Yes, I’ve been on another hiatus. My last post was in April, before I started radiation therapy for my stubbornly recurrent prostate cancer. My last session of EBRT (Electron Beam Radiation Therapy) was this past Wednesday, July 5. All told, there were 38 sessions of hoedowns with electrons. 35 were aimed at the pelvis. The remaining 3 targeted my boobs.
Why the boobs?
I am taking bicalutamide, commonly known as Casodex, for the foreseeable future. The drug is an ‘antiandrogen’ (which sounds like a vitamin Data might take on Star Trek). The drug blocks testosterone, which prostate cancer cells guzzle like frat boys downing beer at a Friday night jammy.
While my side effects from radiation have been few, other than increasing fatigue, the Casodex has at times muddled my thought processes, and seems to be jacking up my blood pressure. But one very common side effect is gynecomastia. Manboobs. Tender, growing, manboobs. To keep me out of the wife’s bra supply, I had radiation to the boobs. So far, it seems to be working. My boobs don’t look any bigger than those of t-shirted overweight ex-jocks carousing on Main Street, Pittston.
But I frequently find myself saying something most men never expect to say: “My f*****g boobs hurt!”
While the pelvic radiation focuses on the most likely home of the persistent cancer cells, near the bed where the prostate once rested, the drug inhibits any cells which may be living elsewhere in the body and are at present undetectable. When discussing the Casodex prescription with my oncologist, I asked a simple question: “What stage is my disease now?”
He looked at me, the patient who has done tons and tons of reading on this disease and thought he had a pretty good command of the subject, as if I had two heads and replied, “You’re cancer is recurrent. There is no staging.”
Long and short, I am still potentially curable assuming that the only prostate cancer cells in my body are living where the electrons spent the last seven weeks partying. But there are no guarantees, and I haven’t been particularly lucky so far. The recurrence came in less than three years, instead of five or ten years down the pike. For now I am back on having my PSA checked every 3 months. If it has gone down in October that means there’s a great likelihood the cancer was local and I’ll be around a while. If it doesn’t budge, or has nudged up, it increases the likelihood that a funeral director will be going through my pockets for loose change sooner than I would like.
* A word of warning * to anyone who might say: “Well, if you have to get cancer, you got the right one!”
I will punch you in the face and smother you between my manboobs.
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Why did I start this overdue post with the above? The recurrence led me to evaluate literally everything about my life. I might be around a decade or more, until I choke to death on a chicken wing. But there is a chance, however small, that I am on a shorter road. I had to choose what to let go, and I put significant thought into that. My logic was this: There are things that take me away from my family and from things I love to do. If I gamble that I am going to be around for a decade or more and lose that gamble, I have squandered precious time I could have spent with the people I love. If I let certain things go, and I do stick around a long time, the quality of that time goes up.
Framed that way, it wasn’t much of a decision in the end. So what did I walk away from?
It was a painful decision, as I’ve been hip deep in politics since 2004. I have very few regrets, and incredible memories. There are a few people I will help behind the scenes, people I consider very great friends indeed, but other than that I’ve walked away. I resigned as a GOP district chair and as a committee person. It was a deeply personal decision, but I have no regrets. I think I made some small difference, and decided it was best to go out at the top of my game. I've been a very good and loyal soldier, one who believes you either belong to something or you don't, and I've acted accordingly. It's how I'd like to be remembered.
I am taking an extended hiatus from Facebook. There are a lot of reasons, but I largely consider it toxic. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so if I wasn’t so immersed in politics, but it is, for me, a hostile environment. There’s a lot of shouting, tons of vile posts, and very little room for reasonable discussions. In addition, it is an enormous waste of time, and time is precious to me now. Will I resurrect my profile? Perhaps, but not for quite some time.
What did I keep?
I will return to writing. I am part of the writing team at Project Wednesday where the goal is positive human development. Making a difference. That’s something that’s important to me. I encourage you to look at Project Wednesday. There are some wonderful young voices there, and one old fart. You will feel better for the experience.
On that, I close the post. I will return soon.
Be good to each other.
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