Friday, August 10, 2018

5 Years on Zytiga

   My how time flies. It is August already. As of the first I have begun month number 60 on Zytiga. My last Oncology appointment was July, 24. My numbers remain undetectable. I continue to be amazed by the overall success I have experienced throughout the course of the last 12 years. 
   There were some changes made at my last appointment. I will no longer be taking Zometa for bone density. Apparently the latest studies have shown that 2 years is the optimal duration to receive Zometa. Any longer than that and it is possible the drug can begin to weaken your bones. I have been on biphosphonates for almost 5 years. Doh!

   I did not see my doctor but rather the P.A. I am fine with that as my disease is stable.

  Some of the questions I had however could not be answered by her. We discussed going off treatment but she said I must discuss that with the Doctor. My next appointment is not until November but it will be with the Doctor and we will discuss those options at that time. 
   I am not sure how and when it happened but I have grown very complacent in regards to cancer. I cannot remember the last time I reviewed clinical trial data. I have been too busy living life. 

We have spent much of the summer as we always do. On the water! Since the end of May, there have been very few weekends at home. I have spent as much time as possible learning to wakeboard better. My goal was to complete a backflip by summers end but after my last crash I am rethinking that goal. Wake boarding might be a lot slower than Slalom Skiing but the wipeouts hurt far worse. Imagine traveling at 25 mph and having your feet suddenly stop. Ouch!

   Two weeks ago my  sweetheart and I became empty nesters when our 20 year old decided it was time to fly away. She lives a mere 8 miles away but I cannot believe the difference in our lives. We have never experienced having the house to ourselves. It is so peaceful. We are finding out what it would have been like had we met in our teens. It has been kind of fun.

A few weeks ago my adult daughter came up from Texas for an extended visit. She is back home now but while she was here, I taught my granddaughters to waterski. 
   I am so thrilled to still be here to share my life. It has been an amazing 12 years. At the time of diagnosis my granddaughters were not even born. Now my eldest is 12 Years old. My life is filled with love and adventure but also with sadness at times. I found out only 2 days ago that I will soon be losing another friend to this disease. It makes me so angry. We need a cure for this disease. Until we have a cure, I will do my best to be here to share a message of hope. One thing is certain. We all die. Not everyone truly lives. I am happy to say that my friend learned early in diagnosis to live his life. I encourage all of you to do the same. Do not waste a single day of this remarkable gift we call life. Todd


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Survey opportunity. $50 Amazon gift card reward.

I just took a really simple survey and received a $50 Amazon gift card for doing so. They are looking for 15 more persons to take this survey. Qualified persons are prostate cancer patient advocates who can speak about metastatic prostate cancer. You do not have to have metastatic prostate cancer. They must also be willing to call and record their answers. Once they have called and reported their answers they will be paid eight $50 Amazon gift card. It was super easy. I think there may have been 10 questions. I will post the link below. Simply click the link and follow the instructions.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

12 Years

Today is my 12 year anniversary since diagnosis. I find myself thinking “WOW, has it really been 12 years.” It has! 12 amazing wonderful years. 12 Years I was not suppose to have. Time has flown by. Nothing much has changed and yet everything has changed.
   When I was diagnosed the future was uncertain. It still is but life goes on. At diagnosis my PSA was 3200  and metastasis was everywhere. Today both PSA and Metastasis are undetectable. I have been on 6 different medications over the years. I have had tremendous success with all of them.To date I have been on Lupron, D.E.S., Casodex, Provenge, Zytiga with Prednisone, and Zometa for bone strength. I have been on Zytiga for 57 months now. I have been on Lupron for 12 Years. 
   The summer of ‘06 was a rough one. The entire summer it seems was spent being scanned and probed. Uncertainty was the norm. It was a time of spiritual and emotional growth. 
   I am happy to still be here among the living while so many of my friends are not. Research has come along way in the last 12 Years but there is still much to do. We cannot rest until no man ever dies of prostate cancer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Good news bad news

