I’ve gotten a new doc that I like a lot. He is Dr. Michael Franks. The PSA continued to spike on my last visit to 1.6. He said it looks more aggressive than previously thought. He recommended a hormone shot to bring down the numbers. After talking to some golfing buds who have done this, I was instantly reassured. One guy told me his numbers spiked to almost 10 and the hormone shot brought it almost back to zero. The only bad side effects are heat flashes, and possibly breast enlargement.
So I had Dr. Franks give me the shot. Its been 4 weeks now and I have not experienced any of the side effects. I have noticed some fatique in the afternoons. I have also noticed a weight loss but that may be due to the extra labor on the race car each night.
If you have been following this cancer blog, you will note that it has been 9 years since my surgery. I normally get an annual physical and blood test. Every year since my prostatectomy the reading has been less than zero or undetectible. This year, it was at .6. Obviously I was concerned that the cancer had spread. If you have read my previous posts, you will note that following the surgery I had 30 rounds of beam radiation. This was recommended because the cancer had spread outside the gland into the seminal vesicles.
I visited my new urologist today and had a new blood test. This test was .8 but the Doc said its just a number and a low one at that. I like this new doc. He told me that this is expected after so many years and that something else will kill me first. That took a lot of pressure off as I thought I would only have a few years left. (Well, I will if something else gets me first.)
Apparently, my treatment plan was well executed by the good docs at Hartford Hospital, Dr. Laudone and Dr. Salner. My new Doc, Dr. Sliwinski says a rise after two years is not so good, a rise after four years is still not good but a rise after six and eight years is actually not so bad. He told me he had an 81 year old come in with numbers in the 3,000 and he still lived another three years. (For reference, at this writing, I’m 71.)
So what’s next? I’m to have a CT scan computerized tomography to look for spread. Actually, he’d like to do a PET scan (full-body positron emission tomography (PET) scan using Choline C-11 Injection. However, due to restrictions by Medicare, he has to do the CT scan first. The CT scan will require swallowing the chalk junk. I was offered several flavors and chose the berry one. (YUM) Once we see what the spread is, we can do hormone therapy if needed. So, stay tuned.
In summary, I have received a lot of great comments on this blog by those who are dealing with this nasty disease. It has been a catharsis for me to write this and hopefully it will help others who may be concerned that their life is over. Yes, I have had other friends where it was not caught in time and they passed. I recommend the PSA test to guys over 50 who have a history of it in their family.
It’s been a while for any kind of post but here we go. I recently had my left hip replaced with a state of the art prosthetic. The procedure was done at VCU’s teaching hospital by Dr. Jason Hull. This is the first real surgery I’ve undergone since my prostate removal. I had an epidural and so was semi-awake during the operation. The doc also a golfer was a character and asked me if while he was replacing the hip should he do a little “tuning”. I asked him what he meant and he said, “Well you know, I could trim a bit here and there and give you a power draw or a power fade on your drive.” I said, “how about down the middle.” He said, “No problem.” (LOL)
Seriously, I was really impressed at the speed of my recovery. My operation took place February 14th (Valentines Day) and six weeks later, I’m back on the golf course. True, I have to relearn my swing timing, but its interesting that I seem to be standing more erect instead of leaning and my putting has improved. The most important part is that I’m pain free. I was quite miserable before the operation and if I stepped incorrectly, the pain was excruciating.
As far as the hospital is concerned, I could not have received better care. It was also interesting to review the hospital bills. I was quite surprised at the “list prices” submitted by the hospital and the actual payment provided by Medicare and my supplemental insurance. By the way, VCU is a city hospital and accepts patients from all walks of life. Medicare is a great deal for seniors so I am dismayed to learn that due to the Affordible Health Care Plan or “Obamacare” the cost will go from $99.00 a month to over $250.00 a month.
Anyway, I really recommend VCU and Dr. Hull.
Update: I had the hip done again by Dr. Hull but at St. Mary’s as he moved his practice there. Again, I was back playing within 7 weeks.
Its been a while so thought I would provide a quick update. We have finally moved to Richmond, Va where we are upgrading a small 2400 sq ft single floor. It’s almost finished-just waiting for the master bath sink and shower glass. Lots of work. I joined the seniors club at Birkdale golf club and try to play at least 3-4 times a week. My handicap is coming down. Health remains good so knock on wood, we hope the PSA stays low.
I’ll be back here again to keep everyone in the loop.
It’s been over a year since I posted anything about health but I’m hanging in there. The best news is that here it is another year and still my PSA is below readable levels. That’s great news! My next goal is 5 years out. On the work issue, another great milestone-retirement. I decided to hang it up after a great career in fire and security. I truly enjoyed my last 11 years with Honeywell and to celebrate, over 50 of my work friends gave me a great sendoff at the Inn in Middletown.
It’s now been 3+ months since my last day. We spent a couple of weeks at Hilton Head in November, one week looking for homes in South Carolina, (both in Charleston/Summerville area and Aiken) one week sponging off my sister Sandra in LaGrange, Georgia and one week helping Michelle and Zane with house items in Richmond. We also looked at homes in Richmond and found some nice areas. The house has been on the market since June and due to the lousy economy, we have not had too many lookers. We hope the spring and the government’s huge spending incentives will encourage some buyers.
Retirement certainly doesn’t mean no work. I continue to keep involved with fire and security issues as a consultant and have authored a few magazine articles for my friends at Honeywell Life Safety. It’s great as I keep my brain working and get to stay connected with old friends.
