Friday, September 9, 2016

Welcome To Stage 4

My head is spinning right now. There is a lot to tell you about since my last post. This whole week has been one for the books. But it's all been leading to this. I got the official word from my oncologist this morning. The bone scan that I had done on Wednesday shows cancer spots all up my spine. I am Stage 4.

I'm no longer a candidate for radiation treatment. I was dreading that anyway. I have some idea what my oncologist wants to do next, but he had not had time to review all of my options before I saw him today. He had an emergency with another patient when my wife and I arrived, and we didn't get to see him until 90 minutes after our scheduled appointment. I'll see him again next week, and we'll discuss treatment options at that time.

We looked at the images from the bone scan, and he showed me where the metastases are. I could see about five or six spots, with the highest being near my heart. I asked for copies of the images, but now, looking at them on my home computer, it's hard for me to tell what I'm seeing. I wanted to include an image from the scans in this post, but the image quality is too grainy. You'll have to take my word for it.

I have to admit that I'm surprised by this news. I had a feeling before my last PSA test that my number would be higher, but I didn't think that the scans would show that I'm Stage 4. I told friends this week that I felt like I'd be in worse shape physically if I was Stage 4. I was optimistic going into these scans. I fully expected that they would detect no metastasis, and I'd be getting pressure from loved ones to have the radiation procedure that was being recommended right way. I would have done it, too. Not for myself, but for my loved ones. But now, that's off the table.

My oncologist also said that he believes that, even if I had undergone radiation six months ago, I would still have ended up with bone metastasis now. So I would have gone through all of that for nothing. If that's the case, I'm glad I didn't put myself through that. That's the main reason I've avoided it. I never believed that radiation would cure me.

The problem is the aggressiveness of my cancer. That Gleason 9 score was gonna get me at some point. It was always just a matter of time. But then, it's just a matter of time for all of us. I'll repeat what I've been saying since I was first diagnosed. I don't know how much time I have left, but neither do you. Nobody gets to stay here permanently. None of us likes it when our friends leave the party, but we all have to go home sometime.

But there is good news. I have no pain. I'm still functional in terms of being able to do most of the things I want to do. That's not true of many with bone metastasis. I have friends in that condition, and they have a lot of pain. I feel pretty much normal. That may change, but for now, I'm very thankful that I feel OK. Physically, at least.

And that's not the only good news. I've always had an incredible support system, but it just got a whole lot better. And not just for me. For my wife, too. Maybe especially for her. I can't describe how much that helps. The love and support that I received this week got me through this week. I know that will continue for both my wife and me. We are immensely grateful.

I don't want to go into detail now about possible treatments. I'll only reiterate what I've said before. No chemo for me. I'll take hormone treatment for as long as it works, and I'll try some alternative treatments. Maybe there's a clinical trial I can get into. I'll be transparent about all of it. I owe you that.

There will be much more to talk about in future posts. I want to talk about my attitude towards mortality. I want to explain my decisions. And much more. But that's for later. For now, I only want to say that I am still at peace. I still know that I am loved. I know that now more than ever before. I have a renewed commitment to do what I can, while I can. I'm blessed that I'm still able to do some things that are important to me. Time is of the essence.

And I still say that if I could go back in time and change all of this, I wouldn't do it. Not if it meant that I had to go back to how things were before I woke up. I'd rather love and be loved while awake for a short time than sleepwalk in selfishness for decades and never know this much love, or feel God this close.

I know you don't feel that way about my cancer, and about this news. I know that your heart breaks for me, my wife, and my family. For your anticipated loss. That's why I feel so loved.

I'll post again soon, when I've had a chance to process all of this. But just knowing that you're reading this right now helps a lot. Knowing that you care is helping me put one foot in front of the other. Your prayers, messages and calls help more than you can imagine. Thanks again for your support. Thanks for being here. Love is the gift in the wound. #waroncancer


  1. I'm so very sorry for how your test results have turned out, Mark. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and posting your blogs. I read every one of them and keep you & Sharon in my prayers. You have an amazing attitude and are an inspiration to so many. I'm glad that you aren't feeling pain and pray that will continue! May God continue to guide you and bless you even through this difficult stage of life.

  2. Mark, I'm so grieved to read of this latest development in your journey. I promise to lift you and Sharon up in prayer. One thing I know for certain is that suffering always draws me closer to my Savior. When I'm in it, it's difficult to be grateful. It's only later that I come to know that God was in it all along. I have know idea, what you're going through with this news, as I have not experienced it, but please know that I'm praying for you.

  3. Mark, I am soo sorry to hear this news! I hope that once the dust settles you and your doctor/oncologist come up with a plan of attack and beat this! I don't know much about the PC spreading to the bones. I couldn't read your whole has me crying for you and your family...I'll finish up later. Godspeed to you my friend, Godspeed to you!!

  4. You know we adore you. We're right here. Xo Christopher & Lori

  5. Mark, you are a wonderful blogger. I am praying for God's grace on you and your family. Losing your cross for the short time that it was gone is how I found your blogs so, don't apologize for it. You touch more lives than you know. May God bless you and keep you all safe in his love and Know that we are praying for you, always.

  6. The good part is like you said no unnecessary radiation treatments that would have given you all kinds of bowel problems that are giving me a terrible time these days in stage IV. Now that i have had chemo and it was pointless i wish i had skipped that too. I am however going to try Radium 223 or Oxfigo. It is less invasive than chemo. Adds another 3.5 months on average. Good luck Mark, God Bless you, i keep you n my prayers.

  7. Mark, With this new news please know that I am continuing to pray for you and Sharon. Thanks for this blog and for your inspirational attitude and way you are depending on God for everything!

  8. Mark,
    With this new news please know that I am continuing to pray for you and Sharon. Thank you for your inspirational attitude and the way you are depending on God for everything!

  9. Heartbroken. Stupid cancer. I love you.

    1. I know, Sweetie. Love you too. Call me when you can.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. You are incredibly strong and are helping the rest of us out there understand how it is for our loved ones with cancer. God bless you.