Wednesday, October 8, 2014

PART XXIX: Monitoring the spreading of prostate cancer cells

Another big trip to the city!

Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre
Yes, to meet with our urologist. He's not just into urology, but he did hubby's robotic surgery, as well, he's been monitoring hubby's disease.

It's been a journey, and our destination is 83 km away. Unfortunately, it is 17 km short of being able to claim tax deductions for parking (~$13/visit), mileage (83 km x 2/visit), meals on our journey, and the like.

Infographic from
Prostate Cancer Canada
 For those who have asked, we appreciate your concern. Some days it's like a ticking time bomb. It helps to talk about it, read about it, understand where we are, and avoid horribilising it, living in the land of reality.

Ask Questions of the professionals - don't use Google!

Some avoid information, or don't ask questions when they don't understand, or find misinformation. This can result in making bad treatment decisions. Radiation had a huge impact on my ill father, giving him an infection and delirium, which went undiagnosed in the ER. Chemo seemed to make my late mom worse, and had no chance of curing her. It really changed her quality of life.

Joe's PSA cancer cells have escaped prior to surgery and migrated somewhere and the trick is to monitor and watch for them. There are keys for getting through this.

The body is an interesting thing. I found, through a Webinar held by Prostate Cancer Canada, that
Discuss options with your doctor 
many men with prostate cancer die from something other than cancer. It is the most treatable, and Canadian doctors are in the forefront of research and techniques. We donate $ billions for research, but we don't really know where the money goes.

Prostate Cancer is a slow-growing type of cancerous cell, and very common in older men. Almost as if the prostate just wears out before its time, and their cells begin to grow wrong. That's all cancer is, really. All the violence and the battle imagery is totally wrong and needless. You must question, why is your body creating cancer cells? For some men and women: diet, exercise, lack of sleep, stress, and toxins can be factors. You can change certain aspects of your life, if you have the self-control, but some cancer simply cannot be explained. Hubby has lost 30 lbs., exercises daily, has gone to a Naturopath to help his stomach issues, and has seen much improvement. He is in top shape to manage his treatments, when they arise.

For those who perceive cancerous cells as some foreign thing, using personification to declare war on 'the cancer', they must understand that it is one's own body creating these cells that grow rapidly, grow wrongly, and overtake 'normal' cells. I found it helpful to draw them, from an image in a book that helped me understand cancer: Pinzone, J.J.: Fireballs in my Eucharist: Fight Cancer Smarter. 


Men aged 60 - 70 have a 64% prevalence rate of cancerous cells in their prostate, men over age 65 = 65%, but it doesn't necessarily kill them. Only 3.5% of USA men die of prostate cancer.

We are in the 'watchful waiting' stage of treatment, having had surgery to remove the cancerous cells.

A further option: Hormone Therapy.

Huggins won Nobel prize for this.
Did you know?

Gleason 1 - 5
At a score of Gleason 7+ Dr. Joshua said
you don't know how it will behave. 
Understand staging, and what your individual cancer diagnosis means at this point in time.

 How can you cope?

Firstly, were are on appointment #XXIX. Seriously. Between a slightly elevated PSA count, not THAT unusual, and trips to the local urologist. Then a biopsy, then another consult. It goes on as they check all this out.
 I have found coping strategies.

Smile, dear. Selfie.
  • Using the iPad to take notes. This is a serious method, since I can type as quickly as our speedy physician talks. The medical student and our doctor, were amazed at my speed! 
  • Do not go to appointments alone. (You can find a driver through local community Cancer Society or Hospice volunteers, as well as someone, like myself, who will take notes for you during an appointment. Go to 211Ontario for more info, or ask your CCAC Case Manager.)
  • Using the iPad to take silly photos of ourselves.
  • People watching. (There is always someone worse off than ourselves.)
  • Laughing with people in the waiting rooms.
  • Keep things in perspective. 
  • Spoil yourself. You deserve it!
  • Laugh a lot, and often. 
  • Use Complementary and Alternative Therapies
    Complementary and Alternative Therapies
  • We all must deal with the end of our lives. There are people out there who can help.  Canadian Virtual Discussion Forums are great.
  • Talk to people about your journey. What I found difficult, were the secrets kept from loved ones. Disease trajectory is an important part of managing the journey. Ask your nurse, CCAC case manager, or local society ( e.g., Prostate Cancer Canada, ALS Society)

Good story: people watching

 There were 4 people together in the waiting room. It looked like a married adult son/daughter and spouse, who were there to support the parents. The father looked 80 or so, and while being tall, he was frail. The daughter was handing the father money for the parking, methinks. She had been holding his ring and wallet while he went in for a treatment. She accidentally dropped a $100 bill. She picked it up. Then she dropped the bill again. Her mother suggested she wasn't doing her job very well and might be fired! Those of us around her giggled. 
    I reached out and said, "As long as you're throwing it around...!"
There is a certain sense of camaraderie.

What else helps?

  • Being out in nature. 
  • Focusing on the present.
  • Ignoring that 'what if' train. Don't let it enter your mind.
  • Make a decision and know you made the best one with the information you have at the time.
  • If you are feeling down, avoid the news, or only listen to one broadcast per day. What a downer it can be!
  • Get help as caregiver, if you need it. I have ended up with high blood pressure, chest pains sent me to the ER in March, and these are back. Don't ignore personal issues, as stress can be a horrible thing. I'm having a stress test today!
  • Give yourself permission to feel the emotions you feel and deal with them. They aren't wrong. They just are.
  • Enjoy EVERY DAY, including rain, snow, sleet and hail!
  • Finding hobbies; like photography, pets, blogging, walking, volunteering, watching sports (MLB) , or collecting data.

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