Monday, August 29, 2016

The Missing Talisman

This is a big week for me. Today, I finish the second-to-last recording project of my 29 year career in music. I started recording for a living in August of 1987. I'll miss 30 years by one year, but that's OK. I'm ready to retire from music. I have other passions now. I'm very grateful for the career I've had, but it was winding down of its own accord well before I had cancer. Cancer was just the push I needed to find a new path. But I didn't find that new path, it found me.

Also today, Monday, August 29th, I get my next blood draw. On Wednesday, I see my oncologist and find out what my numbers are. That result will determine whether I continue receiving conventional treatment or not. More on that in a future post.

I've been talking about this upcoming test for a while, but in case you haven't been following along, let me catch you up. I've been on Lupron, which is a hormone suppressant, since September of last year. Prostate cancer feeds on testosterone, rather than sugar like other cancers. So suppressing testosterone starves the cancer. Many with a less aggressive cancer can stay on it for years, but since my cancer is very aggressive, my doctors only expected me to get 18 months to two years out of Lupron. After my first shot last September, Lupron brought my PSA down from 15.8 to 1.42. I got my second shot last March.

Lupron, by keeping my PSA down, keeps my cancer under control. When my PSA starts to rise again, it means Lupron isn't working anymore, and my cancer is on the move. When I had my last test in July, my PSA had risen to 1.97. My oncologist said that it could be normal fluctuation due to the fact that I still have my prostate. He recommended waiting six weeks, and testing again. If my number goes back down, all is well, and I get another shot. If it's up further, we have a whole new ball game.

If Lupron isn't working anymore, there's no point in getting another shot. The question will be, where do we go from there, if that's the case? If Lupron only lasted me a year, that's very bad news. It means I'd burn through other treatments fast also.

When you have prostate cancer, every PSA test is big. And you're nervous before every one, even if you've been told you're cancer free. But I'm especially nervous about this one. It will determine a lot for me. It will have huge implications for my life expectancy. So while I'm not afraid, or worried, I am nervous.

It's interesting to me that I'm taking a big step towards ending my music career on the same day that I'm being tested for the very thing that's ending it. It seems fitting, somehow. I have everything I need to finish my music work, but I don't feel like I have everything I need to get through my test result on Wednesday. That makes me extra nervous.

This is where this post will go off the rails for some of you. I debated whether to talk about this publicly at all, but I suppose that some who read this will understand. Maybe you have something similar that helped you get through a difficult time.

I'm missing something that's very important to me, and there's no replacing it. Not in time for this week, anyway. I realized last Friday that I had lost my cross pendant. The one that's pictured at the top of this post and many others. It was a gift from a friend, made for me by a cancer brother. If you want to read about how I received it, and what it means to me, read my post from last February, The Wall.

This pendant means a lot to me. In my mind, it's become a sort of talisman. It represents the power of God over my cancer. And now, I can't find it. Just when I really need it.

If I had it, I'd wear it for my blood draw. I'd also wear it on Wednesday when I see my oncologist, as I have each time I've gone to see him. It would comfort me. It might give me an opportunity to talk to someone about it. I've received many compliments on it, and I've been blessed to be able give them to some cancer brothers of mine. They can testify to how comforting they are. They can also testify to what a blow it would be to lose it.

The irony of this is that I've always been a science guy. I'm about rationality and logic. I'm a thinker. So I know perfectly well that this pendant is just nails, wire, and a leather strap, with a few other touches. I know it isn't magic. But at a time like this, rationality can go right out the window. At a time like this, all kinds of things seem possible.

I don't believe in omens or portents. I don't believe in fate. But I do believe in signs. And, as irrational as it is, I can't help but see the loss of my pendant as a sign. Scientifically, I know that's ridiculous. A piece of jewelry couldn't possibly affect my PSA score. But that doesn't make me feel better. Scientifically, it's just metal, wood, plastic, and leather, but scientifically, my wedding ring is just metal and rocks too. Some things are more than the sum of their parts.

Like you and me. We're more than the sum of our parts. Every act of love is more than the sum of its parts. And this pendant was a gift of love from a Stage 4 cancer patient, given to me through one of my closest friends. That makes it much more than the sum of its parts.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe in the Christ that my pendant represents. I still believe he can heal me if he chooses to do so. I don't think the loss of my pendant reduces his power one bit. But it makes a difference in how I feel. And I can't help but feel that maybe losing it at this particular time means something. And I'm afraid it might mean something bad.

Again, I know that if my PSA goes up again, it's not because I lost a keepsake. In my rational mind, I know that's not possible. But I really wish I could find it just the same. I need it this week. But I need the God it represents more, and I'll never lose him.

Maybe I'll find my missing talisman soon. Maybe I'll get another one eventually. By the way, if I sent you one, don't send it back! I don't want yours. I want mine. And for all I know, my PSA will be back down where it was or lower, and all my nervousness will have been for nothing. But that's not how it feels to me. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. And losing my pendant seems like confirmation of what I've been expecting.

No matter what the number is, God is still God, and I'm still OK either way. I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I'd be nervous about this test even if I had a collection of those pendants. But I still wish I had it. I can't imagine where it went.

I'll post again on Wednesday, after I have my results. If my PSA is climbing, this will be a very interesting consultation. I'll have lots of information for you.

This post has not been very well constructed, or thematic, or spiritually uplifting. But it's what I'm going through right now. I feel like a big part of my purpose for the rest of my time here is to give you this window on what it's like to deal with this. The smallest things take on major significance. And timing is everything. I've talked throughout this process on how amazed I've been at God's timing. That's partly why I feel like the timing of this means something too.

Thank you for hanging in there with me. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. I need all of that this week. That's what's really carried me through all of this. But all the same, I still want my pendant back. #waroncancer

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