Friday, November 16, 2012

Blue Ribbon Blogging

FRIDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- News that a key government advisory panel will give a thumbs-down next week to a controversial blood test for prostate cancer is garnering both praise and condemnation from experts.

A draft report due out early next week from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) will recommend that healthy men forego regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing aimed at spotting prostate cancer, the The New York Times and other media outlets reported Friday.

The USPSTF is the same independent group of medical experts that caused a firestorm in late 2009 when they ruled against the use of annual mammographies for average-risk women in their 40s.

Here Comes ObamaCare and Death Panels, amigos, and higher premiums and Socialized medicine.

The PSA screening is a simple blood test, done in a lab with a little dab of your blood, guys.
The "normal range" for prostate specific antigen is any reading less than 4ng/mL (nanograms per mililitre)  Some researchers encourage using less than 2.5 or 3 ng/mL as a cutoff for normal values, particularly in younger patients. Younger patients tend to have smaller prostates and lower PSA values, so any elevation of the PSA in younger men above 2.5 ng/mL is a cause for concern.

28,170 men will die from prostate cancer this year in the United States.  

But Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a prostate cancer expert, said the task force's recommendation is misguided.  ((this is a good article))

D'Amico noted that in the European study, screening reduced cancer deaths among these younger men by 44 percent. The U.S. study also showed a 44 percent reduction in cancer death among younger men, he added.

Hello, I am one part of that 44%.  And I will always denounce ObamaCare, I don't care what their latest "panel of Experts" has to say.

Four years ago, before marrying the lovely Leticia H., I had a complete physical, including a PSA screening.  At age 39, my PSA level was '13.4'.  I was instructed to visit a urologist in Tulsa for a biopsy of my prostate, which I did.  Then, that doctor took seven samples of tissue and sent them for analysis.  Later on, I was diagnosed with BPH, benign prostate hyperplasia, a larger than average prostate.  And was told to go on my merry way, and get married.

Fast forward to this past April, 2012.  I am on time for my annual health checkup at the Choctaw Hospital in Talihina, where I find that my overall health is excellent, my cholesterol is below 140, my heart will beat for 1000 more years, but my PSA level is "unusually high".

This time my PSA was 22.  Normal again, is less than 4.
Once again, I am referred to a urologist, this time it is Dr. Gerald Wahman of Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  Dr. Wahman is a man.  I simply love that joke- Wahman = man.  He does not, however.
I had the same biopsy performed as four years earlier.  This time,   this time was very different.

I have prostate cancer.  
You quickly learn many new words and definitions when you are told you have the Big C.
Terms like "PSA levels" and an especially ugly one, your "Gleason Score".  
Now, a Gleason score range is from 4 through 9.  Why? I don't know.  But the higher the number, the more serious the cancer.  My Gleason Score is 7.  It is also important to know how that "7" is made up:  it is calculated by two evaluations of your prostate biopsy, with each doctor giving a score.  Mine was 3+4, in 4 samples; and 4+3 in 3 samples.  I have an agressive cancer inside me.  In fact, I have a small tumor which has metastasized outside the prostate capsule.

(SEE what interesting language~!)

Since Thursday, September 20, 2012, I have been living in Fort Smith, Arkansas receiving daily radiation treatments at FSRO, Fort Smith Radation Oncology, by the skilled training of Dr. Kris Gast, technicians Shea, Brent, and Will, and Caroline the RN, and 'Fitz' the billing clerk. She is really, really nice as she coordinates my insurance, my copay and what the Choctaw Nation pays. But the whole group there is so spectacular, even the songbirds living in the waiting room aviary.
Living in Fort Smith, Arkansas is sure a strange experience.  I am living in an unused parsonage of the Cavanaugh United Methodist Church on So. Hwy. 271.  It is sponsored by the very nice folks at the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House.  Why am I here?  Because it would be so freaking expensive to drive 150 miles round trip on our dime to have treatments.
Scheduled for a total of 40 treatments at FSRO, that puts me back home in Yanush on Wednesday, November 28th.  Back home.  A Cancer Survivor.  
In theory~

I have an appointment to see both Doctors Wahman and Gast again in January, when my condition will be evaluated after the treatment has had time to take effect; another MRI, another bone scan to see if the cancer has spread.  If not, I go back to work full time.  If it has, either surgery or hormone treatments.

