The C word

No not that C word, you gutter brain. I’m talking about Cancer. The one disease that we’ve all heard about and hope never happens to us. Let me tell you a little story…

My husband is 58 (yes I’m 37… it’ll be okay). Due to prior family history, my husband has been tested twice per year for elevated PSA  (prostate specific antigen)since he was 48 or so. Well over the last 2 years we’ve seen slight increases, but nothing too concerning. In February that changed. His PSA came back elevated at 4.7. We retested- 4.2. What does that mean, you ask. It means it’s time for a biopsy. It means there is a greatly increased chance of prostate cancer. It means you’re scared sh!tless.

ProstateCancerInfographic

Off he goes to have a biopsy at the urologist. This is a procedure where they stick a machine up your bum and take samples of the prostate. It’s loud, painful, and torturous if the doctor doesn’t believe in any form of pain relief or sedation. Thus was the case for hubs. Alas, he did the deed, and we waited for results. And waited. And waited. 3 weeks is forever when you’re waiting to find out if something is eating away at your body. Finally, the day came for the results.

You walk into a room not unlike the GYN room we women are faced with. On the patient exam table is a box of tissues. You’re left there for what seems like ages, staring at this box of tissues, before the doctor finally comes in. He delivers the news- You have cancer. Not a little, but 9 out of 12 samples. Your only option is complete removal and let’s set up a bone scan to make sure there’s no metastasis. No one smiles as you leave. No one tells you it’s going to be okay. No one cares.

Because we have an almost 2 year old (at that time) who’d fallen asleep, my husband opted to take the appointment alone and left me in the car. He was shell shocked. I called my mom from the car while I’m waiting (not my mother- different story, different time) and she says to get a second opinion. Not about whether it’s cancer, but about how to treat it. She’s been through cancer before.

After some discussion, we decided we did indeed want another opinion and we needed to figure this out. We are blessed to now have Cancer Treatment Centers of America on the other side of Atlanta. We are even more blessed that they’re completely covered by our insurance. We gave them a call and set an appointment. He went through with the bone scan and got the reports- no metastasis! Yay!

We got an appointment with CTCA for the next week. Between that initial contact and the appointment, we talked to several people. And they all seemed to genuinely care about how we’re doing. We went for 3 days to CTCA, staying in a hotel room and taking our little man along with us. We’re a team and that’s how we roll. CTCA had options. Not just removal, but several types of radiation, chemo, and surgical options. Praise God for guiding us to another opinion.

After some deliberation and meeting with urology, oncology, and radiation doctors, we decided on a minimally invasive treatment plan. It’s a radiation therapy called HDR Brachy Therapy. Basically, they give you enough radiation in each treatment as they would for a 3 week period, but it’s all targeted to the specific tumor/capsule area. This only works if the cancer is contained. After MRI and volume studies they determined that it was incapsulated and that this would be a good option for treatment. It takes time to set this up, so in the meantime to stop further growth and shrink the tumors, they gave him a hormonal chemo shot then, and another 4 weeks later.

This week we started the HDR Brachy therapy. It started a 7:30am and we were released to head back to the hotel at 3:30am. Ethan was a little champ. Not really complaining, just rolling along and doing what we needed. Hubs is handling it well overall. He’s tired and achy and run down a bit, but so far it’s not nearly as bad as we feared. We go for round 2 on Nov 3. If all goes well, that should finish the cancer nuking process and we should be able to move on with our lives. He’ll always have to be tested, and we will always have to worry it will come back, but worrying accomplishes nothing, so we’ll try to follow the path God leads us on and move forward from there.

A few facts about prostate cancer-

  • Most usually it’s diagnosed in men over 50, more often in men over 70
  • 1 in 6 men will statistically have prostate cancer
  • If your father had it, the likelihood increases to 1 in 3
  • PSA testing and digital rectal exams are the most common methods of diagnosis
  • Diagnosis is key, as it’s highly treatable in early stages
  • Prostate cancer metastasizes to the lymph nodes and from there to the bones

Get checked! Nag your husbands to get checked!

  

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