It is scan day for me today. Scan day is something I have experienced 3 times before. Scan day happens when my PSA shoots up for some reason, so the docs want to know what is going on inside my body and if my advanced prostate cancer has spread to my organs or my bones. Scan day used to freak me out with lots of crying and general carrying on, but now, after doing this a few times, it really is no big deal to me anymore.
For you muggles out there, here’s what happens on scan day. I wake up early and head down to the hospital to the nuclear medicine department. Nuclear medicine sounds like a scary, intimidating thing, but it’s really not. It’s just really kind of advanced radiology, because they need to shoot some radioactive isotopes into your bloodstream so things will light up for the scans. It’s kind of cool, really, except for the fact that this is all being done to make sure you’re cancer hasn’t spread.
I arrive early so they can put an IV port in my arm for the dyes and the radioactive stuff to work it’s way through my system. I’ve never been a fan of needles, but being a 7 year cancer survivor has made me completely oblivious to them. The thought of me walking around all day with an IV port in my arm is no big deal to me. The old me, the pre cancer me, would totally flip out with just the thought of a needle in my arm for hours at a time.
I’m telling you these things, how I’ve gotten used to things like needles and taking an entire day to have scans done in a nuclear medicine department, to tell you something else I have had to get used to. I am used to the thought that there’s a good chance I will no longer be alive in another 5 years.
Here’s the thing about prostate cancer. If the cancer escapes the prostate and is not totally encapsulated in the prostate when it is removed, you are basically fighting a losing battle. There are cancer cells floating around somewhere in my body, and they keep showing up with my rising PSA. Now, things like radiation and hormone therapy and other therapies will keep driving down my PSA and help me live longer, but eventually these therapies will no longer be effective. When the cancer eventually spreads to my organs or my bones, chemotherapy can be used to slow down or stop the cancer from spreading. But even those treatments will eventually be ineffective, and the side effects would make my life so miserable that a decision would need to be made if the treatments would be worth the few months of life that they would provide. Those decisions are incredibly hard to make, and a lot of factors would need to be weighed.
There is no cure for advanced prostate cancer. You can manage the symptoms, you can extend your life with different therapies, but, eventually, it’s gonna get you. This is something’s I’ve had to come to grips with. This is my everyday.
So, before that happens, I’m gonna drink in life. I’m gonna see Maine and California. I want to see Normandy. The bucket list will be worked on.
But more than that, I want to just live. I want to get up, go to work, do my job. I want to love my wife and kids as much as I can, for as long as I can. I want to laugh with friends. I want to dig my toes in the sand with a drink in my hand. I want to watch the sun fall into Lake Michigan and light up the sky with orange and red and purple and blue. I want to listen to music and sing along.
I’m going to be there for my son’s wedding. I want to be there for grandkids, but I’m not sure if I will be. If I am, I will rejoice. If I’m not, I will be with the Lord rejoicing with Him.
And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Enjoying the life God has given me, and then, when that life is over, taking His hand and rejoicing in my new life. That thought calms me, and gives me peace.
I know I have a lot of people praying for me right now. Those prayers have given me the strength to once again get through this, and carry on.
Thanks for the prayers. Keep ’em coming.
And thanks for reading.