I was feeling fine and didn’t know anything was wrong but one day my primary doctor called and said there might be a problem. He explained my PSA test was up by one point and that I should consult with a urologist.
Well I did go see a urologist and after several tests in January 2019 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
That changed everything in my life for a while learning about the cancer. What ate the options for treatment. I felt great but there was something wrong inside that I couldn’t ignore.
The first test I was given after it was determined my PSA was elevated was a test for RNA that prostate cancer makes. The RNA is made by a gene PCA3 that is overactive in most prostate cancer patients. For more information about the test click here. I tested high with this test confirming the cancer.
Next tests were MRI and CAT scans to see if the cancer might have spread to other parts of my body.
Lucky for me these test came back with no detectable cancer other than prostate. That just means for the moment they can’t see any cancer anywhere. It doesn’t mean there is no spreading but the chances are it didn’t spread.
After these test were finished I had to have an biopsy of the prostate to see how much cancer and how dangerous the cancer is. The biopsy was no joke. You get a device put into your bottom and they use a sound scanning machine to look at your prostate. Then through that device they inject an anesthetic to numb the gland and then take 12 samples for the biopsy.
There was one spot that showed a Gleason count of 8 (3-5) which is considered bad. For more information about Gleason score Click Here. I consider the findings as lucky for me because they don’t take big samples so it would be easy to miss the cancer. Lucky for me they did find my cancer.
Then the question was what to do about this. There are several options to treat prostate cancer. The two big treatments are prostatectomy or external beam radiation. I decided on the radiation and that meant I had to be given hormone treatments first.
Firmagon vs Lupron
The first treatment for me was a double dose of Firmagon, more information Click Here. This injection was very painful for me. The shots were given under the skin on my abdomen. Where I got the shots hurt for weeks. Hormone suppression shots are to stop the cancer from growing anymore and shrink the prostate and cancer. Normally for radiation treatments they wait two months before the radiation treatments start, at least this is what happened for me. My doctor told me that I would be on hormone therapy for 2 years. Firmagon only lasts 30 days so I was supposed to get another injection in a month. Before that I asked if anything else could be given other than Firmagon because of how much it hurt. They decided to give me a six month injection of Lupron.
Lupron is given by needle in your butt and doesn’t hurt at all. Side effects of the injections are unavoidable. I suffered from serious hot flashes and no libido!
After two months I got another PSA test and this time the result
was .8 which is down from 5.5 a big drop.
I needed 44 treatments of radiation, 5 days a week, and that took up most of the summer. There is a process associated with treatments that you must do each day prior to radiation. You can’t eat anything that produces gas; green veggies, tomato sauces and more. Then you can’t have any stool in your bowels before treatment. You must take something that helps you empty out everything. For me that was Smooth Move Tea that I bought at Walmart. It works very well. I couldn’t leave the house the morning after the tea! Then an hour and half before treatments I had to drink 32 oz. of water. You can’t urinate until after treatment and that can hurt. This much water in your bladder is not easy to deal with but it’s necessary for success.
I finished my treatments mid-September and I was happy to get to the end.
There were no problems to deal after treatments. But going through the procedures each day took a toll on me.
Celebration of the end of treatments
I waited a week and finally started to do things away from the house. Our first thing to do was visit my cousin Donna in Mountain Home AR. She just moved there form Soldotna AK and it was a great peaceful place to go and relax for a while.
What is next
I still have a year and half of Lupron shots for hormone suppression to go and checkups every 6 months. I read that the 2 years on Lupron helps your immune system to fight any cancer that might be still there, I hope it does.
The doctors have said there shouldn’t be any problems but if there is they have other things they can do to treat the cancer. I hope it doesn’t come back but sometimes it does. There was one older man going for treatments that did have a recurrence of the cancer after 20 years! He had a prostatectomy but there was new cancer after many years.
One year later
So far everything is good. I have no problems to report other than I’m more tired and still have no libido. Everything works I just don’t have any drive.
I have one more year of Lupron treatments to go. The doctors say after the last injection I should start producing testosterone again. I looking forward to being me again.
Thinking about life
I have changed the way I think about life. Everything can end in a minute so be prepared. I have also stopped worrying about everything, what will be will be. I no longer argue with people and that makes my life easier. Personally, I have started to minimize everything because at this point less really is best. Working on this it’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate over the years.
Rick Mercier updated 2/2020