Archive | April, 2011

Eighth Day of the Week

Scan my bones, Jones! (Official T-shirt of the Prostate Cancer Foundation)

Today was Scanday, the day between Wednesday and Thursday, of two CT scans and one bone scan at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The scans are in preparation for my almost-certain radiation treatment…depending still on a third medical opinion a week off. An uneventful, information-free Scanday.

Except for the young man, the very young man, sitting opposite me in the waiting room. In his 20s, there with his mom, drinking the same contrast solution I was, and wearing a patient i.d. wristlet like mine. One of the mind games I play in the waiting room of the cancer ward is to try to guess what kind of cancer someone has — an impossible game of no consequence whatsoever, but one that does put my senses on alert for clues and ambient conversations.

Across the aisle, May 5, 2008: Man #1: “Are you a bone-marrow transplant, too?”

Man #2, tapping his right abdomen: “Pancreatic.”

Fast forward to the young man today. I couldn’t glean enough to learn what his cancer is or what stage it’s in. I merely drank in his wristband, his mom, his presence in the cancer ward — and his raw youth: so much life ahead. Maybe. And I recalled what my dad would say when he’d hear of someone else’s straits:

“I got no problems today.”

Hooked on a Feelin’

I’m now on the calendar for three scans in anticipation of radiation to deal with my just-won’t-go-away prostate cancer. Two CT scans, one bone scan. We’re nearing a decision, but — pending new information — the contours in favor of radiation already draw themselves.

My prostate-cancer friend, Tom, wisely observed in an email, “My approach in dealing with my cancer was that there was no room for second-guessing. Whatever feels right is right…and then deal with whatever comes next.”

Whatever feels right.

Indeed. All my attitudes and values about how I deal with my first cancer, how I counter it, and what I do at each step — they all interlace themselves into one, single, solitary feeling: It just doesn’t feel right to walk away from radiation.

Just doesn’t feel right to kick the can down the road and hope for something better after things get worse.

Or as Lora, an ovarian cancer survivor and one of my heroes, told me: “You need to kick ass every chance you get.”

Decisions, decisions…

April 4, 2011, Blood Draw

Spent this afternoon at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance — quarterly blood draw and Radiation 101, my very first consultation on the possibility of rad therapy to my pelvis. There’s a lot to chew on:

There’s good reason to believe the offending cancer is in my pelvis, but no certainty. There’s good reason to believe my cancer is microscopic, given my minuscule level of PSA (0.11). There’s some chance this could be a cure, but a greater chance that it’ll resurface somewhere else later. There’s some chance of long-term side effects Down There, but many of them can be treated.

Bottom line: The rad oncologist says he’d do it. So does my oncologist, knowing me as he does.

I’ve talked with cancer buddies who’ve confronted the radiation option. The decision to go ahead with it (or not) seems to turn on the hinge of values and attitudes, not on the  chance of success or the possibility of nasty side effects. Kristina put it this way: “I told myself that at each stage of my cancer, I’d do whatever I could.” And she wanted to send a message to her cancer: “You give me any trouble, I’ll come after you.”

While percentages and probabilities are derived from really large groups of people, for any one of us — you or me — the results are either 100 per cent or 0 per cent: It works or it doesn’t.

The flip of a coin.