I also signed up for FaceBook and have used this to keep in touch on a personal level. That’s all for now but I promise to keep the blog up especially on the work side.
Seems like it’s been months since last I sat down to write something. Thought I would write an update to my post cancer treatments. Well knock on wood, I have passed my yearly visit to both my Urologist and Radiation docs with flying colors. PSA is below the limits of the test. For you newbies, that means I’m in the green health wise. All of us survivors continue to dread the 6 month PSA test. We certainly don’t look forward to it but are grateful to see the numbers stay way down.
Work is getting harder everyday because we all have to do more with less. We continue to do real well and it’s so satisfying to know that products you helped put together can save lives. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a marketing director for the Fire-Lite brand of Honeywell Life Safety. We make commercial fire alarm systems. The smoke detectors we use are made by our sister company System Sensor and are not the kind you buy in Home Depot. These are microprocessor based and constantly polled by our sophisticated, micro processor based panels.
A lot of folks think sprinklers save lives and are life safety devices. Not true. Sprinklers are only good for property protection. And, at best, can only save the shell of a building. Consider this, each individual sprinkler head is set to go off at a very high temperature caused only by a flaming fire. By the time a fire gets that hot, it’s way too late to get out of a burning building. Fires have to be detected in seconds, not minutes, that’s why only a smoke detection system can save lives. By the way, have you changed your home smoke detector batteries lately? I do it once every year. I also have a carbon monoxide detector in my family room. Every home should have one of these as this stuff is a silent killer. You can’t smell it, see it or sense it in anyway, and, it can be produced by a faulty furnace or other combustion source.
All I can say about this is the longer I live, the less patience I have.
Just visited my Urologist and received the good news. My PSA was again below .1 or unreadable. This is really good news especially since the false alarm I just posted. My doc says that typically, if your PSA is elevated after surgery, it means that the cancer has appeared elsewhere. He called the clean up radiation a “belt and suspenders” approach. We have been very aggressive in going after this disease. The doc said he had been astounded to find the cancer in both sides of the gland, through the exterior, into the seminal vesicles and into the prostate bed. The radiation made sure we killed off any remaining cells.
I don’t need to see him or get another PSA test for six months. Only time will tell, but I’m fairly optimistic that I’ll be playing golf for a while longer. Oh yeah! I didn’t get the Ford Mustang GT but did lease a new Buick Lucerne this past week. Ok so it doesn’t appeal to anyone under 60 but it has more goodies and toys than any car I have ever owned. I especially like the lady who talks to me when I push the ONSTAR button.
June 1, 2007
It’s now June 1st, 2007, only two weeks after finishing radiation treatments and I have another horror story worthy of a post. The scary part of having a prostatectomy is your next blood test.
I finished my last radiation dose on May 18th and started to get my system back into shape. I scheduled a general Dr’s appointment on May 28th so I can get my next prescription for Sinvistatin. This is a generic for Lipitor. Naturally I had to get a blood test to see where my Lipids were sitting. I was kind of hopeful that the numbers were lower since I had been taking Red Rice Yeast, recommend by my wife’s PA to bring down Cholesterol naturally. I went to get blood drawn on May 22, remember, this is only 4 days after my last dose or radiation.
I get into see my GP and he says, “Hey, your numbers look terrific. Your total number is 187. That’s great!” I told him I was taking the Red Rice Yeast and he said everyone has told him that this works great. He was going to get some for himself. He said everything else looked find and oh yeah your PSA is 7 but that’s not bad following a prostatectomy. Continue reading Yikes! My PSA is UP?
I promised to come back and write a few more words about the treatment if anything changed. It’s April 29th and I’ve passed the halfway mark in my treatment. I’ve had 20 days out of 35 days so only 15 more days to go! I’ve gotten into a daily routine and it seems like the days have gone quite quickly. Some of the physical changes have happened.
I wrote earlier that Terry had warned me of some of the physical changes that may happen. I now experience some diarrhea but it’s not excessive and if it gets out of control I only have to chew two Immodium tablets. (The generic brand works just fine.) I do have more urgency and frequency but again it’s nothing I can’t deal with. I get the weekends to sleep and take a break so that helps a lot.
Continue reading Update to Radiation Treatment
For those of you following my “Dealing with Prostate Cancer” epistles, this is the continuing saga. As I left off, we were relating how I was getting setup for therapy. Now I have actually started it and have had three sessions already. (Only 32 more to go!) So, Monday, April 2nd ( the day AFTER April Fools day) I showed up at The Hartford Gray Cancer Center at 11:00 to talk to Terry, the radiation nurse. What a nice person! Terry is one of those great people who is always happy. Guess you need to be that way in this business or you will not survive. While I was waiting, I talked to some of the other patients who I think were just about finished with therapy. They sounded like old friends but I knew they just met here at the radiation station. Guess you really get to know the folks that are scheduled near your time. I actually am scheduled for 7:15 AM so I will not see these folks again.
Terry turned me over to the zap girls that actually run big V. (I’ll remember their names after a few more visits especially since they are both good lookin!) Oh, forgot to explain that big V is the zapping machine. It is fairly imposing and is made by the Varian corporation so I started calling it Big V! I was ushered through an 8 inch thick door (that was a bit scary) and led over to the table. Continue reading Da Big V!