Well, we survived another year and another winter. Springtime is upon us and there is so much to do, but I won’t bore you with a list. It would be a rather long list and I don’t quite feel like typing THAT much on this post. I know I’ve said it many times before, but springtime is my favorite season. I have an old 1965 Chevy pickup and I love to roll my windows down and the ride around, looking at people’s yards, carpeted with fresh green grass, and bedecked with white dogwoods and pink azaleas. The sun is brighter in the spring, the sky is bluer, and the air is cleaner and fresher. There is a resurrection of life taking place all around us, a constant reminder of another resurrection that is celebrated in the springtime. Happy Easter, everyone. He is risen.
“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” ~Martin Luther
Well, I had decided to quit blogging, given my circumstances, but I’ve changed my mind. My PSA doubling rate was 2.2 months. Anything under 3 months does not carry a good prognosis. However, through a combination of different interventions and God’s grace I’ve managed to stretch the doubling rate out to 12.6 months. That is much better. My oncologist has a particular clinical trial he wants me to participate in, but my PSA must be a 2 before I am eligible. Right now, I have “rising-PSA-only recurrent prostate cancer”. That means my PSA is rising, but there is no evidence of disease yet. If I can maintain a doubling rate of 12.6 months, I will not be eligible for a clinical trial for 4 years. However, I’ve found a recent study where the PSA doubling rate in “rising-PSA-only recurrent prostate cancer” patients (like me) was extended from an average of 10 months to over 24 months with the use of Avodart. Avodart is actually a hair loss drug. It works by keeping your body from converting testosterone to DHT which is another form of testosterone that causes male pattern baldness. Prostate cancer is a hormonal cancer and testosterone is the food that feeds it. However, DHT is like a superfood for prostate cancer. Will I get the same results? I don’t know, but if I do get the same results, My PSA should not reach a 2 for about 9.4 years. The trial my doctor wants to get into uses an immunotherapy technology called BiTE. In a nutshell, they train my immune system to go after cells with PSMA on their surface. Initial results are showing very robust responses, but it’s way to early to know how durable these responses will be. That’s why I want to delay the trial for as long as possible. If I can delay the start date for 9.4 to 10 years, that will take me to the age of 70. If the response is not a complete and durable response and I only get 5 years from the treatment, that will take me to the age of 75. However, in 10 years this BiTE therapy, if successful, should be an FDA approved treatment and there are even more treatments in the pipelines. Some companies are making great inroads on the CAR T-Cell therapy on hard tumors. CAR T-cell therapy is cure for lymphoma. If they can figure out how to get past the tumor microenvironment, then it may very well become a cure for prostate cancer and breast cancer. At any rate, without the opportunity of receiving one of these new treatments by participating in a clinical trial, my estimated life span is 4 to 6 years (providing I stay healthy). I’ve missed writing and although I am starting back on this blog, this is my last post on my prostate cancer. I’ve seen far too many blogs where newly diagnosed men start the blog talking about how they are going to fight this disease and beat it. Just about all of them end with a post from the wife informing everyone that her husband lost his battle with the disease. I don’t know if I will beat it. I do know the odds are against me and the statistics are not in my favor, but what will be, will be. God has blessed be far more than I deserve, and if this disease takes me out of this world, I will leave with a humble and grateful heart, full of praise for God’s blessings in my life.
Well, it’s ironic that my last post, just yesterday too, was about making lemonade when life gives you lemons. I’ve been given some lemons that I’m not sure I can do anything with.
In 2018 I was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. It was locally advanced, meaning that all of the cancer they could detect was located in the abdominal area. So, I went for the cure – surgery, followed by 35 weeks of radiation, followed by 16 weeks of chemotherapy. I also started ADT when I was first diagnosed and continued that for 2 years.
I’ve been off all treatments for 2 years now and my PSA has been 0.000. My oncologist was becoming hopeful that we had beat it and was going to change my checkups and labs from every 3 months to every 6 months, but my last PSA came back at 0.014. We retested again 6 weeks later (yesterday) and it came back at 0.049. It has not reached the level to be considered a biochemical recurrence, but it is on the way and moving quickly (it tripled in 6 weeks).
