Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wait And See

Since my last post was titled Questions, I was hoping to title this one, "Answers." But I got no definitive answers yesterday. Just a troubling "wait and see."

My last PSA result was 1.42 back in March. I was expecting that the number would stay the same or be lower. Since I started on the hormone suppressant Lupron, my PSA has gone down steadily, and by large increments. From 15.8 when I was diagnosed to 4.0 three months after my first shot. Then down to 1.42 last March.

Since I still have my prostate, my PSA number will never be zero. But I thought it could go lower than 1.42. That had been the trend. While I knew that it was possible that my PSA could rise, I didn't expect that it would. Or if it did, that it would prove something one way or the other. But I didn't get a definitive answer either way. Here's what I got.

My PSA has risen from 1.42 to 1.97. Not enough to cause real concern yet, but it's going in the wrong direction. My oncologist thinks that it could be normal fluctuation due to the fact that I still have my prostate. My prostate is still producing the PSA protein, and always will. That's why my number will never be zero. I'm hopeful that's all it is.

But if my next number is higher than 1.97, that spells trouble. It means Lupron is no longer working. Since my cancer is very aggressive, they only expected Lupron to be effective for me for about eighteen months to two years. If it's already losing effect, I only got a year out of it. That would not be good news.

As a result, we're in wait-and-see mode. My next shot is scheduled for September 6th. If you've been following along, you know that I intended to ask my oncologist about delaying that shot. Now, that may be a moot point. If my next result is higher, I've probably had my last Lupron shot. Not that I'll miss Lupron!

There are other treatment options available, but there's a reason that Lupron is the first choice. If Lupron loses effect for me after only a year, that doesn't bode well for other standard treatments in my case.

But I'm not going down that road very far just yet. As Jesus said, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

If my next result stays the same or goes back down a bit, it means that my number is fluctuating normally. In that case, my oncologist approved of my idea to delay my next shot and simply test every two months to see what happens. But if it goes up again, that goes out the window. In that case, we need a new strategy.

The whole idea of waiting and testing at regular intervals was to try to prove whether or not I still have cancer. If my next number is higher, I will have my proof, and it isn't the proof I'm looking for.

The news hit me harder than I expected yesterday. I really didn't expect the number to rise. Not at all. I'm supposed to get more time from my current treatment. So I was emotional afterwards, and I still am now. But not from the news alone.

While I was waiting in the reception area of my oncologist's office yesterday, I considered "checking in" on Facebook. I've never really done that before. I don't like the idea of telling the world where I am. I always feel like I'm announcing to every burglar in town that I'm not at home. But I got my phone out, went on Facebook, and started to do it anyway. But then I hesitated. I didn't feel comfortable. I put my phone back in my pocket.

A couple of minutes later, I reconsidered. But as I started the process again, I hesitated again. Put my phone away again. Finally, I got past my hesitation and checked in at Porter Cancer Care in Denver, Colorado. I wrote a simple status update that many of you have seen by now. Feeling nervous. "Waiting to see my oncologist. Hoping for good numbers!"

Once the deed was done, I waited for about another 30 minutes to see the doctor. And while I waited, the likes and comments came pouring in. Over 150 likes and 70 comments. Unless you've been there, you'll never know how much that helped me while I waited. It still helps to look at it now. I'm so glad I went ahead with it.

In addition, I've gotten several texts, calls, and messages from dear friends. One in particular was on pins and needles waiting for PSA results from someone she's never met, while her husband was going into surgery the next day. If my wife was having surgery this morning, that's all I would have been thinking about yesterday. But this dear lady was worried about me. To me, that's amazing.

Since my appointment, I've been close to tears. Some of that emotion is due to being shaken a bit by the news. But most of it is gratitude for the love and support. The more of it that I receive, the less I feel I deserve it. But it just keeps coming. And it inspires me to redouble my prayers for all of my cancer brothers and sisters. I pray without ceasing for all of you today! Prayer and tears go good together. Like holy mashed potatoes and gravy.

So I didn't get the answer I was hoping for yesterday in either direction. But I did get encouragement, love, and support. And thanks to you, that will get me through to my next test and beyond. #waroncancer

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