For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 50 years old and I last year had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. In early February, I got the results of the latest PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?
Stop Press, just got the latest PSA test results. The bad news? It is up from 3.5 at the last test. The good news? It is 3.9 which is still below the 4.1 in November 2011. I look forward to the exciting meeting with my cancer specialist in a couple of weeks with interest. I am sure that he'll want to snip more bits off me now. I shall keep you posted.
It has been a pretty horrible week all round. I currently have a house guest and I must say he's freaking me out. He is a very good friend. He played bass in my band for 28 years and I shared many of the best moments of my life with him, certainly most of the highlights of my musical career. Sadly, he is in a big brown plastic jar. I collected his ashes from the undertakers on Thursday, so he's sitting on my mantlepiece right now. All that talent in a brown plastic tub. How can that be. He died in April of Oesophageal Cancer. He's at the end of a road which may or may not face me. That is not conducive to a happy state of mind. Here is a track he wrote and played bass on. When I made this video, it was a bit of a cruel joke by me on the world, Paul was on the run from the Police at the time, by the time I uploaded it to Youtube, he'd been caught and was in prison. He was the driver in a gang which were robbing gaming machines in service stations. He had quit the band to embark on a life of crime. Sadly it all went wrong. The last two years of his life consisted of a year in prison and a year dying. Now he's sitting on the shelf in my front room. Hope you enjoy it. This was really just a bit of fun to show him when he got released. Now it means a bit more to me
I have been thinking about starting to play music again. I've had a bit of a sabbatical. I have approached an old bandmate and we're talking about doing an acoustic set of old numbers. I don't want to play music really, but I am not a quitter so feel I should.
Perhaps even more upsetting than having a dead bassplayer in the house is the news that a friends mum is very poorly with the big C. When Paul had the disease, for reasons which were unfathomable, I didn't discuss any aspect of his treatment or alternative therapies etc with him. I don't know why. When he passed on, I felt I'd not handled it well. I am not saying that drinking green tea or eating watercress would have added one second to his life, but it may have made him feel empowered. It is good to have the option. My friend told me she felt her mum was in denial. I said that in my opinion that isn't the worst thing in the world. I hope that if it gets me, I'm in denial as long as possible. The truth is none of us know when the grim reaper will come knocking. We should all make the most of each second, but if we know that trouble is comin' a knockin, then we should make a special effort to do what things we can to enjoy what time we have left.
All in all, I am finding it hard to say anything upbeat about my feelings towards this disease today. I feel a degree of anger, because I believe that if the worlds medical authorities co-ordinated their research and best practices, more people would survive far longer. Even more annoying for me is the fact that the medical profession have no interest at all in complimentary therapies, even though many of these have a scientifically measurable beneficial effect. It stands to reason that if some natural substances are carcinogens, others must be anti-carcinogens. The reasons that these are not quantified is that there is no money in such treatments for the pharmacutical companies. I am not a believer in conspiracies, they just have no financial interest in showing that eating tomatoes and watercress and drinking green tea may add a couple of months to your lifespan if you have cancer and may stop you developing it if you haven't.
We are told to "eat five portions of vegetables a day". Most of us don't realise that cancer is a disease which is far less likely to develop if we follow this advice (although I've been informed that the correct figure is nine portions a day). We are vaguely aware that organic may be "good for us" but no one tells us that the pesticides in non organic are carcinogenic. There are all manner of other things which contribute. When people have late stage cancer, they are often told "you might as well do what you like because nothing will change your prognosis". It seems to me that the more you do to impede the development of the cancer, the better your chances, no matter how slim. If you've been given a 99% chance of not surviving three months, that means you could be the lucky no 100. If adopting an anti cancer diet increases that chance to 95% you are five times more likely to hang on. It's a slim chance, but someone has to be the lucky ones.
I find it all so frustrating. What can you say? I hate seeing friends going through bad times, the sheer cruelty of the world gets me down at times. All I can say is that we should all make the most of what we have today. Tomorrow, next week or next month may be too late.