Well, Today I had my second dental appointment at the Oregon health science University dental school. My rationale for going to the dental school was this. I need a dental implant. I can’t afford to do that at one of the local dentists and I could save a lot of money by going to the dental school. At my last oncology appointment I decided to forgo my Zometa infusion. My oncologist had informed me that the only way I could get a dental implant was to be off of the medication four months prior to the implant and an additional four months after the work has been completed. To me, my plan was a good one. Today my plan basically blew up in my face. The instructor at the dental school informed me that there was no way I would ever receive an implant. In his words, the intravenous biophosophate Zometa, stays in your bones for up to 10 years. The risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw is too great.What is osteonecrosis? Well, in layman’s‘ terms it means bone death. Honestly, there is only a 3% risk of developing ostia necrosis but the dentist feels that 3% is too great of a risk. That my friends is the bad news. I may soon be gumming my good. Actually that’s not quite true. I have many good teeth I just have one that broke off at the Gum level and it makes me feel incredibly bad about myself. 
   After reading and article about osteonecrosis of the jaw I decided my dentist was right. I don’t want to take the risk. I guess I will soon go back on Zometa.
    OK everyone so that is the bad news. There was also some good news. I have very little gum recession. Other than the broken tooth I had very little dental work that needs to be done. There is also some other really good news. The broken tooth doesn’t have any decay. The root canal underneath it does not have any appearance of leakage. They also have a plan to fix it. For a few weeks, I will have a bridge across the two teeth that are next to the broken one. They will put an anchor in the tooth and use  a elastic band to gently pull the tooth out of it’s socket. By doing this slowly the bone will grow around the root. When the tooth is above the gum far enough they will do a post and build and then put a crown on it. Hurray... the dentist is going to grow me a new tooth.
   Well that is all for this update. Summer is coming. Yolo

Monday, May 7, 2018

The power of Potassium

   I have been feeling ill as of late. Really! Sick, tired, just really crappy. Last week it dawned on me that I have been out of Potassium for almost a month. Friday I bought a bottle and started taking it immediately. Taking potassium has made a huge difference. The nausea I have been feeling for the past several weeks is gone. I have more energy. The muscle cramping I have been experiencing has been largely illiminated.
   Blood tests over the course of the last year have shown my potassium level to be borderline low. I don’t know if that is because of the Zytiga or because of the prednisone. It really doesn’t matter either way. My potassium level has never been low enough to flag so it has largely gone unnoticed. 
    Low potassium { hypokalemia }causes a host of problems. Most people associate low potassium with muscle cramps. Potassium however does so much more. The heart muscle requires potassium in order to beat properly. Potassium is essential for blood pressure regulation. Maybe that is why for the first time in my life I have had to be put on blood pressure medicine. Symptoms of low potassium include muscle fatigue, Nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating, irregular heartbeat, excessive urination, fainting, depression and mood swings, numbness in muscle tissue, and tingling.
   On the other hand, high potassium levels can cause many of the same symptoms. Low potassium is rare therefore there is no recommended daily allowance it is however widely believed that 1600-2000 mg. is  addequate for most adults. This can vary due to work stress, climate and humidity. If  we sweat a lot we lose valuable electrolytes such as sodium, chloride, and potassium.
   Foods high in Potassium include among others, Avacados, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, wild-caught salmon, pomegranate, dried apricots, coconut water, white beans, and of course, bananas. Interestingly enough, bananas have the least amount of Potassium of all of these.
   In regards to the list above, I eat salmon once every couple of weeks, regularly drink Pom juice, and eat bananas. It has not been enough to keep my Potassium at an acceptable level. I work in a hot, humid environment and therefore I sweat a lot.
  Potassium is a balancing act. Blood potassium needs to be monitored. Potassium should not be supplemented except under the advice of a physician. If you have not been feeling like yourself however it may be worth looking at your potassium level.
That’s all for today. Todd

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Taking a toll

   A couple of weeks ago, a document was floating around the Mill site where I work. The document gave a comparison based on US statistics showing average age of retirement versus average age of death. The document showed that for every year worked after age 58 the average age of death accelerated by 3 years. After the last month, I believe it.
   It has been an unbelievably difficult month. It started several weeks ago as we began a bathroom remodel. Our home is 40 years old. Once upon a time it was a  rental house. After the previous owner’s husband passed away his widow decided to get out of the rental business. Her daughter and brother who is a general contractor polished the place up and put it on the market. Obviously, they used the cheapest material available. The house looked good but we have had to redo almost everything. Last year we considered selling and purchasing a new house. The problem with that however is that we love where we live. after much thought we made the decision to keep our home and make it exactly what we wanted. What are years ago, it would’ve been an easy task to undertake. Back then I had tons of energy. I’m starting to realize the older you get the more difficult it is to do it all. 
   Mandy deserves a new bathroom. She deserves the front porch with a swing. Our camper deserves it covered place to park it. Our snowmobiles deserve to be out of the weather. I can do most of the things that need to be done but quite frankly I’m getting tired. 

