Tuesday, November 2, 2021

So many changes

   Man what a year it’s been. Looking back I see that it has actually been almost a year since I last posted. There have been so many changes I don’t even know where to start.
   First of all we moved. Mandy was offered a job that she just couldn’t refuse and our thought process at the time was I will only be working at most six more years .Moving closer to her employment seemed to make the most sense. Moving was a wild ride. I didn’t believe our house was going to sell especially for the exorbitant price we were asking for it. Within 22 hours we had three full price offers. The offer we excepted was a cash offer.  The people buying our house closed on October 15 and we closed on the new home October 16. We had 24 hours to be out of the house. Thank God for really good friends or we would not have finished on time. It is amazing how much actual crap a family collects over a 15 years span living in one place.  We hauled off at least 10 loads to the dump and recycling center, had a garage sale,  and gave a truckload of stuff to goodwill. We still had a carport full of stuff that we gave away to whoever would take it. 
   We love our new home. It was only five years old when we purchased it and it is everything we always dreamed of but never thought we could afford. We have six beautiful acres with a year-round creek running through the back of the property. We can see our closest neighbor but we have to walk out into the driveway to do it. Deer and elk graze through our property regularly and we have seen bear and Cougar scat on occasion.. We really are in B.F.E. though. I mean we are only 1/2 a mile from a Highway but once you are on the highway it is a half hour to the grocery store.

   In January 2021 I began having a lot of pain in my knees again. My orthopedic surgeon said there was nothing he could do but replace the joints. My oncologist said no way due to bone metastasis. Long story short, I am now retired. Sonically security approved my disability claim in 6 weeks and I will be signing paperwork at the end of the year to make it official. Adjusting too early retirement has been challenging. This really came as a surprise to me. I couldn’t wait for retirement and eight months into this process I am only just now starting to get comfortable with it. I have lots of stuff to keep me busy. I spent the last five weeks fishing for salmon and deer hunting. I did pretty good at both. Elk hunting season begins on Saturday. Although washington State elk hunting success rates average one elk every 10 years I have managed to do significantly better than that filling the freezer on average every other year. Hopefully in two weeks we will have a freezer full of venison elk steak summer sausage and salmon. ever since my diagnosis in 2006, I have refrained from eating much pork or beef unless it was organically farmed locally. Basically all we eat is wild game wild fish and organic poultry. I am not a trophy Hunter. I hunt for food.
  Once hunting season is over then fishing season for winter steelhead arrives. After that the holidays and then snowmobiling season. All of these things are used to do while working full-time. I have no idea how I accomplish this. It seems I never have enough time to get anything done.
   Yesterday was Oncology day. All  my blood work came back normal so at 15 years 4 months and 26 days from diagnosis cancer still remains undetectable. I hope to enjoy 15 or 16 years of retirement. I don’t wanna be one of those guys who works his entire life retires and passes away a few years later. I guess that’s really out of my hands so I will just give it over to God‘s will.

Monday, November 23, 2020

An actual Prostate cancer post.

   Earlier today I did a rant. I just needed to vent my frustrations in a safe environment. Thank you for tolerating me. As long as it has been since I wrote anything you deserve more. 
   I had an oncology visit in late September and all was well. PSA was still undetectable and my lungs were clear. It seems weird to talk about lung metastasis when dealing with prostate cancer. 
   I have been having dreams lately. Strange dreams. Rising PSA dreams. I have also notice a weaker stream  when urinating. Put the two things together and it brings a certain amount of anxiety. I am okay. Although difficulty urinating is a symptom of prostate cancer it is also a symptom of BPH. It seems I have survived long enough to develope symptoms of growing old. It is a bitter sweet emotion. I am happy about my continued success at beating the crap out of cancer (Thank you God) but I am getting arthritis in my knees and shoulders. It’s harder to do the things I love. I just know I have to keep myself as fit as possible. I turn 57 in a couple weeks. I want to continue to water ski and wake board and ride snowmobiles. 
   I started taking flow max a few days ago and my symptoms are beginning to subside. I feel a little mrw at ease. 
  We moved. I went into it a little in my previous rant but it was in the context of frustration and anger. We are in our forever home now. We bought a beautiful home on 6 acres with a creek and it is a quiet forested location. It is near our summer and winter recreation area and we honestly couldn’t be happier. Mandy even let me buy a tractor. Someday she will actually let me drive it. I think she likes it more than I do.
   I have been stage 4 for 14-1/2 years. It’s really hard to believe. I am being allowed to see my dreams come true. I feel so blessed. Life is really a wonderful ride. Her are a few pics. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

It’s been a while! Sorry!

