need go onto something else. This is when I realized that this is no sprint, it's a marathon. I decided I needed a goal, something I've never done before and something that would be hard to achieve. Four weeks after diagnosis there was a 5k run/walk held at my urology clinic. Beth and I decided to attend and so did Bonnie, our oldest daughter. Bonnie and I did the one mile walk. I decided to do some fundraising for the event and my radiology team asked me to be on their team. Surprisingly I ended up being the top individual fundraiser. This brings me to the goal. May 30th 2020 would be the next run/walk and I decided I would RUN it. Now I've never been a runner, never liked running and thought everyone that did it was nuts. But I thought what the hell I'm a 58 year old, out of shape, stage four prostate cancer patient, this should be easy.
Let the Training Begin and the First 5k
I decided to start training for the 5k in December. I found an app that fit me perfectly, it was "Couch Potato to 5k". That described my situation pretty well. This app has you enter data about yourself to estimate how much time it should take you to reach a 5k and customize your training schedule. It said eight weeks for me. I thought I would be conservative and give myself three months to complete it and then I would have three months to improve my time. That thought completely fell through! It took me two weeks to just get through week one. By the end of December I felt like I wasn't getting any where with the app so I changed to walking on the treadmill everyday. At first it was less than two miles at a medium pace. Eventually I made the 5k distance at this pace. Then I started slowly increasing the pace. I spent 30 out of 31 day in January on the treadmill. To cut to the chase, it took me all six months to get to being able to run a 5k. As you know Covid hit and run/walk did not occur but on May 30th my daughter Becky and her husband came up to our little town and the three of us did a 5k around town. This was my first full 5k run, my goal was to do it in 37 minutes. I made it happen in 36:59!