Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I am doing very well. Fatigue continues to be the biggest side effect, but even that is manageable. I felt well enough last night to go to the Holiday Bowl here in San Diego with my brother-in-law Kimo.
I want to thank everyone who has traveled with me on this journey (some willingly, and others dragged into an odyssey of prostate cancer). Your prayers and support have seen me through some difficult days.
And I shared with my new-found friends and fellow cancer survivors in the doctor's waiting room this morning, "Happy New Year, and may we all be cancer free in 2009!"
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Thank you, everyone, for your prayers, concern and support.
Merry Christmas, and may you have a blessed holiday.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
View the YouTube video of an IMRT session below.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Bottom line: My IMRT treatments will now start next Monday, December 8 instead of tomorrow. No big deal. It gives me a few more days to prepare.
Bless you, everyone.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 2) I go to radiology for setup work (x-rays and such, I guess). Then Wednesday, I start my treatments with the first of 35 weekday treatments of Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). IMRT permits the delivery of a high dose of radiation to the cancer while minimizing dose to other sensitive organs.
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We surely did, with so many things to be thankful for.
Hard to believe it is December, but time marches on. I am feeling very well, and ready for the next phase of my war on prostate cancer.
Bless you, everyone.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
By Dave Nelson, 53, of Longview (WA)
Prostate cancer has no symptoms, and for the most part, its victims have no clue.
When I was diagnosed on Valentines Day, 2007, I was shocked to learn that an agent of death had been growing inside me for years.
The instant the urologist said my name and “cancer” in the same sentence, I took on a new, unwanted identity defined by “victim,” “survivor” “remission” and “recurrence.”
My head was suddenly filled with numbers and scores —- PSA (9.74), Gleason (9) and ‘T’ scores. And I was faced with several treatment options that two days earlier I had never heard of.
Now, within four weeks I had to choose between the radical slice and dice, brachial mini nuke, external macro nuke, freeze it or wait. Except for wait, they all have the same unacceptable side effects: incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
And so began a journey I did not choose but nonetheless must travel. Almost immediately I was surrounded by cards, and friends, and prayer and fear. In the U.S. every year, 200,000 guys are diagnosed with prostate cancer. I felt the need to convince my kids, my friends, anyone, not to blame God, but to let God help us through.
The diagnosis brought into focus how temporal my life was. I realized that if I remained my easy-going wait-and-see self, I would never live the life I wanted. I began to feel the need, even the urge, to make changes —- and that urge continues today.
Some cancer victims lose their hair and their weight. I gained a scar and the ability to wet my pants at inopportune times. Every time I sneeze, cough, or wake up, I am reminded that my life has been invaded by an unwelcomed guest. And every day I silently, though sometimes awkwardly, go on.
I am sure that to my family and friends, my life over the last 18 months has appeared erratic and selfish. But cancer tore away my identity and I am still trying to find a new one. The truth is, my cancer tore away their identity also, as everyone who knows me tries to make sense out of the senseless.
But what I, my family and friends share, is courage. Courage to face life’s uncertainty. The same courage shared by every cancer victim, and everyone who has known and loved a cancer victim, as we all try to make sense out of the senseless.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I am allergic to CT and MRI machines, because I am CLAUSTROPHOBIC! But by the grace of God, and your prayers, my dear friends, I will get through it.
I'll just remind myself of the night I was almost eaten by a bear in Wasilla, Alaska. (I kid you not...you cannot make this stuff up!) Would you like to hear the story? Ok, if you insist. And yes, this is the same Wasilla, Alaska where Gov. Sarah Palin lives and served as mayor. (Now that the election is over, I feel free to tell the story.)
You ask, "What was a guy from Yazoo City, Mississippi doing in Wasilla, Alaska messing with bears in the first place?" Good question; I'm glad you asked.
It has long been the tradition in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church that clergy who are ordained go on a mission trip. In 1995, when I was ordained an elder, a group of about 25 of my fellow ordinands and I were assigned to go to Wasilla and Willow (about ten miles away) to help build the Willow United Methodist Church. When I say build, I mean build (Jimmy Carter style, hammer, nails and all).
We were there ten days, sleeping in tents in a screened in pavilion. I recall taking two showers during those ten days in a shower stall in which I had to jump around to try to get wet enough to wash the soap lather off my body. Thought I was back on Graball Hill back in Yazoo City: outdoor toilet and primitive plumbing.
To make a long story even longer, one night my fellow church carpenters decided to go salmon fishing, as it was salmon season, and the sun was up past midnight. Being the oldest person in the group (and the tiredest) I elected to go to sleep while they fished.
I crawled in my sleeping bag in my tent inside the screened-in pavilion. As I was just about to fall asleep, I heard the screen door to the pavilion open and slap shut. "Wow, they are back early" I thought. As I listened for voices, I heard none. What I did hear were grunts, sniffing, and finally the roar of a GREAT WASILLA ALASKAN BLACK BEAR! Let's call him LUCIFER, The Wasilla Bear, because he scared the DEVIL out of me! Now he was trapped inside the pavilion WITH ME; unable to open the inside-swinging screen door by himself...and I surely wasn't going to escort him out. I was too busy trying to make myself INVISIBLE, no make that NON-EXISTENT, as I hid inside my tent.
I had zipped my small tent shut, but could tell when the bear got next to my tent, walking all the way around sniffing. I wondered if I smelled (well, of course I smelled...only two showers in ten days) like his next meal. I recalled the verses of scripture where the apostles were fed to the wild beasts, and wondered if that was to be my sacrifice and lasting legacy. I could see the Yazoo Herald headlines: "Yazoo Native Pastor Eaten by Alaskan Bear". Probably would sell a few more Heralds: You don't see a headline like that every week.