I’m really sorry to all those who follow this blog for the length of time between posts. As I’ve said before it is difficult to write when there is nothing new to write about. As for my health, I’m doing fine. It has been eight months since I restarted treatment and the cancer has once again been put to sleep. My latest PSA was undetectable a month ago. Once again I have no libido but that is to be expected and Mandy and I are able to work through it.
   Today I participated in a market research study. Although the name of the treatment was not revealed I am making an assumption that it is Relugolix. Relugolix is an LHRH inhibitor much like injectables such as Lupron but in pill form. It is one small pill taken daily. At present I do not know if they have completed the phase 3 trial but I know the FDA has released it under the right to try act.
  If the promises hold true, this is a wonderful advancement for men with advanced prostate cancer. The medication acts quickly reducing testosterone to castration levels in as few as 15 days with no testosterone flare. The medication was well tolerated with side effects similar to injectable LHRH inhibitor’s including fatigue, joint pain, 54%,  diarrhea 12%, constipation 12%,  and hypertension 8%. Best of all with this medication there was a 54% reduction in cardiovascular incidents. Most men who went off this medication experienced a testosterone rebound within three months. I will not go so far as to say this is a game changer yet but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
   On a personal note. When Mandy and I got together one of her most cherished possessions was a1978 V.W. Camper van. We were poor and hard up for cash. I talked her into selling it. Last week I repented for my sin.   

Meet Sunshine. She is a 1972 V.W. Transporter and she is as close to mint condition as I have come across. I cannot believe how much these things have gone up in price but I promise you it was worth every penny to see my wife’s face light up.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

First PSA Since restarting treatment

I have been putting off having a PSA and other blood work for a month now. I think maybe my psyche was consumed with what if. What if treatment didn’t work? It has been a long time disincentive I felt that way. Two days ago I sucked it up and drove to the cancer center. I shouldn’t have worried. In 3 months since restarting treatment my PSA fell once again to undetectable levels. So did my Testosterone. I miss it. Man do I ever miss it!! Oh well. I haven’t had any side effects from treatment except for loss of Libido. I guess I’m doing okay. 
   A lot has happened disincentivized I last wrote in my blog. Hunting season came and went. I have a freezer full of venison and elk. It is also full of halibut and salmon. I guess we will be eating good this year. 
   I had shoulder surgery a couple weeks ago to clean up a rotator tear and some bone spurs. Currently I am a house husband until late January. I am kind of bored but I am making myself enjoy this. I don’t get much time off work.
   My daughters and granddaughters are here for Christmas. It will be good to spend time with them. I hope you all have the Merriest of Christmas and the happiest New Year. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Two weeks since starting treatment

     Today it has been two weeks since I restarted cancer treatment for my stage IV prostate cancer. There’s really not much to say. I feel really good but I attribute all of that to the prednisone. My oncologist believes that for the last 10 months I had been  suffering from adrenal insufficiency. Zytiga shuts down the adrenal gland. Patients taking Zytiga supplement with prednisone. Often, patients who stop taking Zytiga find that their adrenal system never fully restarts. This was true in my case.  Once I resumed the prednisone my body was getting the steroid it needed to repair itself. 
     Prior to re-starting treatment I had received a referral to the local orthopedic clinic for the chronic pain I have been suffering in my shoulder. I had already received two Cortizone shots to try and relieve the pain. The first shot worked pretty good. It seemed  to relieve the pain for several months. The second shot lasted only a few weeks before pain returned. Two years ago  I was leaving work and slipped on a patch of wet moss. I fell hard and absorbed weight of a full body impact onto my left forearm driving my shoulder straight up. It has been problematic ever since. Friday last my shoulder was X-rayed. Next Monday I will have an MRI. I am no longer certain the MRI is necessary. Since restarting prednisone much of the pain has dissipated. There is still mild discomfort however I am not so sure the MRI will detect anything that can be repaired by arthroscopic surgery. Time will tell.
   I am finding it somewhat easier to urinate this week. I take that as a sign that treatment is once again putting cancer to sleep. Chronic diarrhea has returned since starting Lupron. Huge bummer. My libido is waning. Worse bummer! Oh well, Mandy and I have worked through this before and know how to keep intimacy alive.
   On a positive note, we broke down and purchased a hot tub last month. It arrived a week ago and we have been using it every day since. That may also have something to do with the absence of shoulder pain. 
   That is about all I have for this update. Life is good. If you have been diagnosed with late stage cancer and have not heard it from anyone else, I want you to know there is hope. A diagnosis of this disease does not mean you have been given a death sentence. Thee is hope. There is hope! THERE IS HOPE!!!!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Day 1 update

