My colleague sent out the first snow PSA of the season last week and another yesterday which heralded in the first snow of the season. Since it’s PSA season again, I thought I’d post an update of my cancer journey. Reading through the last one, I noticed I sounded a little down due to some of the side effects, so hopefully this will be a more positive post.
When we last left our story, I was still dealing with side effects from the radiation treatment – particularly the troubling bowel issues. I’m happy to say that has cleared up and my fears of permanent damage are allayed for now. So that’s a positive! No urinary issues, no bowel issues, overall a success in my book! Also, my PSA has dropped to .1 which is a great sign that the radiation worked.
The most troubling side effects are still from the Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), or as we’ve come to call it, “The Evil Lord Lupron”. I opted for a 3 month shot in September instead of continuing the monthly shots. If all goes as planned, that should be out of my system by mid-December and I can look forward to my testosterone coming back in the new year. Unfortunately, the side effects don’t wear off right away, so it could be a few more months until I’m right as rain again.
Last week I was having a lot of hot flashes but they have subsided for the past couple of days. Sometimes I find them a bit annoying, particularly when they come in waves like last week, but most of the time I just sit back and relish in the warmth. Especially now that the weather has turned colder!
My sex drive is non-existent, which is the most troubling side effect. Lately, that has been troubling me psychologically more than it had before. You never know how much you identify with your manhood until it is taken away! I keep telling myself (and Diana) that it will come back once the Lupron is out of my system, but there are no guarantees. We keep trying to be intimate (going on the “use it or lose it” attitude), and occasionally have some success. My doctor said by next year, all this will be in the past and I’ll be back to “normal”, so I have to keep telling myself that will be the case.
I still haven’t gotten into an exercise routine, but have started doing a bit of yoga every morning before meditation. One problem with exercising is that I had hernia surgery (as if cancer wasn’t enough) at the end of September and am just now feeling like I can do some more rigorous physical activity. I haven’t been to yoga class since September, but am going to try making it tonight. There’s a Boulder County Beekeepers Association meeting right after so I’ll have to rush to get there, but I really want to get back into my yoga routine. And ski season starts soon, so that will be some good exercise.
Last week, I was put in touch with a guy in his 40’s who had been just diagnosed with prostate cancer. I thought I was young when I got my diagnosis, but that really sucks! Fortunately for this guy, he has a low grade case so he can take his time researching his options. I pointed him to my posts and told him my experiences with Cyberknife. His doctor has recommended surgery and he’s concerned about the long term effects of radiation since he’s so young. I still think I made the right choice for me. As I told him, there is no one who is going to tell you, “This is the best option for you and you will have no side effects” – everyone has to make their own choices based on what they value and which side effects they can live with.
Finally, I’ve started growing out my facial hair for No-Shave November/Movember in support of men’s cancer. (Or maybe, I’m just being lazy). I said I’d never grow out my beard again since it’s getting gray, but sometimes life throws you a curve and you have to go with the flow. When I first met Diana, I had a beard and had it for 16 years after that. As I come out from under the grips of the Evil Lord, I look forward to rekindling our passion like we had at the beginning, and I might as well look the part!
Please consider donating to some group that supports men’s cancer in this season of giving. I’m supporting UsToo, but there are many other worthy groups out there. And I always am thankful for your prayers, mantras and support.