Finally my colleagues returned from their great Alaskan salmon adventure to play a heroic role in my great Alaskan Bear adventure, and chased the bear out the back screen door. I took my first real breath in almost TWO HOURS and finally felt free to let my heart start beating again.
So this afternoon, as I try to get through the CT Scan, I will remind myself that it is not quite as bad as almost being eaten by Lucifer, the Wasilla bear.
What a life. What a ministry.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The healing is continuing to go well. I have full mobility, and easily go up the stairs at work and home. The biggest problem continues to be fatigue. I read an article yesterday that said fatigue for cancer patients is not being extra tired. It is more like not being able to walk across the room, or carry on a conversation. It hits at random times. Sometimes, I can take a nap at lunch...but sleep does not always work with fatigue. Not to worry, it is manageable.
I'm marking time until my radiation treatments start. Anita and I will stretch this weekend into five days (our "flex Friday" all the way through Veterans Day). I plan to rest up big time and get ready for the initial radiation setup on November 17. Then the 35 treatments begin two weeks later.
I read an article online that says a study of men who have radiation treatment after a prostatectomy have an incread risk of developing bladder and rectral cancer.
Oh well, what choice does a person have?
God is good, and in control!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
May God make you aware of His loving presence today.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I will begin a seven week regiment of daily radiation treatments on Monday, December 1. Dr. Sharazi's staff will administer the treatments Monday through Friday. They only take about twenty minutes, including prep time. I am fortunate to have them close by at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, and should be able to continue working through the full seven weeks. Of course, I will miss a couple days Christmas and New Years, but those treatments will just be tacked onto the end. So I will get 35 treatments in all.
One of the biggest side effects is fatigue. I spoke with a few men in the doctor's waiting room before my appointment. One said fatigue was worse at the beginning, another said it was worse for him at the end, and another staid he experience no fatigue. So it is different for each individual.
Thank you all for your continued prayers as I begin this next phase of my journey.
Monday, October 13, 2008
A friend of mine at Healing Well said he "fired all torpedos" when he learned he had prostate cancer. So that is what I am doing. As Dr. Kossman suggested at the onset, we should be as aggressive as possible. For me that will now include hormone therapy, surgery and radiation. No reason to return to the airport with unused bombs still on the plane when we are in all-out war.
I hope you are all doing well today.
Thank you, Lord, for every blessing.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Staging: pT2c pN0 MX (Stage 2 Cancer)
Interpretation: pT2c (Bilateral disease, tumor involved both lobes of prostate)
Interpretation: pN0 (No positive regional nodes)
Interpretation: MX (Distant metastasis cannot be assessed (but earlier CT and bone scan saw no metastasis)
Gleason: 3+4=7 (biopsy indicated 3+3=6)
No discrete tumor mass
Bilateral involvement (both sides of prostate involved)
No capsular penetration (carcinoma extends into but not through capsule bilaterally)
Perineural (around the nerve) tumor invasion: present
Perineural margin: Free of carcinoma
Bladder neck: Free of carcinoma
Distal (urethral) Margin: Carcinoma present
Seminal Vesicle: None present
Lymph Nodes: 18 nodes free of metastatic carcinoma
I am pleased with the results. Cancer staging went down from Stage 3 to Stage 2, and Gleason went up from 6 to 7. But they seem to have taken all of the cancer out. Excellent news that seminal vesicles and lymph nodes were not involved. The only area of concern seems to be Distal Margin. My surgeon says he thinks he got it all. Pathologist is not so sure.
I will see my oncologist Monday to get his take on the path report.
The plan now is to see what PSA shows. May follow up with radiation, if indicated.
Some white blood cells were in my sample today, so I am on a week of Rx CIPRO. Not uncommon with catheter patients post op.
Thank you all for your wonderful support.
Bless you, all.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I’m proud of getting myself cleaned up and dressed for the first day back at work. In many ways (I’m sure Anita will agree) I have reverted to being a child; but working diligently at returning to being a responsible, self-sustaining adult as quickly as possible.
It has been an amazing journey since May 15, when I had the biopsy that revealed prostate cancer, with a flood of emotions: shock, fear, sadness, doom, anger, resolve, doubt, and finally: faith. In some ways, I wish it were possible to say I ONLY had faith. But I am human; and my testimony is that faith, in the end, won out over fear and doubt.
There were two keys to making it through the surgery. First and foremost, I learned first hand what I preached for forty years: Place yourself in the Hands of a Loving God. And that is the ultimate proof of faith. Had the outcome been different, that still is the place to be; whether you are being rolled into major surgery, or going through the routine chores of the day.
The second key was: claiming the presence and power of Guardian Angels. Thanks go to Blue Shield of California, my health care provider, for sending an audio CD called “Guided Imagery”. The 15-minute audio, which I listened to a dozen or so times before surgery, gave encouragement to gain comfort from Guardian Angels who go with me into surgery, and will be with me through recovery. If you had asked on May 15 if I believed in Guardian Angels, of course I would have said yes. But to experience them on September 15 was another story. I may never tire of telling it.
By placing myself in the Hands of a Loving God, and claiming the presence and power of my Guardian Angels, I was able to go into the surgery with a calm faith that whatever the outcome, everything would be OK.
So here is a message for ANY and EVERY day: Place yourself in the Hands of a Loving God, and claim the presence and power of your Guardian Angels, whom the God of Love has placed around you to help you where you cannot help yourself.
Finally, Blue Shield’s audio suggested I look into the faces of my Guardian Angels as I went into surgery. Do not be surprised, they said, if you recognize some of them. They were correct! Thanks, Pop, Ellen and Tommy for being there when I needed you the most.
I love you, all.
From the Quote Garden
“Angels descending, bring from above,
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”
~ Fanny J. Crosby
Saturday, October 4, 2008
This morning, I'm working in my home office, watching college football (my favorite hobby) and surfing the net. No pains at all, and a continued feeling of wellness and wholeness.