So that is it-- the reason why this crummy blog takes a backseat to spending quality time with Leticia and Dillon instead.  And why, regardless of prognosis, I am going back to being friend, husband and dad, as best I can.

My advice to men anywhere around the age of 40 is to have at least a bi-annual PSA test performed, annually if you are over 50 years.  Don't ignore the symptoms as I did, don't think it only happens to someone else, as I did.  Have the test and know what is going on inside, down there.  

If you like, the phone number here is 479-434-6472. Call, say Heyyah~! at a decent hour (hint)
I am going home for Thanksgiving after my Wednesday treatment for four days, hoping to get to the deer woods with Marty, his son Colt, and Dill on Friday and Saturday.  Back here, at the "house of hope" on Sunday night for my final two treatments on Monday and Tuesday. 
Because of many people, including my friends here on the Internet, I have a very great deal to be thankful for next Thursday.

Please do me a favor, and visit each of these links to learn much more about prostate cancer, and especially the links for FSRO and the DWR support house.they are wonderful folks.  


Mike said...

Gosh, I'm stunned by this. Prayers your way.

Back in the early 90's, my dad finally went to the dr. and got the " 'ol finger wave" as he called it and then his PSA read 1400. Yes, 1400, no typo. The cancer had already spread to his spine and hips and was starting in on his bladder. The dr. put him on diff. meds, forget what they were, but later he put him on that Lupron and his PSA plummeted to near-normal levels.

The medication had some side-effects, though; in a long line of male pattern baldies, his hair started growing again, long and luxurious and he spent nearly as much time at the barber shop as he did the doctor's office. His hair was longer & thicker than mine, by far!

Of course, the cancer was too far advanced at diagnosis to deny the inevitable, but he had over a dozen years after that of good, quality life.

It was that miracle that, after most of my life as a heathen, made me realize there really is a God and that He loves us. "...with God all things are possible."

I don't know what the future holds for you, my friend, but like my dad, you have a good outlook on life, a family who loves you and friends who care.

Leticia said...

I am so truly sorry, Mal!! Words cannot express my sorrow for you and your family. What a HUGE coincidence that your wife shares my name and we are all from Arkansas.

You are truly a brave man in many aspects, and I pray that you will be healed, in Jesus' name.

Also, I must commend you for sharing this terrible time and your phone number. I hope people will honor you and not call and disrupt your lives.

I also am worried about my healthcare. My husband said we will probably lose it. And I have a rare disease and am being treated for it. My insurance pays a lot for my medication, but what will happen when Obmacare kicks in??? What will hapen to me?

All we can do is trust in the Almighty.

The Local Malcontent said...

Thank you both, Leticia, Mike- your warm and kind thoughts, prayers are deeply appreciated.
I feel OK, a great deal of fatigue due to the radiation, I am losing some hair, ahem, losing some weight.
I will survive with all the support, love, prayers around me.

But, once again, the end of the bloggie is in sight: 12-13 more days, for we do not have Internet access at home anymore, by choice.
So our time together is precious, but that is not news either, now is it?

Spitfire said...

Sweet friend,
I'm so sorry to hear this!!! I finally posted on my blog and understand where you're coming from. My dad also has Prostate, he's older than you. But the disease itself is quite scary. He is doing well on hormone therapy. Too advanced for chemo. I will add you to our prayers and wether you see this or not, keep looking for those Love Letters from Papa...He's sending them to you Sweetheart! Hugs from Texas. Spitfire