Maybe cancer; maybe not


My prostate antigen level in April of 2011 was two. This April, it was 4.5. This week, it’s 4.9. I’ve had a few biopsies over the years—including one of my lower abdomen and another of a neck vertebrae for which the surgeon had to go through the front of my throat—but I never believed I had cancer. This time, I think I do.

I would hate like hell to leave Peggy alone. I would also hate to leave my "bloggy friends" as Nollyposh used to call them (she was one of four bloggy friends I lost to cancer). A lot of people will find out that they're dying just in the time it takes to write this post, and that won't be long because I'm still doing my experiment with minimal editing.

A few years ago my 56-year-old neighbor, John, drove three hours, climbed a 10,358-foot peak (3,157 meters), and drove home. I saw him that evening, and he complained of fatigue. I laughed, but he said that, no, this fatigue was different. He died a year later of prostate cancer. (I can hardly hold out to clean house anymore, which is one of the reasons I think I have cancer). John died next door, but I never went to see him because I didn’t really know him, and I wasn’t sure I would be welcome. He was also a lawyer, and I hate lawyers. I now wish I had gone because it would have been the right thing to do. I also like being around people who are dying.

Doc Martin is phobic of blood; Nurse Peggy is phobic of cancer. She's so scared that she’s been having to struggle to keep from hyperventilating. 

I've often wondered whether it would be easier to have a terminal illness than to live in pain. One advantage of living in pain is that I have a sense of time stretching before me, and that gives me reason to hope that I will either beat the pain eventually or at least learn to tolerate it better.

My odds of survival are probably good even if I have cancer, but there’s still that 3% chance that I’ll be dead within five years. After ten years, the chance is 30%, and it keeps going downhill from there. As cancer goes, only lung cancer kills more Americans than prostate cancer.

I won’t be getting any more teeth crowned until I have a prognosis. The damn dentist crowned one in January, and that alone drained my insurance for the rest of the year. He wanted to crown another one in April, but I said no, so he squirted some gook into the hole in the hope that it will last until January 2013.

Helter Skelter captures my mood today just as it captured the mood of America in the late ‘60s. To represent the early ‘60s, I chose Johnny Angel. How, in a single decade, do you go from songs about cars and teenage romance to songs about drugs, death, defeat, confusion, alienation, insanity, and injustice?

I like things that mess with my head, so I like Helter Skelter. The good thing about music is that I can turn it off if it gets too intense. With real life, I have to divide myself into two parts. One part thinks, feels, and acts; the other part dispassionately observes the part that thinks, feels, and acts. Pain can become so consuming that it draws my observer part into it, and that's when I go to pieces. I assume that this can also be true of cancer. I really must learn to do better, and I think I'm succeeding. I've felt stronger than ever since my meltdown on Sunday.


P.S. Shelley Fabares is a goddess.




19 comments:

angela said...

I hope its not cancer and its something simple they can treat. I hate cancer also, for nollyposh and my sister in law and for my best friend who is fighting ovarian cancer. She has been told she will loose this fight and so we fight on anyway as were there is breath there is hope. Hugs to you my pain buddy!

kylie said...

i hope you dont have cancer but i knew a woman who almost died of bowel cancer and when she didnt die she also stopped getting the totally debilitating migraines she had suffered all her life.
it would be nice if something like that could happen to you

love,
k

lotta joy said...

NOTHING scares me like cancer. That's why when I had the beginnings of a heart attack last week, I lit a cigarette. I welcomed the chance to check out via my choice. (it WAS diagnosed as a "small" one. After 4 days of being totally weak, I'm okay)

I once had a doctor in the 1970's who had a lot of common sense. She said then "if all men live long enough, they will all get prostate cancer".

And as the men in my family aged into the 60's, one by one they each got it.

Some had it removed. Some opted for the radiation "beads" to be inserted. Five, Seven, and eleven years later, are all still here. NO CANCER.

They have lived long enough to get OTHER things wrong with them besides cancer: if that helps any, you're welcome. {{{hugs}}}

Kerry said...

You have said so much here in such a short time. I don't know where to begin. First: I hope you don't have cancer. Second: If you do, I think you'll manage it & who knows maybe the new drug will help the old pain. Third: It must be hard to be married to a medical professional when you get sick. Fourth: I have little experience in any of this and so I hope I'm not offending you. Fifth: It IS crazy how the emphasis changes within 5 or 10 years. jeeez I never knew this before.Sixth: turn the music on and off as needed.

The Tusk said...

Shelly Fabares, I believe a mouseketeer, later she was to star in a Sit Com called Coach. Never missed an episode. Funny term episode, we sometimes use it when someone feeling sick has a flare up of there illness. We say they are having a episode. I like your use of the term SPIRIT, in the phrase ou chose to construct. Snow things are good and bad financially for me emotionally for me and creatively for me. My family is healthy and I am thankful for that. It keeps me barely sane.

I will be monitoring the results of your health as the blogs go on, please keep me posted. I am concerned.

Snowbrush said...

I just heard that Donna Summers died today--at my age--of cancer. Poor kid.

"when she didnt die she also stopped getting the totally debilitating migraines she had suffered all her life."

I wonder what, if anything, the connection was.

"She has been told she will loose this fight and so we fight on anyway as were there is breath there is hope."

It worked for Lance Armstrong whose cancer had spread to various places including his brain.

"She said then "if all men live long enough, they will all get prostate cancer".

I guess they, along with the women, would probably get Alzheimer's too. Early death does spare one a great deal of aggravation.