Thank you, Lord!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The last couple days have been excellent. I was able to sit in my office chair in my home office (as opposed to the overstuffed comfy recliner where I have lived the past two weeks). Never thought I would celebrate sitting in an office chair over the recliner. This bodes well for me being able to return to my office at Otay on Monday.
I have also been able to return to having meals at the dining room table, instead of the TV trays Anita has so carefully prepared for me. Anita has gone back to work full days as of yesterday, and I am managing quite well by myself. She calls to check on me. And Chris is here until about noon every day, so I am well cared for.
I began today getting rid of anything that reminds me of being sick. By that, I mean I am trying to put everything at home "back to normal". Granted, that means putting some things out of site (in the medicine cabinet, for example). I want to think WELL, and not SICK.
I am feeling WELL, thanks to the Great Physician, my doctors, my family and friends.
Enjoy God's blessings today.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The nurse removed one of the two remaining staples. However, a small spot at the top of my incision, just below the belly button, is not healing as fast as the rest of the incision. They said this may have to heal from the inside out, but were not concerned. It seems to not be infected. I just have to keep it clean and dry.
I was a bit disappointed that Dr. Gaylis was not in today, so I did not get the final pathology. But I know what it says. All margins clear with one ambiguous spot at the apex (lower part of the prostate where it meets the sphincter). Pathologists suspects the margin was invaded, but Dr. Gaylis disagrees. I think they are arm wrestling over the final report. I go back on October 10, and will get the final version then. I am sure that I am healed, so I am not worrying about this.
Thank you all again and again for your care, l;over and prayers. The journey is not over. Today was a major milestone.
Praise God, and Thank You, Lord, for your loving kindness.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
For men in my situation, there are two major concerns. First, was the cancer contained? Getting the cancer before it spreads outside the prostate is critical. For my case, it appears we were able to catch it in time.
The second major concern after dealing with cancer is the issue of continence. I know this is not pleasant to talk about, but it is an important "quality of life issue". I will not know until the catheter is removed on Tuesday (15 days after surgery) how well my continence (or lack thereof) has been preserved. I know Dr. Gaylis walked a fine line between getting all the cancer and preserving my ability to control urinary function. Most men are incontinent after surgery, but improve over weeks, months and even years.
I leave this matter in the hands of a loving, caring God. Whatever the outcome, I praise God for blessing me with healing and wholeness. And I thank you for your prayers and concerns as focus changes from the major issue to a relatively minor issue after my visit to the doctor on Tuesday.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I continue to look forward to next week when I should regain my independence from "the tether".
Not much new to report, so here is hoping you have a great weekend.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
By this time next week, I hope to have the final pathology report. Dr. Gaylis is confident he got all the cancer. There was one tiny point in the "apex" of the prostate where he and the pathologist differed on their interpretation of a "clean margin" (meaning the cancer has or has not penetrated the edge of the prostate). Think of it as an orange: Was the cancer all inside the orange, or had it penetrated the orange peel? So they will take a closer look under the microscope to get a better reading. Obviously, we hope they find it was a clean margin, and have faith that will be the end of my treatments.
This whole experience has given me a testimony of faith and healing I wish to share with others for the rest of my life.
May God grant you health, wholeness and love today.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This morning, I feel better than ever. The pain has been amazingly low. The one incident last week, where for about a half hour I was in considerable discomfort, may have been trapped gas or passing a blockage or clot. I had pain medication, and got through that just fine.
I'm trying to take over some of the basic tasks of my own care. Anita has been amazing, and I am now capable of doing some of the basics so she can focus on the bigger issues, and get her own tasks done. I love you!
I'll work in my home office half the day, and rest for healing as needed.
Hope you all enjoy a wonderful productive day.
Monday, September 22, 2008
One week later, here I sit in my office (well, my home office) checking my emails, taking care of matters I can handle remotely, and feeling amazingly well. Just gave myself a "sink bath" and shave. Was able to dress myself with one of the "body shirts" Anita got for me. They are perfect for me now, and very comfortable.
I feel great! I'm taking 20 minute walks around the house and back yard. Then rest, don't want to overdo it.
It has not been a picnic, but I have no complaints. To imagine that next Tuesday, when the catheter comes out, this will all begin to be a fading memory, is difficult to comprehend. I hope my experience will be an encouragement for a few of the quarter million men in America who learn they have this disease every year.
I cannot thank Anita enough for all her help and encouragement. PCa is as tough, if not tougher, on the caregiver than the patient.
William (Bill) Jenkins
Cancer Survivor - Four Months and One Week
Saturday, September 20, 2008
On September 30, I am scheduled to have my catheter removed, and get the final pathology report from the lab. That will tell exactly how extensive the cancer was, and what, if any, escaped the prostate.
Today has been pretty good so far. Still taking it easy. Lots of healing needs to take place, and I must be patient. The pain has been very low since yesterday's incident at about 8:00 AM.
I am listening to my body as it tells me what it needs to recover.
Little things, like shaving and taking a "sink bath" are big deals right now. I was able to sit up all morning and watch my Mississippi State Bulldogs get annihilated by Georgia Tech.
Guess I will head back to bed for some rest. Don't want to overdo it.
Bless you, everyone.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I spent 24 hours in ICU, not the normal recovery for Prostate Surgery. Lots of reasons why, but mostly my vitals all dropped dangerously low. More overtime for the Guardian Angels. Anita and Kimo were there to help see me through the rough times.
I have nothing but good to say about the doctors, nurses, and staff at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa. They gave me excellent care. And a special word of thanks to Dr. Gaylis and Dr. Dato who performed the surgery.
I am surprised I have been able to sit up long enough to type this update...but know many of you want to know how things went.