   This is what the bathroom looks like two days after making the decision to update it.

    This is what it looks like today. All that is left is to install new doors, trim, and to tile the shower surround around the tub. In regards to the bathroom I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It would’ve been done where it not for and event that started Sunday last.
   Sunday morning while drinking coffee and watching the news I noticed that every light in the house was flickering. Puzzled by what was occurring, l begin to troubleshoot. Starting at one end of the house, I work my way towards the garage and the breaker panel. Nothing seem to be out of place or overloaded but as I approach the breaker panel I heard a noise that sounded much like bacon frying. The conduit from the meter head to the breaker panel was hot to the touch. Thinking there was a problem with the meter I shut off all of the breakers and called the PUD. They arrived an hour later and shut off our power. There was nothing wrong with the meter. They told me however, power  would not be restored until repairs to our electrical system were completed. 5 days and a thousand dollars later, the lights are back on. Thank God I have good friends who are electricians or the financial burden would have been much higher. 
   I had to take Thursday off of work. The electrical inspector was coming and I needed to be there. I suppose I could’ve called in sick but it is difficult for me to lie. It is Saturday, April 21 and I am at work making up for the time I lost.
  The alarm startled me this morning. I was sleeping heavily. My face in the mirror looked haggard. I think I need a vacation.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April 4 2018

   Ten years ago today we moved into our home. It is also my late mother in law’s birthday. Mandy bought a bottle of wine to celebrate both tonight. She would have bought a bottle anyway as it is “Wine Wednesday” but tonight we have an extra reason for libations.  
    When Mandy and I met, we were poor. I was recovering from a 3 year life setback and Mandy was a single mom. Our credit was in the toilet. Mine was worse than hers. We lived in a dilapidated double wide trailer for our first two years together as we worked toward our goal of owning a home. Six months after our wedding “Highline Homes” told us we qualified to have a new home built. The market was tanking at the time and although our credit was better I was still nervous about qualifying for the loan. They told us we qualified however and convinced us to write a $1700 check. Three days later our loan was denied and they kept our money. Highline homes stole $1700 from us in my opinion. We were devastated. We were so poor that it felt as though we lost a million dollars. The Realtor we were working with convinced us to talk to a mortgage lender she had worked with. He was a terrific human being and pre-qualified is for a home loan in a matter of days. It was not a construction loan mind you. He stated “ I have been in this business for 40 years and there is no way in hell I could qualify you for a construction loan. Highline knew you didn’t qualify and simply wanted your money” This fueled my ire to no end but the money was gone and we were going to get a home of our own. Chalk it up to a learning experience.
   We looked at several houses before making an offer on our home. Once the offer was accepted and the process began, we would drive to the house 2-3 times a week to walk the neighborhood or sit on the deck. We bought furniture. We bought paint. We counted the days. It felt as though it would never happen but on April 4, we signed papers and took possession. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. 
   We have come so far in the last 10 years. Looking back it feels like a dream. We did very little that first year but after that we set about making our home a reflection of who we are as a couple. To date we have remodeled the kitchen and brought the laundry room in from the garage. We have tiled, painted, recarpeted, and remodeled both bathrooms. We are in the home stretch now. Only a few projects remain and they are in process. 
   We had only lived on the lake for a year before buying our first boat.! You cant live on a lake and not have a boat. We have upgraded twice since then. We won’t be upgrading again.
   It is strange to me that I had nothing 12 years ago. No money, no possessions of value, and from what my doctors said, no future. Today, I am married to the love of my life, relatively healthy, and have everything I ever wanted in life. I am a blessed man. 
   Tonight I will tip a glass of good red wine and remember and appreciate all we have been through and our many blessings.