(Nov 21. 2011)
While I've written some of this already here is a run down on my prostate cancer situation. At the end of last year (2010) I had a routine blood test for my annual physical. My doctor spotted that I had an elevated PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) count. This can be an indication of prostate cancer. This lead to my getting a prostate biopsy in early April (the delay was caused by health insurance issues). The biopsy showed that I did indeed have prostate cancer (much to my surprise though not shock). I received some counseling by the attending urologists on treatment options. During the next two months I received a second opinion and studied prostate cancer and its various treatments. The book "Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer" by Dr. Patrick Walsh proved to be very helpful in the evaluation process. I also spoke with many men who have had prostate cancer and the treatment methods they chose. This also proved very helpful.
By the end of June I decided to go with IMRT (Intense Modulated Radiation Therapy). IMRT is a long range treatment that is effective in a very high percent of the cases. In order to get into this type of treatment I had a CT scan and a bone scan (during July). These scans were done to determine if the cancer had spread beyond the prostate itself (into the lymphatic system and bones). The results on both scans were negative. At the end of August I was given a Lupron shot. This shot is done to suppress the making of male hormones which the prostate cancer cells feed on. There is a two month gap between the Lupron shot and when the radiation can actually happen. During this time I had some gold inserts placed beside the prostate (an outpatient procedure) and another CT scan (I received three small tattoos on my lower abdomen). The gold inserts and the CT scan are for correct radiation beam targeting and planning. After the CT scan (Nov 1) the radiation technicians spent several weeks planning my treatments.
Also in October I began a hospital sponsored small group course called "The Seven Levels of Healing." This group meets once a week through November and takes different aspects of the cancer experience and is facilitated by a registered nurse and a hospital social worker. Some of the sessions have proved very helpful and I appreciate getting to know other cancer patients and family members.
At this point I am feeling fine. I continue doing my part time job and my daily activities pretty much normally. I do have some "hot flashes" from the Lupron injection.
So today (November 21) I'm starting my radiation treatments which will continue for two months (five days a week for two months.