I cannot adequately express my gratitude for your care, concern and prayers. While the doctors were busy bringing healing and wholeness to my weary body, the Guardian Angles reminded me how fortunate I am to have so many people who love me and care about me. They also said you clogged up the prayer lines in heaven. I will remember that for the rest of my life.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The last couple days have been dedicated to taking care of last minute details.
Anita, Kimo and I took Chris out to dinner last night. His birthday is Friday (the 19th), but this was the last time all of us could be together for such a meal.
My orders state no solid food after noon today. Just clear liquids. At four, I start drinking Golyte to flush out my system. And after midnight, nothing...not even water.
The schedule calls for us to be at the hospital by 5:30 AM tomorrow, and surgery will begin at 7:30. Dr. Gaylis said it will take two hours, but I know he was just trying to be reassuring. More likely, it will take three to four hours. I will be in la-la land, and time will not be my concern.
Thank you all for following these daily blogs. I'm looking forward to continuing them when I get home and on the road to recovery.
As I enter surgery, I will focus on the band of guardian angels whose help brought me to this point, and upon your prayers that have helped me find strength for this journey.
Bless you, everyone.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Blue Shield, my insurance provider, sent me a CD with what they call guided imagery. It has very restful music along with narration to calm my fears, focus on a successful surgery and quick recovery. It has helped more than I expected. Studies have shown that people who have a peaceful, positive approach to surgery have less pain and quicker recovery. I'm all for that!
I will be the first to confess that I do not "do sick" very well. My biopsy was a good (or bad) example. I get very grumpy when I am sick. So I hope to make this as positive an experience as possible.
I will attend the SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) IT Managers meeting downtown this morning, and then take care of last minute details at work this afternoon. Tomorrow if my Flex Friday, so when I leave work today, it will be the last time until I return in October.
Here is wishing you a day full of blessings and wellness.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This afternoon I go to the hospital for the pre-op visit. Still have some blood work and chest X-ray to get done, but after that, it's all done. I am mentally and spiritually prepared. They asked that I bring my medical directive (somber thought - but necessary) and prescription medicines (easy one, as I only take thyroid medicine daily).
Not much else to say today. Hope you have a great one, and I'll let you know how it all goes tomorrow.
Bless you, all.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
It all began five years ago when I discovered (by accident, chest X-ray for bronchitis) that I had a benign tennis-ball size tumor in my chest. (Schwannoma - long story, not relevant here.) My friend David Burpeau referred me to his friend and physician, Dr. Brad Kesling, who saw me right away. Dr. Kesling continues to be my General Physician and friend. He is the one who first detected the worrisome prostate signs, and who made significant referrals, especially to Dr. Charles Kossman and Dr. Franklin Gaylis.
Dr. Kossman is my Oncologist. Shortly after meeting him five years ago, we discovered we are both from Mississippi. He is from Cleveland MS, where I went to college. After comparing notes, I recalled that I worked for his father when I was a college student. (See "Small Worlds") We established an instant bond. It was Dr. Kossman who insisted I not take the "wait and see" approach, but that I should have aggressive prostate cancer treatment. He too, is now a personal friend, and is the quarterback on my team of doctors, insuring I get immediate and excellent care. I cannot adequately express how fortunate I am to know Dr. Kossman.
Dr. Frank Gaylis, an outstanding Urologist from South Africa, has given me personal care. Dr. Gaylis and his associate, Dr. Dato, will perform my surgery next Monday. I know I will have the best care available to me in San Diego with these fine Urologists/Surgeons.
Dr. Reza Sharazi is my Radiologist, and if we find the cancer has spread, he and his staff will perform the treatments. Dr. Harold Copans, Cardiologist, has conducted numerous tests, and given me a green light for surgery.
The nice thing about this team is that they all know each other, and work closely together at Sharp Grossmont and Alvarado Hospitals in east San Diego. I feel blessed to have a hospital full of doctors working to get me on the road to health and wellness.
In writing this, I realize these are just names to most of you, but I wanted to share them with you. I consider them my friends as well as my physicians. And I do not think they would be offended by my saying, the lead doctor is The Great Physician.
Bless you, and bless the doctors and nurses who care so for many people in need.
Monday, September 8, 2008
I am doing very well. Still have periods of fatigue, but that is not so bad.
I have a busy schedule this last week before surgery. Most of the medical stuff is done, except for the hospital pre-op visit Wednesday afternoon. I'm trying to get the routine details tended to so I can rest and recover for the following two to three weeks.
If all goes as planned, I hope to return to work October 6 (giving me three full weeks to recover). I'm under no illusion that I'll be 100% by then, but just hope I will be mobile and able to return to work.
It has been gratifying to hear from friends from years ago, and new friends I have made in the HealingWell.com Prostate Cancer Forum. HealingWell is an online support group, and they have been awesome in supporting me through all this. Bless you, all!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Getting down to the single digits for days remaining until surgery.
Blue Cross called me this morning offering some pre-op services I find to be most helpful, including some guidelines and questions for pre and post surgery. They also are sending me a CD with relaxation therapy to prepare me for the operation. (I'll need that.)
I'm off in a few minutes to see two of my doctors. Next week, I will tell you a bit more about each of the wonderful physicians who have helped me along this pathway. I am extremely blessed to have such a fine team working for my well being...and for caring about one individual, because I know they have so many others who need care.
Of course, the lead doctor is The Great Physician!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tomorrow, I make my final rounds before surgery. Have appointments with Dr. Gaylis my Urologist/Surgeon for last minute details, and a visit with Dr. Kesling, my GP, where this whole odyssey began. Probably will have a chest X-Ray and one more EKG.
I'm noticing the numbness in my left leg and foot has returned, and the doctors are aware of it. Tests revealed nothing significant, as far as we can tell.
