Tuesday, October 18, 2016

So Far, So Good

I got good news today. After months of rising PSA numbers, and after a Lupron shot a month ago that did nothing to stop a precipitous rise in that number, and after having taken Xtandi for only two weeks, my PSA result from yesterday's blood draw was 1.3. That's the lowest it's been since I was diagnosed. It's very good news indeed.

When I was diagnosed in August of 2015, my PSA was 15.8. Anything above 4.00 is considered abnormal. After my first Lupron shot back then (I almost said back there - Freudian slip), my PSA went down to 4.00, then later, 1.42. So 1.3 is a great number. My doctor and I are both surprised that I responded so quickly to Xtandi. He said he was "pumped" about it. Me too.

I've heard that Xtandi can take a while to show results. I went in today not knowing what to expect, but I would have been encouraged if the rise in my PSA had simply been slowed. Something between five and six would have been seen as a good sign by everyone involved. So this number makes us all very happy.

Before I went to my appointment today, I got a call from the pharmacy that sends Xtandi to me. They wanted to know if they should send my next bottle. I told the pharmacist to go ahead, that I was sure my oncologist would want me to continue taking it for a while regardless of today's result. Now I have a big fat confirmation that I made the right call.

One of my best friends says that Lupron has made me "sweet." I suppose it's true. I'm definitely more emotional, more sentimental, and more prone to bless others. When I told him I was starting on another testosterone blocker, he asked if it would make me "extra sweet." I don't think so, but maybe I haven't felt the full effects yet. If I get any sweeter, I'll be downright sickening.

The only side effect I've seen from Xtandi has been a couple of sores around the outside of my lips that went away after a few days. Not like a cold sore, in fact, I'm not sure what they were like. I put some lip balm on them before I went to bed one night last week, and they were gone the next morning. If that's as bad as side effects get from Xtandi, I can handle that.

The question is, the way my oncologist put it, how much mileage will I get out of Xtandi? Only time will tell. I'm due for my next Lupron shot in January. That's when I'll get my next PSA test. If my number is still low after the new year, so far, so good.

I saw a guy I know last week who's been on Xtandi for ten years, and he says it's kept his cancer under control for all of that time. Given how long Lupron alone worked for me, I have my doubts as to whether I'll get that much time from this drug. But we'll see. I'll take whatever time I get from it.

I still feel a little discomfort from the dental work I had done last week, so we will wait to start with the Xgeva shots to strengthen my bones against the cancer in my spine. Assuming we're still on track at that point, I'll get that shot the same day I get my next Lupron shot.

The image featured at the top of this post is of a prayer quilt that was made by some ladies at a church my wife and I attended for 34 years. I hadn't heard of prayer quilts before, but the pastor's wife contacted me and asked if they could make me one. We haven't attended this church for a few years now, but they wanted to offer us this blessing anyway, purely out of love and concern for my wife and me. There are knots tied on the front side of it, and each knot represents a prayer that was said for us. On the back side, this patch is sown in:

We were very touched by this gesture, as you can well imagine. The quilt hangs displayed in our home now as a reminder that we are loved and prayed for. That we are covered in prayer. We are very blessed.

This has been an eventful couple of months. From a rising PSA to a new bone scan and MRI; from finding out I'm Stage 4 and getting a disquieting prognosis to this news today. I've had a lot to write about. Now it seems that things will quiet down for a while. I won't have as much hard news to report. Hopefully. I hope you'll stay with me when the story isn't quite as exciting as it's been recently.

I don't know how long Xtandi will keep my cancer under control. I hope it's for a long, long time. But here is what I do know. I know that God is good. I know that I am loved. I know that I will keep writing this blog to give you this window on what it's like to fight this disease, at least for me. Please keep praying for me. I can feel your prayers.

Today is a very good day. I think it's the start of many good days to come. I can feel it. Love to you all, and to the One from who all good gifts come. #waroncancer


  1. Once again, beautifully written. I love your words, they are very toiching. I am so happy for your good news, today. God has a plan and you are as always, a big part of it. God bless you

  2. So happy to hear this good news! I love you, Mark!

  3. Great news!! How's the ice cream coming 😁

    1. My last ice cream try was a fail, I'm afraid, Adam. Gotta keep trying till I get it just right!

  4. Wonderful news!!!! Can we all get on the "I'm pumped!" bandwagon?
    Love you!

  5. Excellent news, Mark!! This makes me very happy! Love you!

  6. It is always a blessing to read your posts. They are insightful, informational and positive. We are happy for the good news, God is good. You are such a blessing in so many peoples lives. Our prayers are always with you.