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Coping With The Six Letter Word – Cancer

August 10, 2021

I don’t normally let it all hang out but here goes!

Like most people, I always thought cancer would be someone else’s problem that I would read about, safely tucked away at a safe distance. It’s an ugly word and one that has become universally feared. I have recently joined that fear.

Many, many months ago my PSA started to rise, at first slowly and then it accelerated. When I asked my general practitioner what was up, he assured me that, “It’s just your age – It’s normal.” I accepted his answer but still asked about the sudden rise in PSA levels. He simply said, “Don’t worry!”

This went on for many months. As I regularly check my PSA levels, I became more concerned at my doctor’s cavalier attitude. Finally, just a week before he retired, I insisted on being referred to a urologist specialist. He wrote me the referral and then quietly retired, leaving me to face a very uncertain future.

The urologist appointment was uneventful. However, he was concerned with the PSA level’s sudden rise and ordered a test that measures the potential for cancer based on genetic markers in the urine content. The results came back stating that I had an 88% chance of having “significant cancer.” Yikes!

The next step was an MRI, It showed a “suspicious area” with significant growth outside the prostate gland. Double yikes! That was immediately followed-up with an in office biopsy. While these are not pleasant, they are needed to confirm a diagnosis of cancer. I waited impatiently for the results. When they came in, the first of the bad news was laid on me like a ton of bricks. Yes, I had prostate cancer in three of the four quadrants of my prostate gland with an “external abutment” and a suspicious adjacent lymph node. Now, we were talking triple yokes!

The diagnosis of cancer having been made, it was time to see how far it had progressed. First a bone scan was ordered. Thankfully, it showed that the cancer had not spread to the bones. That is a good sign as the contrary situation can be often fatal.

Next, a whole body and pelvic CTA scan were ordered to see if there was any obvious metastasis to nearby organs. That too was negative, although it came with a big asterisk. Because there was a suspicious lymph gland possibly involved, there were no guarantees. In fact, the diagnosis was moved ever upward to stage four cancer. Those are not words anybody wants to hear. However my oncologist remained optimistic.

The next step was to decide what to do about all of this. The choices eventually boiled down to two treatments: A radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland) or radiation treatments. I opted for the latter, as they normally provide better results for men my age. Well, of course the journey had just begun. First, I was informed that I had to have two or three Lupron injections. These basically slow the cancer growth down as they are hormone treatments with some very significant side effects. Then I was told, I had to wait six weeks for the actual radiation treatments to begin. Those were determined to consist of 44 separate visits to the oncology unit of our hospital.

It’s not like the old days, when they just irradiated everything from the waist down. There was a thing called “simulation,” wherein a computer model is made of the proposed radiation including the scope and intensity of each treatment. I passed that part with flying colors. More waiting ensued along with more worry.

All of the “in betweens” in this process caused me to deeply ponder my life, my life expectancy and the future that laid in store for my dear wife of 40 years. Would I wind up dying anyway? Could we afford all of this medical stuff, even with insurance? (We are talking about thousands of dollars even with excellent medical coverage,) What emotional toll would the whole affair take on my wife, our marriage and our whole future? Lots of questions with very few concrete answers.

So tomorrow I start the actual radiation treatments along with another “simulation,” replete with the unusual diet, bowel and bladder preparation. What the next nine weeks will hold for me is an unanswered mystery. The doctors are optimistic (at least verbally) but I still wonder and worry. As with all things, time will tell.

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33 Comments
  1. Good Luck,Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep the faith. At least you are now working on the problem so it does not get bigger.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Timothy Price permalink

    That is unfortunate news, and sadly something that could have been caught earlier if your PCP had not had a blase attitude. I never had radiation, but a word of advice: do whatever the doctors and nurses tell you to reduce side effects and nausea from the treatments. I’ve been through two bouts with cancer and had a stem cell transplant. Following the advice of my oncologists and nurses, I never experienced nausea and worked every day I didn’t have treatments. I was going into stage 4 lymphoma on my first cancer, and the chemo regimen was intense. It was double the intensity in preparation for the stem cell transplant, which involved killing my bone marrow. The point of no return, and the 9 days before the transplant started to kick in was scary and intense.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m heading there myself. Best of luck, Godspeed and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope they are more advanced with treatment than it was in the past. Take care and you will get back to your norm

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nello permalink

    Allen, you are in my prayers. Wishing you the best outcome possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wishing you the best during the treatments Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, keep the faith. Stay positive! It’s tough news but i hope for the best for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Allen
    Thankyou for explaining what is happening with your mind, body and soul search..
    As loved ones go through difficult health challenges, it feels like we are going through the tunnel with them. Spiritual energy is enlightened…giving strength to endure. Calling on our collective courage, embracing core beliefs to sustain this crisis. Allen as you express your thoughts, it is you taking as much control over this as you can. It signals your attention to rise up for this battle. We come together for you…as a vigil. Remaining by your side. Feel the energy, receive it. Know that your team is ready 24/7. Love & light ✝️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’ll be in my thoughts, Tony. Please stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sending my best wishes your way, Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good luck, my dear Allen
    I underwent two cycles of chemotherapy, fifteen years apart and I am lucky to be still here to remember that

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So sorry Allen! I will definitely add you to my prayer list! Hang on tightly to the Lord, He will help you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good lack, Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. CONGRATULATIONS! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2021/08/friday-fossicking-13-aug-2021.html
    Thank you,
    Chris
    Wishing you well, Allen..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Allen first let me say how glad I am that you shared your story. I am already praying for you and if you are a non-believer it sure can’t hurt. I know the power of prayer works. My husband had prostate cancer and he is now in his 80’s and still going strong. I believe in miracles too. Positiveness helps too. Your wife is there for you and because she loves you that is not going to hurt your marriage. I hope that when you feel like it that you will share how you are doing. I am very sorry about this heart wrenching news. Try to think positive and I will be praying for you. Sending my love to you and all your family. Love and hugs to you all and many prayers – Joni

    Liked by 1 person

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