All things considered, I'm doing very well, physically and mentally.
On with the show!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
This is something mostly prostate cancer survivors and care givers understand, so I apologize for all the acronyms. Just thought I needed to document the journey so far by writing it down somewhere. And I know, "Too much information!"
April 2008 (Age 59 at diagnosis, discovered in UTI treatment)
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test:
PSA 4.4 - (4.0 and below is "normal")
DRE palpable tumor
May 15, 2008 – Biopsy
Pathology: 10 of 15 cores had cancer.
Right lobe (2 of 5 cores 40%) Gleason 3+3
Left lobe (3 of 5 cores 10%) Gleason 3+3
Right lesion (5 of 5 cores 100%) Gleason 3+3
Right base lesion (100%) Gleason 3+3
Right seminal vesical (ambiguous results - possible nerve involvement "lesion too small for grading")
Composite Gleason score 3+3=6 (On a scale of 2 to 10)
Bone scan and pelvic/abdomen CT show no visible metastasis
Began weight loss program (lost 26 pounds between diagnosis and surgery)
June 15, 2008 – Began two months hormone therapy (Casodex 50 mg)
July 1, 2008 – Trelstar HT shot (3 month dose)
July 11, 2008 – EKG, OK
July 16, 2008 – Echo-cardiogram, OK
Aug 25, 2008 – Donated first unit of my own plasma for surgery
Sept 3, 2008 – Stress test OK, and donated second unit of plasma
Sept 5, 2008 – Pre-op visits with Urologist and GP,
Sept 10, 2008 - Hospital Pre-Op Visit chest X-ray, one more EKG
Sept 15, 2008 – Open Radical Prostatectomy (Non-laproscopic, non-robotic)
After surgery, the doctors will get a better diagnosis on the Gleason score (may go up or down) and cancer stage (probably stage II or III). Future treatments hinge on those findings.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Having dealt with the knowledge I have cancer for a few months, a few things are beginning to sink in.
1. You learn you have cancer, but cancer does not have you (unless you let it). Self pity isn’t worth the effort.
2. You learn getting cancer is not a death sentence; it is a declaration of war! I am a survivor, not a victim.
3. You learn some folks are very uncomfortable and withdraw when they discover you have cancer…and that’s OK.
4. You learn some folks (often the most unexpected ones) draw closer, and perform amazing acts of grace and kindness.
5. You learn a cancer diagnosis allows you to reconnect with family and relatives, childhood friends, classmates, and colleagues from the past in a way that might otherwise have never happened.
6. You learn not to sweat the small stuff…even when your favorite football team starts the season with a loss.
7. You learn to celebrate the milestones; even Flag Day, and the little reminders that every day is a precious gift from God.
8. You learn it’s OK to cry; but even better to laugh. And you discover that there are some funny things about cancer; as serious as it is. (Example: Now that I am on hormone therapy, I will finally get to sing in the soprano section of the choir!)
9. You learn that long range plans are necessary; but short term plans are essential. Get on with doing those things you were saving up for retirement.
The calendar has finally rolled over to September, and in a few days, with God’s grace, I will fight and win an important battle in this war. With the help of so many people, especially Anita, I am ready!
And you know I cannot stop short with nine lessons. So here is the most important of all:
10. You learn that you ARE NOT cancer; and that “your sign” is an Empty Tomb, where Jesus so loved you, more than your closest friend or brother, and won the ultimate victory over sin, sickness, suffering and even death.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Apparently they did not get the memo that I am V-E-R-Y CLAUSTROPHOBIC! They were going to shoot me with some radioactive stuff, have me lay VERY still in a CONFINED SPACE for about 15 minutes, then jog on the treadmill, before ANOTHER 15 minutes in the confined space.
I know technology has come a long way. Heck, I work in technology. But I was not able to tolerate the image machine. Too much like the dreaded MRI for me.
I spoke with Dr. Kossman, admitting my weakness. We are going to try again next week with just the old fashioned jog on the treadmill. If I survive, I should be good for surgery. If not...well, who knows what is next...
Enjoy the Labor Day weekend. Let the football fly!
Friday, August 29, 2008
This is a Flex Friday for me, meaning I have a four-day weekend, including the Labor Day holiday.
Still stuck at a little over 300 pounds, so I guess I'm not breaking the 300 barrier before surgery. With my fatigue factors and set to donate more plasma next Wednesday, it is not the time to start a major exercise program. Oh well... Doubt I will have a big appetite after surgery, so maybe then. I am on a grass and bird seed diet already. :-(
Hope you enjoy the holiday!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I have reasonable energy and no symptoms to complain about. Looking forward to the Labor Day weekend, the first college football game, and some R&R in prep for the big day.
Hope you are doing well today, too. Bless you.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The double whammy of hormone therapy and blood donation hit me about 3:00 PM. Wow, the bottom dropped out of my energy reserve. All I could do was go home and to bed.
Got a good rest last night and went on a scheduled ride-along with Chad in our Operations Department. I did OK, but by the time we got back to the office about 11:00 AM, I was "spent".
I'm going to get a bit of rest and hopefully get back to work before too long.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I am squeemish, and don't like the sight of it, especially MINE! But the staff did a great job with "big baby" and it was not bad at all.
I am a bit weak and fatigued today, but now otherwise doing just fine.
Bless you for your caring!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Things kick into high gear starting today. At 5:00 PM, I visit the SD Blood Bank to "make a deposit". My surgeon wants me to set aside some of my own plasma for surgery. One unit today and one next Wednesday.
Friday, I have a "stress test".
Today I am back down to 301 pounds, down from a high of 327 three months ago. While I am happy that I've lost over 25 pounds, I am frustrated that I cannot seem to break the 300 barrier. My goal is 295 by September 15.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to get my cancer removed by surgery. Many folks do not have that option.
