Yesterday, I had one of my twice-yearly meetings with one of my oncologists. (There’s a whole team of them, and who I see each time depends on their individual schedules.) At such meetings, I hear the results of my latest PSA test, which tells me (and my team) how effective my most recent prostate cancer treatments were.
The good news is that my current PSA count is ‘way down, in fact almost at zero. Actually, that’s better than good news. It means that the latest treatments, which I had in September of last year, probably did the needful to arrest the cancer which recurred after my first set of treatments in 2006. The object of the exercise is to hold the PSA count as close to zero as possible for five years. If and when that happens, I can officially call myself a “cancer survivor.”
It’s been a long haul. I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer two days before Christmas in 2005. I had eight weeks of radiation therapy in the Spring of 2006, and then started the regular series of twice-yearly tests and meetings with my doctors. All went swimmingly until last summer, when my PSA count started going up, first slowly, and then quite dramatically. I then had another set of radiation therapy treatments, which were much more invasive, and much more brutal, than the first set.
As I said, they seem to have done the trick. Cancer being what it is, though, we don’t know that for sure, and won’t for some time. The reality is that “living with cancer” is much more than just a phrase for me. It’s more like a silent, ever-present, and somewhat sinister companion.
As with everything else in my life, my wife is my major support in dealing with this. I wouldn’t be here at all if not for her. Running helps, too, both physically and psychologically. I’d be a bit of a mess without it. But, in the end, it’s up to me to live with it and be a decent person about it. I work hard at that. I don’t always succeed, but I work at it.