Friday, June 16, 2017

On The Move

I got my PSA result from yesterday. It's .98. That's almost tripled in the last month, and nearly into whole numbers. The number is still in the "normal" range, but as my oncologist says, it's not about the number, it's about the trend. The trend is in the wrong direction, and it's rising fast. If we keep doing what we've been doing, it will be in the abnormal range very soon. My cancer is on the move again.

My oncologist thought this number significant enough to have one of the nurses call me with this result. Normally, I find it out online. That tells me something. He wanted me to hear it from a person I like and trust.

The above chart is from my online page. It shows the trend from my last three tests. The purpose of getting tested again only a month after my last test was to see if the last rise was just random fluctuation. To get another "data point," as my oncologist put it. Well, we have our answer. As we suspected, the combination of Lupron and Xtandi only kept my cancer under control for a few months.

I'm not sure what our options are at this point. After 21 months of hormone treatment and two full rounds of cannabis oil treatment, one oral and one suppository, we're back at square one. That's what my oncologist and I will talk about on Tuesday. I hate having to wait that long to have that conversation, but he couldn't see me today or Monday.

I'm doing okay with this news. It didn't hit me as hard as the last number. This was expected. It just confirms what we thought was happening.

I'm gonna try hard this weekend not to speculate too much about what the future might hold. Believe it or not, this is not the worst news we've received in the past couple of weeks. The worst news we got was financial in nature. It will severely restrict my ability to seek alternative treatments, and it will force us to burn through my little IRA much faster than we thought we would, just to pay our bills. This will be as much a factor in our decision making as anything.

But it's not time to make any decisions yet. We don't have all of the information we need. I'm pretty sure my oncologist will order a new bone scan and an MRI of my sore left shoulder to see if they can find evidence of my cancer spreading any further. And we'll talk about treatments that might still be available to me.

To any who say I shouldn't be concerned about this, that the number is still very low, I would point you to my past history with this disease. My PSA when I was diagnosed was 15.8. After my first Lupron shot, it went down to 4.00, then to 1.42. It stayed there for nearly a year, then started rising, to 1.97, then 2.7, where it was when my bone mets were found in a bone scan, then 4.77, right before I started taking Xtandi late last September. Xtandi pushed that number down to .16, then .06 last March. But that only lasted for two months. My PSA started rising again in May, and is continuing to rise now, just like it did before. If an effective new treatment that I will accept isn't available at no cost, my cancer will continue to multiply exponentially, with each rise orders of magnitude higher than the last.

I apologize to any who are close to me who might have expected a call or a text about this news. It's been my history to do that, but this time, I thought I'd wait till I talk with my oncologist, so we can have a more informed conversation. I'm not gonna jump to any conclusions about this just yet. We have a few months to let things play out before we need to make any final decisions.

Just know this. My wife and I are in complete agreement in our philosophy and beliefs about this. Any decisions will be made by both of us. When the time comes, I'll have her write a paragraph in her own words so you know how she feels.

I also know how you feel about this, and I love you right back. But before you inundate me with treatment suggestions, remember my post The Suggestion Box. And please also read Explaining Myself... Again if you haven't already. Then you'll have a good idea of what our priorities are. My living longer is not necessarily at the top of the list.

I have lots more to say, but those things should probably wait for future posts. I want to talk about "fighting," and why I don't understand why cancer is put in those terms when no other disease is. I want to talk about mortality, and try to explain my attitude towards it. I want to talk about trusting God, and what that means to me. I want to give you the best picture of my marriage that I can, so you won't feel like I'm being selfish. On the contrary, I am prepared to make the most selfless decision I could possibly make, to benefit the one I love the most.

I'm gonna try to have a good weekend and put this out of my mind as much as I can. I still feel good except for the pain in my left shoulder, and the constant fatigue that limits everything I do. I have rehearsals with the rock band school for kids starting on Monday for our summer show. I'm very much looking forward to that. I have recording equipment to sell, and a 40th anniversary party to get ready for. I have life to live yet, and I'm not anywhere near done. Cancer will eventually have its way with me, but not yet. Not yet. #waroncancer #bearingwitness


  1. Thanks for the update. I know you and Sharon will make the absolute right decision for you. I will be anxious to hear about your appointment on Tuesday. Sandy

  2. As I told you, I was very saddened by the news of the rise in your PSA. I love your warrior attitude, and stand in awe at your unwavering faith. Love you Mark