I am also grateful to read almost daily of new breakthroughs in cancer research.
Live this day, and every day, to its fullest!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I got upset with myself for apparently falling off my diet a bit. I seem to have hit a barrier, and then actually bounced up a couple pounds. Today I am back down to the 301 to 302 range. It's frustrating I cannot get under 300, but I'm working on it.
Hold those you love close today.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Enjoyed a wonderful phone call with an associate back in Mississippi who lifted my spirits. Thank God for friends who transend the years and miles that separate us.
Life is such a great gift from God. Enjoy every minute of it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
After the l-o-n-g wait for my surgery, things will begin to pick up next week. So if I need to get psyched up, now is the time.
I am very confident all will go well.
Well, I have a busy schedule, so on to the tasks.
Spend some time with those you love today, especially God.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Surgery is four weeks from today, and I think I am now ready mentally and spiritually. Things will pick up next week as I have to set aside some of my own blood, get a stress test, and star the last round of doctor visits.
I cannot adequately express my genuine thanks for all the prayers and words of encouragement.
Bless you all, or as we say in the South, Bless ya'll.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I had a break in at my Casa de Oro office. The burglar(s) literally knocked a hole in the wall from the vacant office next door and stole all my computer equipment in that office.
Then, the story about our fiasco with United Airlines made the Union Tribune yesterday. It set off a bit of a firestorm, and has been picked up nationally by numerous blogs and RSS feeds.
Anita and I were scheduled to speak on the Rick Roberts talk show in San Diego at 8:00 this morning, but that got cancelled at the last minute and will probably air at 7:00 AM tomorrow (Friday).
And oh yes, I am feeling fine. Surgery is one month from tomorrow!
May God bless you today!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I took a bit of a break to finish the 2008 MISAC award application for Otay Water District. It is quite an undertaking to complete the audit. Last year, we won the highest award offered to municipal I.T. Departments in Califiornia. I put the three binders in the mail yesterday afternoon, and feel a huge relief.
Sunday, I completed my regiment of Casodex. For two months, I took this daily medication to stop the growth and spread of prostate cancer. Now, I am off the medication.
Today I weighed 305, down considerably from my all time high. I would like to lose ten more pounds, but may not make that in time for surgery.
I am a bit behind on my communications, and may not catch up as my office at Otay is being rebuilt today. So I will be technologically challenged.
Have a wonderful day and know that every good and perfect gift comes from God.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Hope you have a Terrific Thursday.
May you experience God's love and grace today.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I have a busy schedule, so this report will be brief.
"May sin rouse your anger,
but never let anger cause you to sin."
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I know I sound like a broken record, but at least the news is good. I am feeling so much better.
I enjoyed a LONG (4-day) weekend, and took off yesterday to handle some personal errands. So today is back to work.
So many of you are praying for me, and I want to assure you I am praying for you.
Claim the blessings of God for your life today.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I got on the scales this morning and weighed 306. That is down from a high of 327 at my doctor's office, so I have now lost over 20 pounds, and feel it!
Thank you all for your words of encouragement and prayers.
May God bless you this day!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Having TWO days off (back-to-back) has given me time to get some things done I have been putting off. Also I am getting my home office set up for my recuperation.
Surgery is six weeks from Monday. The reason it is so far off include (1) a very busy surgery schedule for my urologist and hospital, (2) time for the hormone therapy to reduce my tumors, and (3) time for me to lose as much weight as possible. The incision will be eight to ten inches long, and I will heal better if there is no "beer belly". (And I don't drink beer.)
Anita and I talked yesterday, and I told her I am a more apprehensive about the surgery than I am the cancer at this point. In many ways, I wish I could get it done now, and get on the road to recovery. But as I have preached for years, "Be anxious for NOTHING"! That's where faith comes into reality.
Thank you all for your prayers and caring.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thank goodness for a good night's rest. Today is my "Flex Friday" (I work 9 hour days and get every other Friday off).
Today I am setting up a new computer at home attached to my new HD television. This is a gift to myself, and will make it easier for me to keep up with this blog and do light work remotely as I recover from surgery. Plus, it is awesome!
May God give you a full measure of grace and peace today.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Surgery is 46 days away. Kickoff of college football season is 31 days away. I'm glad my recovery from surgery will include watching copious amounts of my favorite pastime.
God is so good! Offer Him thanks and praise as you walk your journey today.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Wow, what an earthquake! Yes, I felt it. First thought: someone was running and stomping on the floor above me. I thought, "Someone had better make their children behave. They are running wild!" Then I realized, this is an earthquake. Not my first, but they always catch you off guard. We Southern Californians live in a virtual paradise, but earthquakes and wildfires bring us back to reality. No damage around here, and from what I hear on TV, not much damage near the epicenter. \
UPDATE: I hopped onto the scales this morning and as hard as I tried, I could not get above 310 pounds. For a 6'5" guy, I am admittedly overweight. When Dr. Sharazi weighed me about six weeks ago, I weighed 327. Yikes. That is the heaviest I have ever weighed. Today my scales at home (we have the doctor office type scales with the doohikee that slides left and right) I weighed 309. Granted, those are two different scales, and one was fully dressed (shoes, wallet, cell phone, key ring) and the other was in PJs. That's 18 pounds in six weeks. (I'm smiling!) Look out 295, here I come.
Offer praise and thanksgiving to God for being alive in this wonderful world today!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Today, I am having lunch with a man who had prostate cancer surgery less than a month ago. Fay Von Herzen, former member at Christ UMC, connected the two of us. Clyde is 72 years old, and was attending his granddaughter's softball games two weeks after surgery! WOW. Of course, he had the robotic surgery which is less invasive. Unfortunately, I am not a candidate for robotic surgery. Mine will be the old fashioned kind. But I am impressed that some men can bounce back so quickly.
