One Week of Radiation in The Can

Warning! Pee and poop talk ahead!

On Friday June 28, I had my fourth radiation treatment. It wasn’t a full week because I didn’t start until Tuesday. I’ll continue radiation every day, Monday through Friday until July 26; with Thursday July 4th off.

The radiation treatments require me to arrive with a full bladder and empty colon. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to poop without peeing, because why would you?, but it is impossible. I have been relatively lucky so far, but the first two days I did have to sit in the waiting room, drinking water and trying to fill my bladder to the right spot so that I could have the treatment. The last two days I was too full and had to “let a little out”. That is also not an easy task.

I feel like I am going to come out of this with a new set of completely useless skills.

After my radiation treatment on Friday, I met with Dr. Mohamad, who is my oncologist. I love Dr. Mohamad and am thrilled to have him as my doctor. He is truly a blessing to me and Mary Ann and I couldn’t have hoped for a better doctor. He is young and is clearly enthralled with cancer. He is a huge cancer nerd and is right on top of the latest research and techniques for fighting it. Another thing I love about MD. Anderson, is that he is not my only doctor. Every treatment plan he writes for me is presented to a board of eight or nine oncologists and radiation physicists, who go over the plan and discuss it. They do this for EACH PATIENT; so you are getting a treatment plan that is peer-reviewed by a board of professionals, and customized for your exact needs.

In our Friday meeting he said that I am responding well to the treatment and that I don’t have to have anymore hormone therapy. The last hormone therapy shot I had was in early June and they are supposed to stay fully active for three months. I was scheduled for another shot at the end of August, but Dr. Mohamad says that I don’t have to have that one, which means that I will begin to come out of the hormone treatment at that time. It will take about six months to a year for the hormone interference to completely abate, but I am happy not to have to spend any more time with effectively no testosterone than I have to.

Dr. Mohamad is very pleased with my results so far. There are some undesirable side effects of the HDR Brachytherapy that I could have had, but didn’t. There are also some undesirable side effects of the radiation treatment that I may experience, but I haven’t so far. Here’s to hoping I won’t.

I am also clear to donate blood if I want to. Mary Ann says that donating blood helps with hot-flashes, so I’ll probably go do that.

The worst part of the cancer treatment is the hormone therapy. It makes you very weak, tired and useless, and gives you persistent hot flashes. The gist is, you feel bad ALL THE TIME and I am looking forward to it going away.

That said, I am glad that it is a treatment that is available to people with prostate cancer, because it denies cancer the fuel it needs in order to grow, and is reversible. My grandfather had prostate cancer in the late eighties, and the treatment they recommended to him was castration. Being an old wild-west cowboy, he wasn’t sure how the cancer was going to affect him, but he was sure of one thing. He was going down with his balls.

If you are a man, get your PSA tested regularly! It’s cheap and just might save your life.

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