It’s been nearly six weeks since my last post. My apologies to those who wondered what happened to me. There were many times I wanted to post, but the content was so bleak and discouraging. I think I’m more driven to write when I feel my worst. Maybe it’s cathartic. I guess it is at some level. But I don’t want the folks who read this blog to get an inaccurate image. Getting the right balance between the positive and negative aspects of my posts is one of the hardest things for me to do. So I punted and didn’t post, rather than trying to figure out how to present the kind of balance that I think is accurate.
Let me bring you up to date, at least for the last month. I got my last Lupron shot about 4 weeks ago. I had no reason to believe there would be anything special about this shot, but there was. Typically, the first week after the shot the effects are very mild. That wasn’t the case this time. Hot flashes and deep depressions started almost immediately. I talked with the doc about it and he suspects the injection was very close to a vein, leading to Lupron being absorbed much faster into my system. We had a cruise coming up in a week so I decided to get a booster TMS treatment hoping it would reduce the depressions.
We left on the cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida a few days later. By that time the TMS booster was starting to take effect and I was feeling pretty good. The ship was headed to the Mediterranean, and it took us about a week to cross the Atlantic. During this time my depression was well under control and I had a good time. The depressions came back after we finished crossing the Atlantic. Over the next week the ship visited six ports and I was lucky to feel well enough to see four of them. Gibraltar was one of the best ports and isn’t a common stop. They have very cute free ranging apes on the Rock of Gibraltar and the only runway in the world that has a road running through the middle of it. (They have gates to stop traffic when a plane is landing or taking off.) On balance it was a good time, not too terribly marred by depression.
This past week has been a daily fight with depression, but at least I won sometimes. I got another booster TMS session in anticipation of weeks 5 and 6 after the shot. They’re usually the worst and it’s now the start of week 5. The depressions can be crippling. Those times rarely last more than a few hours, but they are the worst times of my life – I believe that things will never get better, only worse, even though intellectually I know it’s not true.
Swirling around all this is the rest of my life. It’s filled with wonderful things: a loving and very supportive wife, great friends, a great medical team, good medical insurance, a comfortable retirement with lots of travel, and the list goes on. During the bad times, it’s often hard for me to connect with how lucky I am. Learning to do this is something I work on a lot. I’m getting better, but it’s oh so slow. Oddly enough, my heart attack actually helped. I’m not as preoccupied with my cancer, which is great. Nothing comes for free, though. Every time I get any kind of chest pain I freak out. On balance, I’m ahead of the game.
“There are good days and there are bad days.” It’s a phrase folks with cancer often say. This saying really isn’t very accurate for me. A more accurate description is “there are good hours and there are bad hours”. Lupron jacks around with my hormones, so my feelings can shift from the deepest depression to feeling great in relatively short order. I suspect that women who have cancers involving hormones suffer the same fate. As long as I’m on Lupron, I have to accept I don’t have any substantive control of my emotions.
I often wonder if I should stay on Lupron. There’s no question I’d feel better, if I went off it There’s also no question I’d die sooner. How much sooner no one can tell me – days, weeks, months, or years. For now I’m deciding to stay on it. If the length or severity of the depressions worsen, or when my cancer metastasizes to a vital organ, I may change my mind. Once a vital organ is involved the clock will start ticking much faster, and I may want my remaining time to be as free of Lupron’s interference as possible.