Immunotherapy could stop prostate cancer spreading, trial shows
— Read on top10events.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/immunotherapy-could-stop-prostate-cancer-spreading-trial-shows/
I wasn’t sure how things would play out after I got my 1-2 year prognosis. At the very beginning I was in disbelief, a little shell shocked, but this wasn’t a total surprise. My PSA was starting to rise suggesting the Xtandi was beginning to fail and from research I’d done 1-2 years seemed about right.
Once that initial disbelief passed, I was ready to go. I decided this was going to be one helluva last 1-2 years. I started thinking about what would be first.
Then a new morning came. I woke up sobbing and in a full blown panic attack. Fortunately, I had some Xanax on hand and got control of the situation. A few hours later, as the Xanax wore off, the panic returned and I had to take more Xanax. This repeated again at bedtime.
And it continues to repeat to this day. Every morning I wake up crying, take Xanax, feel like a zombie, wait until it starts to wear off and the panic returns and take some more. Repeat one more time.
I have lost all interest in doing anything. I don’t want to get dressed or go out. I have to force myself to brush my teeth and shave. All I want is for God to come and take me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal, I just feel God should be willing to end this torture.
My wife and I set up several dinner engagements over the past couple weeks. I didn’t make any of them.
I know this can’t go on indefinitely, so I’m pursuing three paths. First, meeting with a psychologist. Second, meeting with a psychiatrist. Third, trying to get a ketamine infusion. Ketamine has proven to be very effective at lifting most people out of depression. It works very quickly. There’s a clinic that administers it about 5 hours away from where we are. How it plays with panic attacks is an unknown at this point. I have to do something. This is worse than no life at all.
At my last meeting with the oncologist there were a couple topics that came up that I thought would be of interest to folks with prostate cancer. We spend much of our time obsessing over PSA, but it has to be tempered.
On chemotherapy and PSA. Chemotherapy will reduce PSA, but that reduction doesn’t carry over to much improvement in survivability. The median extension in life for chemotherapy is around 2.5 months.
On Provenge and Xofigo treatments. Both produce a median extension of life of about 3 months and have minimal side effects. However, both can produce an increase in PSA.
While PSA is very important, it’s not the last word. It’s possible to get too caught up in treating the number.
I had my four month oncologist visit yesterday. The PSA result wasn’t good. It’s up to 40 from about 18. What this means is the Xtandi is now failing. It was my last major defense against the cancer. According to the oncologist, I now have one to two years to live. Time to start prioritizing…
We had to put down our little French Bulldog, Nancy, today. It was a gut wrenching experience. Fortunately, my wife found a vet who would come to the house, so it was a little less traumatic. Here are a couple shots of her taken last night.
We’re not really sure what happened. Last week she was fine and then suddenly went into a terrible tailspin. She was only 8 and should have outlived me. I can’t understand why these things happen. I guess I’m not supposed to.
A few days ago I went in for my latest PSA readout. Starting about two weeks prior I was a mess. The scanxiety was terrible. Panic attacks every other day. It got worse the closer I got to the appointment. The day before the appointment I went in for the blood draw to measure my PSA. Oddly enough, that calmed me down considerably. I guess I felt as if it was done. No chance to alter my PSA. The mind is a funny thing.
The next morning I was totally calm and focused. All the anxiety was gone. My wife and I went to the appointment and I found out my PSA was about 18, up from 13. The oncologist said he wasn’t sure what to make of the increase, but in his opinion the Xtandi was still working. That meant I had another four months on the drug. Four months more, at least, before I had to admit that hormone therapy was failing.
We celebrated with friends that night. Many drinks were consumed, lots of great food, and a good time was had by all.
I woke up the next morning crying. Not tears of joy or relief, but tears of sadness. At my appointment we also talked about what my options would be after the Xtandi failed. Slim pickings was the answer. About six months of life extension on average from other treatments, if I didn’t go the chemo route. I know from other readings that the chemo route only provides three more months life extension on average and you have all the side effects of chemo. I don’t expect to sign up for chemo. There is an autoimmune drug Keytruda that’s a possibility, but there’s less than a 5% chance it will work on me. All of this hit home as I was waking up. I was so sad. All of my experience, all I’ve learned, so many years – it was all going away and relatively soon. I wasn’t depressed. Depressed is about hopelessness and feeling things will never get better. This was sadness. It was so sad that all this was going to be lost. That I would no longer be around to share and grow.
Over the years I have come to view sadness as a friend. I think it heralds acceptance of change, in this case death. I embraced the sadness and let it flow through me. Usually my sadness doesn’t last very long, but this time it lasted nearly all day. I felt significantly closer to death and was sad for all the ramifications that entailed. But there was also a sense of a new time coming, for people around me, mostly my wife, being freed of having to take care of me, and for me in whatever afterlife there is.
I woke up the next day with a tinge of sadness, but overall quite content.