Saturday, April 29, 2017

What Makes A Difference

I was taking my supplements this morning, and a thought occurred to me. I take quite a few supplements, mostly for my bones, since I have osteoporsis from hormone treatment. I take Glucosamine, Magnesium, Calcium, and vitamins C, D, and K2 every morning. I also take local bee pollen for my allergies (highly recommended - it'll change your life if you have pollen allergies) and wash it all down with orange juice spiked with a fiber supplement.

Once you add in the four Xtandi horse pills I take every morning, that's a lot of pills. So as I was taking all of those pills this morning, I couldn't help but wonder if they make any difference. The only ones I know for sure are making a difference are Xtandi, bee pollen, and the fiber supplement. I've been taking the last two for years. I can testify as to their effectiveness. My last two PSA tests have shown Xtandi to be very effective. But the rest of them? Who can tell?

My oncologist wants me to take calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D in certain amounts for my bones, so I'm following doctor's orders on those. But I'm still not convinced they're doing anything. Someone on Facebook said I should take K2 to help my bones absorb the calcium and magnesium, so I'm taking that, but again, how do I know if it's making a difference? I don't. There's no way to know.

Of course, the phrase making a difference takes on a specific meaning when you have cancer. It means, is it helping my body fight the cancer? Is it strengthening my bones? Is it doing more than making me feel like I'm fighting? Would my results be any different if I were taking a placebo? I have no idea. But I keep taking those supplements.

I haven't done chemo, nor do I intend to, but my friend Christopher Charles Caminiti has. He completed a full treatment. But his doctors can't tell him if chemo has done him any good. It has made a difference; it's torn his body down and made him feel worse, but nobody can tell him if it's helped with his cancer. It doesn't seem like it has.

I suppose there will be a bone density scan in my future to see if the Xgeva shots I'm getting every month are making a difference with my osteoporosis, but as of yet, I don't know if that's making any difference either.

I completed my cannabis oil suppository treatment program at the end of February, and now I'm on a low "maintenance" dose. Did it make a difference? Again, there's no way to tell. My PSA has been incredibly low for a Stage 4 prostate cancer patient who still has his prostate, but that could be Lupron and Xtandi alone. However, that may be put to the test in a little over a week, when I get my next PSA test. If my PSA has crept up a little, I may go back to a full dose of the suppositories for a few weeks and test again, to see if the number goes back down. That would be a good way to see if it's making a real difference with my cancer, rather than just helping me sleep.

I'll tell you what makes a difference for me. The love of family and friends. Being with those closest to me. And the random acts of kindness and support I continue to receive. Those things make a huge difference. Maybe not in what my next test result will be, but in making this journey easier and better. In reminding me that I'm not alone.

I woke up sad this morning, just missing absent friends. Because being with them makes such a difference. But then I went to a rehearsal that I'd been looking forward to, and that made a difference. I didn't do much, but just being there with them feeds my soul.

On my way there, I stopped and checked the Post Office Box that I use for business. In it was a key to a larger box. We hadn't ordered any checks, so I couldn't imagine what might be in there. I pulled the box out, and it was heavy. What could it be? I couldn't wait, and opened it in the car. When I saw what was inside, I laughed with delight.

It was from a friend who I've worked with at ministry training events like the one where I sang and spoke a few weeks ago. I posted the video on YouTube and shared it on Facebook and Twitter a while back, but if you missed it, you can see it here. Her name is Brenda Marshall. We discovered, somehow, years ago, that we both like black licorice. And we were the only ones who worked these events who did. So when we worked together, one of us would invariably bring black licorice. The fact that nobody liked it but us meant we got all of it!

I'm not sure if Brenda still works those events, but I haven't for a few years. There's no way I'd have the energy to work one now. You're on your feet pretty much all day. So Brenda and I will probably never be able to share a bag of black licorice again, since she lives in Texas, and I live in Colorado. We haven't seen each other for years, but she's kept in touch on Facebook since my diagnosis. When I opened the box I got in the mail today, it was full of black licorice, with a note that said:

And you thought I forgot! 
Enjoy, my friend! 

I didn't remember her promising to send me licorice, or even having a conversation about it, but when I messaged Brenda to thank her, she said she thought it would make me feel better. Guess what? It did. It made a difference in my day. Check this out:

Two kinds of black licorice, black jelly beans, and two kinds of black licorice candy. And not the cheap stuff! I've already gotten into a couple of them, and I will make good use of the rest of them over the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much, Brenda! You really made a difference.

No comments from the food police, please. This is a gift from a friend, and I really don't believe it will make one bit of difference in my outcome. But it does make a difference in how I feel.

And if you don't like black licorice, go put yourself in time out. More for Brenda and me.

Then, as I sat down to write this post, someone from our former church called to check in on me. A dear lady who is in her eighties, and who I've always regarded as a saint. Several years ago, our worship pastor asked us to find someone in the church and ask them to support us in prayer. This was the person I asked to pray for me. Her name in Lois Golden. She prays for me still, every day. She calls me every once in a while, and makes sure her Sunday School class and Bible study group know what's going on so they know how to pray for me.

We only talked for a few minutes, but before we said goodbye, she asked to pray with me. I was more than happy to have her do that. I think she quoted three or four scripture references in her prayer, complete with book, chapter and verse. She is a woman of God, which is why I asked her to pray for me in the first place. I've said before in this blog that I love being prayed for, but being prayed with is much better. Especially when a saint like Lois is praying with you. That made a huge difference.

Here's the point. Many of us in prostate cancer treatment, and maybe all cancer treatment, wonder if all the hoops we jump through to try to fight this disease make any difference. But we can all testify that the support and love we receive from others makes a huge difference. You make a difference. Thanks to everyone who makes a difference in my life. #waroncancer


  1. Any black licorice pipes or cigars? Looks like you got a great spread for a licorice party. Great for the bowels, I think.

  2. Yes, Peter, Come on down! Let's have a licorice party! Praying for you, brother.