It will be twenty years next month (April 2020) since I received my cancer diagnosis and after three operations, some maiming and an experimental procedure, b’god, I’m still here.
Three years ago, my PSA (prostate specific antigen) started going back up so It was time for action. I made an appointment with an oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. After our first meeting and a couple of scans, he told sent me to California for a still-experimental test called a Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) scan. This ) scan [shown below] can find metasticies x-rays, CAT scans and MRI scans will often miss. If you want to know more about this PSMA thing, Google it.
Well, dear reader, the scan discloses seven small metastasis crawling up the left iliac chain of the lymph nodes. One within kissing distance of the spine. Not a good sign. The doc said x-rays are out as is the proton beam. He said he has to treat this cancer systemically. In May of 2017, he put me on a medicine named abiraterone acetate along with prednisone. By October 2017, my PSA had become undetectable and the discomfort from the re-grown tumor was gone – the metasticies never hurt, they were too small.
Of course such a thing needs constant monitoring as a beaten-down cancer has a way of getting up off the mat and resuming its mission of killing you so I’ve been going in for a blood draw every month since then. Doc promised me he’d look at the test results as soon as they came in and would call if things weren’t kosker. After almost three years, I got the dreaded call last Monday.
Turns out the PSA was still undetectable; he just wanted to do a timely consult and to tell me this was highly, highly unusual. Normally, the abiraterone stops working within a year, eighteen months tops, and here I was thirty-three months later and the PSA is still zip. “Remarkable”, was the word he used. He also told me that monthly blood tests were no longer necessary and need only be done quarterly. He also told me I don’t have to worry about dying of prostate cancer.
Well Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
I promptly called Jo, gave her the news then went home and poured a double bucket of Scotch, bowled-up and got righteous.