In the second half of 2009 I discovered I had prostate cancer and outlined the situation within this blog. I had surgery, endured some of the bad bits, healed and moved on. I even raised a bit of cash for the cause. And that, I thought, was that.
Until last month.
I’ve had regular PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests to ensure the nasty stuff isn’t still lurking inside my body and, until the end of last year, all was good. But then the tests began showing a slow increase in the amount of PSA in my blood which meant that some cancer cells remain even after the host prostate was yanked out and dropped in the trash.
To say I was bummed out is an understatement as I figured the battle had been fought and won years ago. So now it’s time for radiation therapy. Yay.
The radiation therapy process consists of five steps:
- Consultation: A radiation oncologist evaluates my condition and prescribes treatment.
- Simulation: A CT scan is used to map the treatment area to ensure accuracy. Skin is marked with small dots of permanent ink (tattoos) to ensure that the precise area is treated each time.
- Treatment Planning: The radiation oncologist creates plan of treatment taking into account the diagnosis, the type of radiation machine that will be used, the amount of radiation needed and the number of treatments to be given.
- Radiation Treatment: The fun begins. My treatment consists of 32 treatments, every day (except weekends and holidays) for 6 1/2 weeks.
- Follow-Up: Post-treatment visits with the radiation oncologist. Good times and stimulating conversation.
Radiation therapy works by bombarding my late prostate’s neighbourhood with ionizing radiation which fatally damages the DNA of cancerous cells. (Die you little bastards, DIE!!) I began therapy June 21 and will continue 5 days a week for 32 treatments (6 1/2 weeks), consulting with a radiation oncologist every week to evaluate my progress and have my PSA levels checked. Treatment side effects include skin irritation (probably minor as the radiation is targeted deep within my body rather than my dainty and delicate surface area) and possible incontinence and bowel irregularity. Fatigue is the major side effect of this treatment and I’ve been advised to ‘relax’. I’m all over that one.
So what am I doing to help this process succeed?
1) I’ve increased the level of my cardio and weight workouts, which will help with my physical and mental state during the treatment. And make me all buff for summer.
2) I’m consuming absolutely no alcohol however my addiction to sesame snaps will continue unabated.
3) I’m staying positive. I’ve found it’s much better than staying negative.
For those looking forward to an early inheritance, my prognosis is very good and I’m optimistic that this is the final round of my 4 year battle against this annoying little bastard. Though it may well be pugnacious, I have my general good health, age, optimisim and the use of a large machine to blast cancer cells to hell and back. Love that machine.
Finally, for those that enjoy watching a man lay on a table, have a look at the video of my June 27, 2013 TrueBeam Linear Accelerator treatment, administered by the excellent radiation therapists at The BC Cancer Agency in beautiful Surrey. (It’s not really beautiful, I’m just being kind.)