May 1 Prostate Cancer Treatment Update
On Wednesday (Apr 28) I got a lot more info during a telehealth call with the radiation doctor. Dr. Shasah was following up on prior Wednesday's three tests – a full-body MRI, a pelvis CT scan and full-body nuclear medicine imaging. There was no evidence of any tumors anywhere, so as of now there must be just a small number of cancerous prostate cells, most likely in the tissue that was surrounding the removed prostate. Based on that, he initiated therapy appointments, most which are yet to be confirmed. Friday, however, was confirmed as the beginning of my therapy.
Thursday (Apr 29) – This colonoscopy was completed to be sure I don't have colon cancer, which would change the treatment approach. Of some concern, more than the normal number (2-5) of polyps were found – a total of 11 in my case. Fortunately, all were small and removed. This means I need to have another colonoscopy in a year rather than in ten years, just to see if anything is going on that might need to be dealt with.
Friday (Apr 30) – I received my first hormone shot, Leuprolide (Lupron), which got injected into fat in my abdomen. It is really a tiny pellet which dissolves slowly over three months – and, yes, as the nurse indicated it would, it stung when first injected. I'm told I can expect a bit of pain in that area over several days – so far nothing very bothersome. This followed establishing my baseline EKG, PSA. and bone density in order to track potential changes due to the hormone and radiation therapy. The only desired change would be the PSA, which will drop to zero and, ideally, stays at zero for the rest of my life, meaning I die due to something other than prostate cancer.
June 2 (scheduled) – A mapping session to take a cast of my abdominal/pelvic area, and also tattoo some targets on my pelvis. These will be my very first tattoos!!!
June 21 (est) – This would be the start of 40 weekdays of radiation. Each session will take about half an hour. I'm not supposed to drink coffee, but am otherwise free to eat/drink whatever I want. I'm not sure if that just means what I drink before each session or for the duration of the radiation therapy. Probably the latter, but I will ask for confirmation, simply because, if I could, I would have coffee after the session. Anyway, I'm told I can schedule the session for whenever I want in terms of time of day.
July 30 (scheduled) – This is my second – and hopefully, my last forever – hormone shot.
Aug 16 (est) – The 40 days should end, assuming one makeup day for the 4th of July holiday.
Paul and the kids (and hopefully Sophie, depending upon visa issue resolution) currently plan to be in the US from Aug 6-23. I highly doubt that my therapy will prevent me from enjoying their visit. Yes, I could more tired than usual, but the radiation won’t cause nausea or vomiting or any of those things that chemo can cause. They say I’ll need to “pee and poop” a bit more as well. That sounds manageable.
In summary, the good news is that none of the scans done last week showed anything detectable. That means the cancer is probably sitting right where the prostate was, but probably just too small to appear on a scan. I'm told that means there’s a 70% chance that this whack will be permanent – no remission. It will be interesting (to say the least) to learn whether this actually turns out to be true in my case.