Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two more months

   My P.S.A. Test came back yesterday as undetectable. This is the 4th in a row now and it feels really good. I called Mandy right away to give her the good news. Today the game begins anew. I will see my oncologist this afternoon, get a bone infusion and a refill for Zytiga and not think about cancer until my psa is tested again in two months. 
   I talked to a good friend on the phone last night. He will be getting Provenge therapy before years end. I am really happy for him. He is a good man and deserves the very best. I hope to one day recieve a booster dose of it myself. Time will tell if that will happen. Dendreon stock is in the toilet and I worry about the companies survival. I believe Provenge will always be around but I can't help feeling that Dendreon may have been hurt beyond repair by the smear campaign that M.H. launched against it. That campaign almost kept me from getting the drug 2-1/2 years ago. Sometimes life isn't fair.
   I still hear doctors say that Provenge is too expensive and that the benefit does not justify the price tag. What a load of crap. Provenge gave me 14 side effect free progression free months. If my math is correct that equates to roughly $10000 a month. The number may have been lower as prior to starting zytiga I had no sign of progression other than my psa was rising and I couldn't emotionally handle seeing it rise month after month. I may have started Zytiga a little earlier than needed. Even if I did not start early, the cost factor is not that different between the two medications. 
   I agree that the sticker shock of Provenge is just a little hard to swallow all at once but Provenge treatment is over in 5 weeks. What about Zytiga?
   My Zytiga prescription is roughly $5600 a month. I have to have monthly Dr. appointments, monthly blood tests,and a  separate prednisone prescription. Not only that but the side effects of Zytiga are much worse than anything I ever experienced on Provenge. Albeit I didn't experience any side effects with Provenge. It doesn't take long if you do tha math to realize that the cost is very comparable between the two medications. An added benefit with Provenge is that receiving it first can actually help subsequent medications to be more effective. Zytiga cannot make that claim. I digress!
   Yesterday I was given two more months to be Cancer Free. It was a wonderful gift. This weekend I will celebrate with the beautiful love of my life. I have now lived 101 months since my diagnosis of widespread metastatic Prostate Cancer. Next weekend I will be on vacation for a week of elk hunting. I can only imagine what life would be like if these new medications had not been brought to market. Can guys even walk up and down mountains while undergoing chemotherapy. 
   Each passing year brings me closer to keeping my 30 year promise to Mandy. Each year new medications are being tested and approved for Prostate Cancer treatment. The future is bright and getting brighter every day. It makes me wish I had promised Mandy 40 years. I have an amazing wonderful life and I am going be here for a long long time. Yolo. Todd

Friday, October 17, 2014

you have cancer. Now what?

    I am not a doctor. I have nothing to do within the realm of the medical community. I am just a guy who loves to write who also has the luck of a prostate cancer diagnosis. If you find this blog by chance or if your a regular reader, Welcome.  I am sorry I haven't written much lately. I haven't had much to talk about. I recent doctor visit has inspired me.
   There are lots of places a person can find information about treatment options on the web. I talk about several of the ones that I have experienced in previous blog entries. The following will have nothing to do with treatments but I do hope to instill a mindset or perhaps a heart set regarding the road ahead that we must travel.
  A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating especially with prostate cancer because most often men had no idea there was a problem. In my case it was a little different. I knew I was sick I just had no idea how sick I was.    The question however is this. You have cancer .... Now what.?
   Your scared no doubt. I have seen all the cancer movies. The hero dies. Those sure are a ton of fun to watch. My wife and daughter recently goaded me into watching " The Fault In Our Stars" I need to tell you that I don't understand what the heck is wrong with women. Why do they enjoy watching stuff like that. Oh sure, I get the love story but the dude died!! HE DIED!!! They both had tears running down their cheeks and I must admit that I was struggling to hold back the tears but more was on the line here than meets the eye. They threatened to take away my man card the last time I cried at a movie. I admit that I deserved it. It was the Hanna Montana movie. Still. come hell or high water I was not about to cry at this one.
   I digress. Your scared. I get it. I was too. Looking back, I am certain I fell apart a little. That's okay. You can do it too but what is more important is what you do afterward. After the tears and/or the rage as was in my case. ( I sort of told God I thought he was an asshole ) what do you do next.
    Some people have it all together. Some don't. Prior to my diagnosis I thought I wanted to die. I guess you might call this stinking thinking. There is a lot of it out there and it is also the point I am really trying to make.
   We are all born with a death sentence. The joke says don't take life too serious because nobody gets out alive. I have seen so many people who just stop living life when they are told they might die. That is like throwing the last bowl of ice cream in the trash because there isn't any left. It's stupid and it is the worst kind of stinking thinking there is. You are sick! Your not dead!
   Cancer is no fun but life is amazingly good if you allow it to be and it doesn't matter if you have a week or 30 more years. I want to open up a new mindset that uses cancer as a turning point in your life. What have you always wanted to do. What have you always wanted to see. If you spend your time living life out loud you may find that your having so much fun that at times you forget all about the cancer. You may even forget to die. Sometimes when I think about it, it all makes sense. Well, not really sense but it makes me ask questions that are far too complicated for me to answer. I wonder, Did I get sick because I wanted to die? Did the thought of dying give me incentive to live? Has actually living life rather than being an idle participant made the difference in the overall success of my treatment? I don't have the answers and when I think about it I only have more questions but maybe it doesn't matter. We all have an expiration date. If we were born with the understanding that we only have 10, 15, or 50, years and when the day comes that we have to leave would we waste that time or would we experience life for all it has to offer. We are born with this false sense of immortality. Oh sure, we all know that one day we will die but it won't happen for a long long time. We go through life wasting day after day simply existing when we should be living and loving and going for it any time we want to. You have Cancer. You have an expiration date that may come sooner than later but the truth is that you don't know that. So what has changed? The answer is NOTHING!! Nothing has changed. You will have good days and some that may not be as good but you are alive today and God willing tomorrow as well. Use today as a turning point. From this day forward, have no regrets. It is a beautiful life. Go out and GETCHASOME. Todd