A lot has happened in the last three months. I was anxiously awaiting the results of my last PSA test about 6 weeks ago. Prior to that, my PSA had dropped from 50 to 9 to 5. I was hoping for a 2 or maybe even less than 1. I got a 15. Triple my last score. My first thought was that the Lupron has failed, followed closely by absolute fear. My oncologist told me that this outcome didn’t necessarily mean the hormone treatment had failed, because I wasn’t on the hormone treatment as recommended. Up to now I’ve been taking Lupron every other month, due to the depressions it caused me. The last few months, as an experiment, I’ve taken Casodex, another hormone therapy drug, along with the Lupron. That introduced three side effects. The depressions nearly went away, my hot flashes grew much more frequent and severe, and I developed occasionally significant breast tenderness. The depression remediation was a big win, and with it we decided to switch me to a normal hormone therapy regimen – where I’m on it all the time. My oncologist suggested I start taking Black Cohosh herbs in a capsule for the hot flashes. They’re over the counter and even mention on the bottle that they help alleviate hot flashes. They’ve worked out very nicely for me. Instead of 2-4 severe hot flashes a day, I get a moderate hot flash every 3-4 days. On the breast tenderness front, we have to wait and see. He acknowledged this could turn into a serious problem, but so far it’s manageable.
As I was settling in to this new regime, on June 1 I participated in an Advanced Prostate Cancer Virtual Blogger Summit sponsored by Bayer HealthCare (they were even nice enough to provide a webcam for me). In general I learned that men do a poor job recognizing and communicating the signs and symptoms of advanced prostate cancer. For me personally, I realized I’ve been minimizing the problems I’m having with fatigue and anxiety. Over 85% of men with advanced prostate cancer have fatigue issues, so at least I’m in good company.
I sleep 10-12 hours a day and often need to spend a few minutes recovering from taking a shower. On the anxiety front, I routinely find the muscles in my legs, buttocks, and back totally tense up and are hard to move. Some of that may be all the chemicals I’m taking. It’s hard to figure out what’s causing what.
On June 11 I got my next month’s injection of Lupron, as per the typical regimen. What that really meant to me is that on July 14 I would find out if the Lupron has failed.
My anxiety has been through the roof since then. Many nights I’ve had to take anti-anxiety pills to get to sleep. The muscle “lockups” have been more frequent. I’ve had a few bouts of depression, but have been able to fight them off. I have a ready supply of anti-anxiety pills, but I try to use them only when really needed. My docs tell me folks build a tolerance to them; and I don’t want to use that up unless it’s absolutely necessary. Last night I didn’t need them, and I’m going to try going to sleep without them tonight.
Despite all this bad news, my life isn’t that bad. Fifty percent or more of the time I feel pretty good. I’m hoping that once I get resolution on Lupron’s status the anxiety will go down, even if the result is it’s failed. Now if I can just get my legs to relax and go to sleep…