"It must be hard to be married to a medical professional when you get sick."

Not at all. Peggy probably saved my vision by diagnosing my shingles early. What's hard about being sick around Peggy is that she hurts as much or more as I do.

Tusk, I forgot about the Mouseketeer thing, and I never watched Coach. "Barely sane" is still sane. At least, there's that.

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh Snow. I am so sorry, and am hoping both for you and for Peggy that it isn't cancer. And for us in the blogosphere as well. You would be sorely missed, as the brief glitch a little while ago showed.
I am also convinced that if it is cancer you are quite cantakerous enough to be the sort of survivor who confounds the doctors.
Please keep us posted.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Well Snowbrush, you probably do NOT have prostate cancer. See http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/PSA.
Even having sex the night before can raise those PSA levels (don't answer that, just keep it in mind the next time you get a test).
You can't ignore the results but please keep in mind that they most likely don't indicate certain doom.
Yep, most men if they live long enough get prostate cancer, but they don't die FROM it.

All Consuming said...

Shit. I can only imagine how you and Peggy are feeling. Try to keep a grip on your terror until you have a definite diagnosis, easily said I know. I wish I could hug you. Both of you. xxxx

Charles Gramlich said...

I hope it's not. My brother recently had a rise in his serum levels like that but it turned out to be a false alarm. I tell you, the "C" word scares me.

ellen abbott said...

The only two men I know diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive and kicking. so I think you will be too.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Living with a terminal illness can also be painful... and it is a pain that only gets worse...

Good luck Snow! Hoping for a better prognosis!

Snowbrush said...

"Even having sex the night before can raise those PSA levels"

As can having a doctor shove his fingers up your ass to check your prostate. I know all this, yet I also know that prostate cancer is even more common than breast cancer.

"I can only imagine how you and Peggy are feeling."

Great god almighty, a woman with blue hair is posting on MY blog! Also, my dear you CAN'T POSSIBLY know what we're feeling. It's simply too awful for words. No one before us has ever felt like this!

Have you ever noticed that when people wax sympathetic that it brings out the smart-ass in me? When Renee was dying, I would read what everyone had written, and would leave comments that she loved but that probably took a lot of people's breaths away. BTW, you, AC, were my first bloggy love, and you will still have THAT to comfort you long after am I am dead.

Sarah said...

I don't know what to say but feel compelled to say SOMETHING. What is there to say? Keep writing. I like the picture of you in the woods on the earlier post.

Marion said...

I hope you get treatment. My mean, asshole brother-in-law had even higher numbers than yours. He got the treatment (radiation, I think) and his PSI levels have been normal now for over a year.

You're too damn young to die, Snow. Hang in there. I'm not praying for you. (JOKE!) Love & Hugs, my friend. xoxo

Sonia Rodriguez said...

Doc Martin I love that show. And it was not that long ago you and I lost Renee to a long battle with Breast Cancer. She got me through a very rough patch right after losing my Dad to lung cancer in the horrific way. I read this and think Snow, Snow Renee brought us together then and maybe still and now. I have been fighting the Fibro and the side effects of the crud. After going to the pain specialist and being treated like a Junkie I said no more. I will fight and know all I can know about my illness. That and you sending emails with a joke and checking on me. I appreciate that so much. So now it seems it is my turn to give the friendship back to you as I have been a pit of self pity. That and you are not allowed to leave me so you have to fight even if it is not cancer. Renee will kick my ass if you and I gave up or wallowed in self pity. I have had neighbors pass also and never took the time to get to know them unlike ow my parents always knew everyone in the neighborhood. My issue is being dragged into drama. If I mis spell or skip words its because it is 330am and insomnia has hit and Ive run out of Ambien. Monday when the doctors office refills it. So I figured I may as well stay awake as I may not get back up LOL...What is Peggy's input on this issue? And how is Peggy dealing with this prospect unless Ive missed and it is cancer by now and Im still catching up. Ok I have written a newspaper column by now LOL. Mischief awaits.

xoxox)O(xoxox

Snowbrush said...

"My mean, asshole brother-in-law had even higher numbers than yours.... his PSI levels have been normal now for over a year."

Sorry about your brother-in-law--surviving, I mean. I'm a nice guy, so I'll probably die.

"What is Peggy's input on this issue? And how is Peggy dealing with this prospect unless Ive missed and it is cancer by now and Im still catching up."

Peggy has but little to say about prostate problems. She's an obstetrics nurse so it's a bit out of her area of expertise. As for how she's handling it, she's very scared.

"it seems it is my turn to give the friendship back to you as I have been a pit of self pity."

Oh, Sonia, it saddens me that you would say this. Dealing with hard problems is a process that goes up and down and all around, so please don't beat yourself up about it. I'm just glad you're back in bloggyland.

"After going to the pain specialist and being treated like a Junkie I said no more."

I'm done with those assholes. I suppose there are good ones, but I haven't heard of any. Most doctors aren't that great, but pain specialists appear to lie awake at night thinking of new ways to degrade and humiliate their patients while doing little if anything to help them.

Snowbrush said...

Sonia, I can't comment on your blog. I suppose it has to do with Google+. I have no idea if this means that a person has to be a member of Google+ in order to comment on the blogs of people who are members of Google+, but I need another way to respond to you. If you will give me your email address on my blog, I can comment to you directly, and, of course, I won't allow your address to appear.

The Blog Fodder said...

Go away for a week and come back to this. Not good news at all!
With any amount of luck, you will die of old age before the prostate cancer kills you, if indeed that is what it is. Here's hoping it is a false alarm.