I will have plenty of questions for Clyde.
Hope you experience the love of God today!
Monday, July 28, 2008
As noted earlier, the next couple weeks are relatively free of doctor visits and tests. Guess I have no excuse for not getting on with losing some more weight!
I am having lunch today with my District Superintendent, Myron Wingfield.
Everyone is so supportive! I am truly blessed!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I met with the urologist yesterday, and things are settling down for a month. I pushed back my stress test, blood donations, and other pre-op procedures until late August. So now I have a month to work on losing some more weight and getting as healthy as possible for surgery.
I am not a candidate for the new robotic prostate surgery, so mine will be the old fashioned type surgery. Robotic surgery has a lot of advantages, not the least of which are no incision, less blood loss, and quicker recovery. But when they need to insure a "clean margin" around the prostate, and take some lymph nodes, as in my case, the old fashioned surgery works best.
The doctor says when I finish this month's supply of Casodex, I can go off that (at least for now). So I will have two months of this hormone therapy completed by surgery. It should shrink the tumors in my prostate and make the surgery go easier.
Well, we have a busy schedule today, so I'll sign off for now. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Hope your worship this weekend is extra special.
Friday, July 25, 2008
This has been a very good week. I see my urologist, Dr. Gaylis, today. He will perform my surgery. This visit is to get all the details worked out as we get closer to the big day.
We are enjoying having our family from Simi Valley spend a few days with us.
Enjoy every day as a gift from God!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Dee, Scot, Tak and Kat came down from Simi Valley yesterday. Scot, Chris and Kimo are going to attend COMIC-CON, the gigantic comic book annual event that is SOLD OUT at the SD Convention Center. All the rave over the Batman movie is being played out with folks walking our streets in full comic character costume.
We clelebrated Kat's 8th birthday last night. Actually she will be 8 on 08.09.08. (That's a bunch of 8s). But since we will not see her then, we moved the birthday cake thing up to this visit.
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." ~Mark Twain
I am sure there is some quack in a dark alley in Tijuana who has a cure for prostate cancer. Just buy a bottle of his sawdust for $100 (no, make that $500) and you will be cured for sure.
I have been careful to research reputable sources (such as the National Cancer Foundation website) to determine if there are supplements proven in studies to be helpful for guys in my situation. Here is what I found.
DISCLAIMER: The following is for reference only. Don't go out and buy all of these, mix them together, and call me when you go blind or get a chronic belly ache! Use common sense, and consult your physician before taking any supplements.
1. Pomegranate juice or extract. I mention pomegranate in yesterday's "To eat" section. As I discovered, they are delicious, but not easy to eat. I got more on me than in me. Well, a recent study showed pomegranate juice (or extract - in a gell pill) have positive results for prostate cancer prevention.
2. Sun-dried tomatoes. Another study showed re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes have a powerful effect in fighting prostate cancer. Why not just eat tomatoes? I don't know, but the active cancer fighting elements in tomatoes are intensified when sun dried and then re-hydrated. Warning, they are not exactly tasty, so I ground the sun-dried tomatoes into a power (using my coffee bean grinder) and sprinkle the power on certain foods and salads. (I don't charge extra for Dr. Jenkins recipe!)
3. Lycopene. This is the active ingredient in tomatoes. It is available in supplement form if you find it inconvenient to eat 40 tomatoes a day. :-)
4. Pectin. As stated yesterday pectin (found mostly in the peel of certain fruits, such as oranges and apples) is another powerful anti-cancer agent. I just got a bottle of 90 tables at my health food store for about $6.00. One to three tablets at mealtime should last me a month.
5. Vitamin E. This vitamin may be found in green leafy vegetables, wheat germ oil, various vegetable & nut oils (almond, cottonseed, safflower and sunflowers) hazelnuts, and sweet potato. It helps build strong cell structure, and since prostate cancer is a cell disease, Vitamin E helps fight prostate cancer.
6. Vitamin D. As with vitamin E, vitamin D helps build strong cells. Moderate sunshine exposure (15 minutes a day - with sun screen) can help elevate vitamin D. Good sources include dairy products -(low fat, please), breakfast cereals with vitamin D, and fatty fish, including salmon and tuna. Helps build bones as well, which helps men on hormone therapy for PCa.
7. Genistein. Found in such diverse foods as soybeans, tofu, soy milk, red clover, curry powder, chili powder, crushed red chili pepper, genistein helps inhibits proliferation of PC cells by transforming some of them into a different, non-proliferative cell type.
8. Fish oil. If you cannot eat the recommended diet of fish with alpha omega-3 oil, then fish oil supplement may be an option.
9. Selenium. Laboratory cell culture studies have shown that selenium can reduce growth of PC cells.
10. Epigallocatechin. Better known as green tea. There are conflicting studies as to how effective green tea may be for PC, but most indicate it is very helpful.
Remember, it is always best to get these elements into your body by eating the proper foods that contain them. But when that is not possible or practical, supplements may be the best alternative.
Now, I'm ready to hang out my shingle: Dr. Jenkins, Herbal medicines. (Just kidding)
Yesterday, I listed the foods a man should NOT eat. Today, I want to share what I have learned a man SHOULD eat. This is a bunch more fun.
1. Fish. Especially fish with very beneficial alpha omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally eat salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout, at least two to three times a week. Broiled, not fried.
2. Fruit. Instead of grabbing a cookie or potato chips when you get the munchies, grab a handful of red grapes, an orange or apple. I read a report yesterday that said fruit pectin (MCP) is a powerful anti-cancer agent. But don't start eating orange peels (where pectin is most commonly found). There are more digestible versions out there. (More on this tomorrow).
