I am so glad I met Dr. Myers
Before I get to that corner, let me describe just 1 minute of my first appointment with Dr. Myers. Dr. number 1, the movie star look-alike, had prescribed a drug called “Megace” to control my hot flashes. The first day I took it the hot flashes disappeared. Hey, I’m happy!
Wrong. Dr. Myers tells me that the FDA is about to require a warning label on Megace—a “black-box warning”—that will basically state that Megace enhances the likelihood of osteoporosis.
I already have osteoporosis. What the hell? Do I really want to take a drug that will encourage it? Fortunately, for me, Dr. Myers is ready with a solution: an estrogen-containing cream that I rub onto my legs once a day. It bypasses the liver, so there are no metabolic dangers and it also stops my hot flashes. Happy again.
I take Fosamax once a week to reverse the osteoporosis.
I also started taking large doses (400 mg, twice a day) of Celebrex. If you are curious, go to Google and type in “PSA Celebrex” and see what you find. Celebrex works against prostate cancer independently of any other treatment and may enhance the effects of radiation therapy. In my view, my risk of cardiac problems is minimal compared with my risk from prostate cancer. You play the hand you’re dealt. Celebrex also has a beneficial effect against some types of colon cancer. I care about that, too.
Side effects from radiation therapy that I experienced were mild nausea, solved with soda crackers and Tums; extreme fatigue like nothing I had ever imagined—I couldn’t drive a car, there were times when I couldn’t even stand up—and severe leg cramps. I learned to love Ben-Gay; I learned to love my wife even more as she would massage my legs. The leg cramps could reduce a grown man to tears; I know. Also mild blistering at the bottom of my spine from what are called “dirty electrons,” or electrons that missed their target. Not many of those, and side effects were minimal compared with Dr. Myers’ experience. He required 2 years to recover from 3-D conformal radiation.
Note: most side-effects lag treatment by 2 to 3 weeks. Remember that. They sneak up on you.
Enough is enough, already!
In October 2004 I have a CT scan to verify that all visible evidence of prostate cancer is gone. We have been striving for this moment, and the news is great: no evidence of prostate cancer! (This doesn’t mean that I don’t still have it. Prostate cancer forms “micrometastases” in bone and lymph. The trick is to keep them at the “micro” level.)
We have succeeded. For now.
Up and down in 30 seconds
However, the same CT scan shows an “unidentified mass” in my sigmoid colon. (Well, if I didn’t have PSA tests, do you really think I had colonoscopies?) I tend to be consistent, even when wrong. Further investigation (a colonoscopy, which really isn’t bad at all) identifies it as colon cancer, a 4-cm mass 30 cm into the sigmoid colon.
I respond to this just like I responded to the prostate cancer: “get this thing out of me!”
On December 3, 2004, I have colon surgery. This is not a walk in the park. I will skip recovery except to note that it was “difficult.” That word condenses a lot. Fortunately for me, colon cancer is fairly well understood. I have, roughly, a stage II colon cancer, which means that the odds of my survival are pretty darned good.
But wait! There’s more . . .(Part 9)