    Yesterday I felt fantastic. I felt better yesterday than I have in months. None of this made sense to me. Androgen deprivation therapy is not exactly quick acting. Once you receive your injection it takes a while for it to get into your system. PSA has a half-life of two weeks therefore there’s no way there was a reduction in PSA. I was trying to figure out why I felt so good. It hit me this morning. It was the prednisone. To me this is the only logical explanation. I am speculating that my adrenal gland may have started up somewhat but still has not been working the way that it should prior to Zytiga. With this in mind, it stands to reason that my body has not been producing enough of its own steroid for the last several months. This would cause my joints to ache and my muscles to ache and nothing to really work the way it supposed to. Once I started taking prednisone again my body stopped hurting and I had more energy. There is a negative side of this. I haven’t slept very well the last couple of nights. Maybe my body doesn’t need as much sleep now that it’s getting the steroid it needs to function correctly or maybe the prednisone is keeping me awake until I adjust to it again. Either way I feel better and I’m not falling asleep at work which is a bonus. Not only that I felt so good yesterday that I dug a ditch approximately a foot deep and 10 foot long, install the drain pipe off my downspout and refilled the ditch in an hour. I could not have done that two days ago.
   Last night my mind would not shut down. I spent a good portion of the hours I should’ve been sleeping thinking about prostate cancer. Imagine that! In my mind I was doing mathematics regarding PSA doubling time. I realized that with a doubling time of 4 weeks it would only take another 10 months for my PSA to reach my prediagnosis level of 3200. Try sleeping with that on your mind. As terrible as I had been feeling with a PSA of just over 3, I couldn’t stop thinking how bad I would feel with a PSA of 3200. The thought then occurred to me that if treatment ever stopped working I would probably only have a couple years left to live. It was a long night. I guess I must have nodded off around 1:00 a.m. My usual bedtime is 9:00 p.m.
   When I woke up at 5 it hit me that my discomfort was not cancer symptoms but rather a lack of steroid. I call that a gift. 
   I am not looking forward to treatment side effects. I will be sending my doctor an e-mail today suggesting that the next time I am on treatment holiday ( if there is a next time ) that prior to restarting we base that decision on imaging and not just PSA. Todd

Thursday, September 12, 2019

My ADT vacation is over

Yesterday was a full day of Oncology. It started with a blood draw at nine in the morning and then Mandy and I spent the next five hours playing disc golf and going out to lunch. We had a really good day until my appointment at 2:30 with the oncologist. At the appointment I found out that over the last 20 weeks my PSA had increased from .06 to 3.03. Essentially it had been doubling approximately every four weeks. My testosterone level had went from less than 10 to 245 since going off of Zytiga last November.
    To be perfectly honest I completely expected it. There were a few tell tale signs. It had become more difficult to urinate and I would find myself straining a little to void my bladder. Overall my body seemed to be fatigued and achy all over. After my appointment yesterday I received my first Lupron injection in 14 months. This morning I restarted Zytiga.
   Mandy is doing as well as can be expected with the news we got yesterday. She and I both want to believe that by some grace of God or miracle, the cancer would not come back. This morning she was a little off. It breaks my heart what this disease does to her. Sure, we are able to retain a degree of intimacy but it’s not the same. She wants to be wanted and simply being able to make love is just not the same thing.
   For me, yesterday‘s news brings with it a lot of questions. Well maybe not a lot of questions. I just wonder, if my testosterone level had not of jumped right back up into normal range, would the cancer have stayed at bay much longer? I suppose that it’s a question that will have to go unanswered.
    For Mandy and I, it was a pretty incredible year. Having testosterone again, we both appreciated the renewed interest in intimacy. I suppose my only regret is that we didn’t utilize the interest as often as we could have. Unfortunately we both work long days and when we get home we are tired. During my ADT holiday we ventured to the big Island of Hawaii spent time in the mountains, And at various lakes. I will include some photos of our adventures in this post.
    I have no doubt that the combination of ADT and Zytiga will once again put the beast to sleep. Zytiga is a powerful weapon against advanced prostate cancer. I wish I could receive Provenge again. I firmly believe that in my case it is the reason that the Zytiga has worked so well.
    So where do we go from here? My oncologist seems to be on board with intermittent therapy. If that is the case perhaps after the beast goes to sleep I will be able to experience another vacation from treatment. I certainly hope so.