So what does this mean? It means I will go back on ADT and stay on it until it fails. ADT lowers your testosterone to castrate levels. It keeps you alive, for a while, but there are side effects. Tiredness, weight gain, constant hot flashes. Also, long term use can lead to osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
How long will ADT give me? No one knows. Two years? Maybe five? Maybe longer, but the answer is no one knows. It varies from person to person. What will I do when it fails? I will probably try Provenge, a therapy that turns your immune system against the cancer. This is not a cure either, just another therapy that will also eventually fail, but it might buy me a couple more years. After that? Maybe Zytiga, although that therapy shuts down the adrenal glands and I will likely be on prednisone for the rest of my life, however long that may be.
Anyhow, I’m dealing with a terminal disease now and being only 59 years old, it is highly likely I will die from this. If I were 70 years old, all of the therapies and treatments available would possibly keep me alive until I died from some other age related ailment. My hope is that the therapies available will keep me alive until some breakthrough treatment becomes available.
Anyhow, I am facing a giant and I need to focus my energies on getting my affairs in order and making sure my precious wife is taken care of if God decides to call me home. This is my last post on the blog. It was never my intent to gain a large following or to monetize this, I just enjoyed writing. For the handful of people who follow this blog, thank you. For Sebastion, who “likes” all of my posts, thank you.
As far as the farm goes, it’s not my dream anymore. The days I have left, however few or however many, will be spent loving my family.
I’m sure you have all heard the expression, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The meaning behind that old adage is that being a victim of any given circumstance is often a choice. For example, let’s say you win $1000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket and before you can blow that money on something fun, your car breaks down and it costs $989 to repair it. There are two ways to look at this…
We can play the victim and react with a negative attitude of, “Every time I get a little extra money, something breaks!” or…
We be thankful and react with a grateful attitude of, “Every time something breaks, I get a little extra money!”
See the difference?
Life has served us a big dump truck of lemons recently and we’re having to make a whole lot of lemonade with it. We had some water damage to the hardwood floors around an interior chimney. This damage occurred in a small room that we never use. The floors were covered with a large area rug, so we did not know the extent of the damage until we moved all the furniture out and rolled up the rug. It was bad.
Years ago, we had the underside of our floors sprayed with closed-cell foam. The guys who sprayed the foam on the bottom of the floor also sprayed it on the brick surface of this interior chimney, from the floor all the way down to the foundation. This plugged up all weep holes and effectively sealed the masonry structure so that water could not escape. Over time, water accumulated in the structure and had no where to escape until it reached the top of the foam. Then it had an escape path over the top of the foam, beneath our floors.
To shorten this story a LOT, suffice it to say that Nationwide sent an engineer down to determine the entry point of the water and his ridiculous claim is that our crawlspace is excessively damp and this “dampness” somehow managed to penetrate through 6 inches of closed-cell foam and a layer of asphalt roofing paper to warp our hardwoods and rot the subfloor beneath them. This “engineer” never even examined our crawlspace, but none-the-less, Nationwide has denied our claim based on his report which has led me to hire my own engineer and a lawyer. We will settle this in court, but until then, I must make these repairs myself and pay for these expenses out-of-pocket. How much? I don’t know, but ServePro, who specializes in water damage repairs, estimated the costs at approximately $23,000. That’s a LOT of lemons!!!!
So how do we make lemonade from that? It would be so easy to despair and very difficult to view this as anything but a major catastrophe but, it’s quite simple. Changing one word does the trick….
From: This is a major catastrophe.
To: This is a major remodel.
For years my wife has been wanting to open the den up to the adjacent room by tearing out a built-in entertainment center and bookcase. Sounds simple but doing this would require tearing out existing crown molding, patching the ceiling, re-routing electrical wires and HVAC ductwork, tearing out baseboard and existing hardwood floors, patching sheetrock, putting trim back up, putting new floors down, and repainting everything. This was a job I did not want to undertake, not only because of the costs involved, but also because of the time and effort. But now I must do it, so we are shopping for new floors, picking out new colors, new rugs, and new curtains. We are planning on whitewashing the brick and building a floor-to-ceiling mantle in the den as well as hanging a new exterior door to boot!
The point of this story is that this “tragedy” that should have brought us “despair” has turned into an “opportunity” that is bringing us “joy”. You know what month this is? That’s right! It’s November and you know what holiday we celebrate in November? This year, count your blessings. Look for something positive in everything life throws your way. Choose to be thankful and grateful. They are the two key ingredients in the recipe for happiness.
“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.” ~Anonymous
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came –
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.
Then, in rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”
~ George Cooper