|The Final Bell
Some serious catch-up is in order. I did finish the external beam radiation after five weeks of treatment. When you are done, you get to walk down the hall and ring the bell, which I did. Everyone in the Cancer Center and the John Zay house was kind and supportive, both the staff and the patients I came to know over my five weeks.
The radiation treatments were in themselves painless but the effects on my bladder and urinary system were not. There was a little pain during urination but the worst effect was the diminution of bladder control. Urgency took on a new meaning for me.
I remained on my hormone treatments during the holidays and in January my wife Barbara and I made ready to go to Seattle for the brachytherapy. I had been accepted as a patient by Dr. Peter Grimm who is one of the pioneer medical practitioners in this field. I had met with him in November and we spent a detailed hour together discussing the data he has accumulated over the years to indicate which would be the best treatment course for me. I like data, especially good, accurate data, which Dr. Grimm had aplenty. Next up was the actual brachytherapy itself, scheduled for January 14th in Seattle during which he would call in what I referred to as a micro nuclear air strike on the cancer in my prostate which was still reeling from the external beam attack in Colorado.
Of course, when Barbara and I began our three and half hour drive to the airport in Denver, it was cold, snowing and the roads were icy. We made it on time, put the car in the long term lot and took off for Seattle.
On Wednesday morning, up way too early, we caught an Uber ride to the surgery center. For some reason I wasn’t nervous, like I anticipated. Everyone was both professional and very kind. After dressing in my funny clothes and meeting briefly with Dr. Grimm, I walked into the OR, go on the table and while the anestheologist was hooking me up and we were chatting about something I awoke in the recovery room two hours later.
Details aren’t really necessary except to say that, as I was told earlier, the recovery was over about a two month period, made difficult by both frequent and painful urination. I got up one night six different times, although that was the record. I have medication to help which it does. I am now tapering off of that and slowly getting back to normal. My PSA dropped to 0.05, or basically undetectable. I am getting off the hormones and will be monitoring the PSA every three months. The latest studies show the treatment I have done is about 95% successful over ten years.
The most important things I have learned are: if you have prostate cancer, take your time to understand what kind (aggressive or “normal”), get an oncologist, not a urologist or radiologist who are specialists and want to practice their specialty. Most men do not need to rush into treatment. Don’t do anything until you have at least another opinion from a non-specialist. I learned that you should buy and read “The Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers” by Sholz and Bloom. You should get on the PCRI website and read all you can. Don’t listen to rumors, Google and people who are free with medical advice but not the knowledge that should come with it.
I’ve learned that life is short, it’s all you are going to get, so live it with gusto and quality.
If anyone needs to talk about this further, comment on this blog and I’ll send you my email address or call you.