3. Vegetables. Especially broccoli. I keep reading studies that say broccoli has special antioxidants that can help stop tumor growth. Leafy dark-green veggies are best. Cruciferous vegetables are cancer protective. These include cabbage and cauliflower.
4. Tomatoes. OK, I know this is either a fruit or vegetable, depending on which botanist you talk to. But I'm singling tomatoes out because they seem to have a power ingredient that helps prostate health. Lycopene is a powerful anticancer substance. And are you ready for this? A recent study showed sun-dried tomatoes are especially beneficial. I kid you not.
5. Pomegranates. Yes, I know this is fruit. But again I single it out because a recent study showed this fruit has very positive results for men's health.
6. Watermelons. Another fruit, but with special benefits. It contains selenium, a prostate-healthy component. Cantaloupes are good as well. Most studies support a daily selenium supplement of 200 micrograms a day.
7. Olive oil. This is very healthy and rich in vitamin E and antioxidants. Avocado oil is also good. Avoid oils high in polyunsaturated fats such as corn, canola, or soybean.
8. Dark bread and grain. Eat plenty of wholegrain (dark) breads and cereals, but as I said yesterday, WHITE bread is NOT good for you. When I go to Subway, I get a 6" turkey sub on wheat bread. That's what Jared, the Subway guy who lost 2000 pounds, ate. :-)
9. Nuts. Be careful here, because nuts are loaded with fats. But some nuts, in moderation, are very good. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium. Don't OVERDOSE.
10. Green tea. The jury is still out on this, but most studies indicate green tea has beneficial results.
One extra, DO NOT eat that charbroil black residue on foods cooked on the grill. It has CANCER-CAUSING ingredinets. Beware!
So you don't have to go on a sawdust and tree bark diet to have a healthy prostate. (And ladies, these food are good for your health as well!)
Tomorrow, I'll share some supplements you may consider.
I hope you experience the love and grace of God today!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Thought I would share some ideas on a prostate healthy diet. You may think, wait a minute, you have prostate cancer! Who are you to talk about a healthy prostate?
Like most men diagnosed with prostate cancer (PCa), we devour every word written about how we may have encouraged the cancer to develop in the first place, and what we can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle from here on.
As of this morning, I have lost about 15 pounds in the two months since I was diagnosed with PCa. Those were the "easy pounds". Now I will be pleased to lose a pound every two or three weeks.
Here are some of the things I have done:
1. No red meat. I now eat chicken and fish, but no red meat. Studies indicate red meats with high fat content contribute to the chances a man will develop PCa. I know, it sounds tough for a manly man to cut out steaks, hamburgers, and all that good stuff. But take my word for it, if it significantly reduces your chances of getting this cancer, it's worth it. Besides, I love fish and chicken.
2. No animal fats, including gloppy salad dressings.
3. No sugar. Or very limited sugar, since you cannot escape it altogether. Water is good, and if I order a soda, it's the diet variety. Bye bye, cake, pie, donuts and all those things I once loved.
4. Go light on dairy products. Lower fat milk is good. There is almost no cheese in my diet now. I use a no fat creamer in my coffee (along with artificial sweetener). Sorry, no ice cream either.
5. About eggs: I order egg-beater food if I eat breakfast at a restaurant. Yes, I eat an occasional boiled egg in a salad.
6. No "whites". White bread, white rice, white potatoes. I heard a nutritionist from UCSD say "The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead." Wheat bread is best!
7. Small portions. One of my doctors said weight control all comes down to portion size. My Mother told us to eat everything on our plate. But that was when we were growing up. As a middle aged (and older) adult, having a "happy plate" may not be the best plan. Calories do count.
8. No trans-fats. For a Southerner, who eats almost everything fried, this one hurts. But I am laying off all fried foods, or as many as possible. No french fries.
9. Avoid excess preserved, pickled, or salted foods.
10. Go easy on the nuts. Certain nuts have cancer healthy substances, such as selenium in Brazil nuts. But most nuts are loaded with fats and oils.
I know it sounds Spartan, but to be honest, I am not missing all that stuff as much as I imagined. And that is because I have replaced these with some surprisingly tasty PCa friendly foods.
I will share those with you tomorrow.
May God bless you today!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Last week, I had two days when I felt pretty bad; nausea, fatigue, headache and dizziness. But that is because the hormone treatments are doing their job.
I started taking daily Casodex pills about June 15, and got a three-month shot of Trelstar on July 1. This double whammy of hormone therapy should stop my prostate cancer in its tracks and reduce the tumor size by the time I have surgery on September 15.
My PSA level was 4.4 in mid April, when I went to my general physician with a uninary tact infection. Anything over 4.0 may indicate cancer, but mine was not as high as many men with PC (with levels of 10, 20 or much more).
On May 15, I had a biopsy that revealed I had prostate cancer. On the Gleason Scale, I was a 6. The range runs from 2 to 10, so again, my numbers were in the mildly aggresive range.
However, the biospy indicated the cancer may have spread to the seminal vesicles. So although my PSA and Gleason numbers were not "panic time", the fact that the cancer may have spread is more troubling. Put it another way, I am a-typical.
So I am gateful my physicians are taking an aggressive approach, which will include surgery (radical open prostatectomy), homore therapy, and most likely radiation therapy, depending on what the surgery finds.
The biopsy was much more difficult for me than it should have been. A-typical again! But I am now recovered from the side effects and feeling very well.
I have already had a bone scan and CT scan which do not show any visible signs the cancer has spread.
Last week, I had an Echo-cardiogram that on the surface looks good, and a consulation with my oncologist, Dr. Charles Kossman, the final meeting with him before surgery.
This week, I see my urologist, Dr. Frank Gaylis, who will perform the surgery. It is still almost two months away, but I have tests and Doctor visits amost every day.
It is an undertatement to say I am receiving the best care possible! And I know The Great Physician has everything under control.