Thursday, November 30, 2017

It’s always there

   I had an oncology appointment today. It was my first since July. When I was seeing Oncology at Kaiser Permanente, my labs were drawn every month. Since changing insurance companies and moving to Providence Cancer Center in Portland Oregon that is no longer the case. The last time my labs were drawn was July19th. The stress of having a PSA draw every month used to bother me. I always thought it would be great to have the test less often. Now I’m not so sure. Having so much time between tests is great however it can be a double edge sword. On one hand, it’s nice not having to worry about having labs drawn and in some regards being able to forget about cancer for a while but on the other hand with so much time between lab tests, changes can occur on a larger scale. It can be nerve racking. Having lab tests monthly also brought peace of mind. Yes, I always had one day a month that was stressful but it was also monthly confirmation that I was doing well in the fight. 
   Time between visits open the door for the head games I am prone to play with myself. Every little pain or change causes me to wonder if the cancer is returning. Is the cough I have developed signaling the return of lung metastasis? “No dummy, it is the same cough every other person in the Northwest has!” Is the discomfort in the back of my legs caused by a tumor growing? “No, you hiked a mountain yesterday and don’t forget the hundreds of stairs you ascend at work each day!” It never ends! No matter how well I do in the fight there is always those negative voices whispering doubt. 

   Oddly enough, I don’t fear the return of cancer. I have many more bullets in the gun to combat this disease albeit many of the ones exhibiting mild to moderate side effects have been used. 

I have yet to be on Xtandi or any of the chemotherapies. It is simply a matter of wondering when I will be forced to take the next step. I have now been on Zytiga for 50 months. It is my understanding that I am among a handful of guys who have been on the medication this long. When the drug fails to work at some future date it may bring with it a new set of challenges. Zytiga works by shutting down the adrenal gland. In addition to adrenaline, the gland produces natural steroids and residual testosterone. A friend of mine failed Zytiga after 42 months. His adrenal gland never did start working again. It can be a messy transition.
  My check up went great. Lungs clear, no lymph enlargement, no leg swelling, and other than my red cell count and potassium level being at the low end of the scale, all my blood tests were field goals. Oh,..... My PSA test showed no change. It is still holding steady at less than 0.01. I guess my subconscious mind can rest for another 3 months. Now I can focus on the finer things that winter has to offer.

   To all my friends, family, and those who are kind enough to read my blog, go with God as you understand him to be and have a joyful holiday season. Todd