January 26, 2021 7pm
Tomorrow I will experience the first procedure, the placing of the “markers” in my body that will guide the radiation gun. I write those words and they sound so “alien”. Radiation of this type is not natural, and I like natural stuff.
I used to say that cancer was not what was gonna take me out. I said that because I have dodged that bullet twice before, in 2012 with my colon resection surgery that turned out negative and in 2013 with a lung biopsy that was not totally negative but the doctor said at the follow up meeting that I did not have cancer, though they had found a few cells in the middle of the removed nodule.
Now, well we shall see. The doctor who first viewed the MRI said 90%. The radiation oncologist in Denver wished to be very clear that I was firmly in the “high risk” category. The doctor who is about to treat me gave no number and no opinion at our interview. I have since found the number 76% associated with men in my condition.
It will be an interesting 70th trip around the sun.
February 19, 2021 9am
Radiation begins today at 11am. Randy will drive me to the clinic for this first one. it is about 15 minutes away from Tina’s house, his partner of several years now. It is in Franklin, TN where I am staying for the duration. This will be #1 of 39 planned sessions, a few minutes of “proton beam” irradiation for each. The setup takes maybe 30 minutes, while they position my body on the table. The extremely small pencil beam radiation gun needs to be focused precisely for each session in an effort to avoid damage to surrounding non-cancerous tissue. An ultrasound machine is used in addition to CT scans which locate the previously inserted tiny real gold “markers”. The protocol includes having a full bladder so I drink 1 qt. of water 30 minutes prior. Also, they like it if you have regular bowel movements, which I do, as a ballon is placed in your rectum each time. It is an added defensive barrier in an effort to avoid damage to the affected area which is located directly adjacent to the area being treated.
February 23, 2021
I drove myself to the second appointment on Saturday. So far there is no indication of any ill effects to the proton beam radiation. They say in two weeks there might be. I also got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday. Glad of that.
So 4 down. 35 to go. So far so good. I feel normal, even a bit better, but that is likely due to some adjustments to my food intake. Weaning myself from eggs again, I found the miracle food “Just Eggs”. Perfect scrambled eggs, made from mung beans, comes as a liquid in a bottle. Freaking crazy. Still adding some parmesan to them, but just a taste…haha.
I stopped taking the only prescription medication I was on due to some headaches. Dr. Greger of NutritionFacts.org reposted a video showing a clinical study that said ground flaxseed was as effective as the drug I was taking. I had already been adding 14g of it to my morning oatmeal, so upping my intake to the 42g a day administered during the study is easy for me to do. It seems to be working.
Also, I am back to doing my exercises every other day. I had been skipping days, as I tend towards being more fatigued than normal due to the hormone therapy. But I need to keep it up and now that the sun is out get some bicycling in. I always feel better when I work out, and doing it every other day maintains, whereas going 3 or 4 days without it I wake up not feeling as good.
BTW, my last blood draw 3 weeks ago showed my PSA @ 1.83 and my testoterone @ <2.5. Weight maintaining now at ~195, after climbing up from the 170 I was at when I came up from Costa Rica on October 1.
March 7, 2021
It is Sunday morning as I write this. The past seven days have been a bit of a roller coaster and now I am back to the starting point and all is well.
It began last Sunday evening into Monday. The frequency of my trips to the restroom increased dramatically. 4 times per night, at least 8 times during the day. Also some other symptoms which made me fearful that the radiation was having the serious adverse effects that had been described in the waiver I had needed to sign before treatment began. So I was getting depressed, but not overly so. I have taken back better control of my exercise regimen and dietary adjustments and as a result I feel good in most other ways.
I meet with Dr. Gray on Fridays after treatment as a check in. He is not present during treatment sessions, but reviews them in his office and makes adjustments as he sees fit. Friday March 5th was my 3rd such meeting. They are prefaced with my vitals being taken and an interview with the nursing staff. He then comes in to discuss my concerns, and this time I for sure had some.
Turns out I have nothing to be concerned about, he told me to resume taking the one prescription drug that I thought had been giving me headaches and also to begin taking 200mg of ibuprofen 4 times a day.
I did so upon returning home in the afternoon and by Saturday bedtime the new symptoms were gone…it is kinda of freaky how quickly it changed. I am back to normal bathroom visit frequency, and I feel as good as I have since before this all began one year ago.
He also further allayed my fears by telling me that any symptoms I do experience going forward will disappear once treatment ceases in April. Then we discussed the other important question I had: how will he know if I am free of cancer after treatment?
Turns out we won’t know for sure. That is the nature of cancer. It can lurk and come back. So what we do is monitor my PSA level, which is the test, that while not always accurate enough at levels <5 to diagnose severity prior to treatment, is still the best indicator we have of the presence of this particular cancer. A blood draw every 3 months for several years. If it remains low, say <2, we know the cancer, if not gone, is gone enough. (When the treatment is removal of the prostrate the level ideally goes to 0).
What I can do is keep up with my best practices of diet (i.e. with Dr. Greger and Nutritionfacts.org as my continuing source of knowledge) and my every other day exercises. Returning to live near the ocean in Costa Rica or Mexico for part of the year also seems likely to help.