Sunday, 20 October 2013

Rog T's Cancer Blog - And the result of your biopsy is

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 51 years old and in October 2011 I  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 a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9. My latest PSA test in August was not quite so promising,  back up to 4.0, in other words the downward trend has stopped. 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? 

So last week I finally got the results of my latest biopsy. This was done back in the middle of September. Rather strangely, I hadn't heard back from the hospital. I eventually phoned urology and they were equally perplexed. They said "we've had a cancellation, so you can come in tomorrow." So off I went to Edgware hospital. My consultant read my notes and drew 2 pictures of my prostate and wrote various notes on each one. In effect this divided the prostate into 4. In each quadrant he wrote a score. This showed how the disease was progressing. He then read some more notes and explained that the biopsy results. Then he gave me the verdict. The MRI I'd had in January hadn't shown anything. The biopsy showed that there was a low grade (3+3 gleason score) in 2 of the four quadrants. This was small and "low grade". He then informed me that the results would be discussed at a "multi disciplinarian" meeting the following week and further action would be taken from there. He said his recommendation would be to continue the regime of active surveillance. He then told me that as MRI scans had improved, if I had an equivalent PSA today test for the first time today, I'd be given an MRI and as nothing had shown up, I would not be in the system. As it is, I am so things are different. In truth, odd as it may sound I am pleased. I have made lifestyle changes and I am far more aware of the implications of diet and exercise. 

So I ask myself are the diet and lifestyle changes working? Are they worth the effort? When I recently had an ECG test, my heart rate was as it should be. My blood pressure is low. I am still playing football and exercising regularly. I still drink too much and probably eat too many curries, but other than that I guess I do the right thing. In my diet, I don't really miss anything much apart from cheese ( I avoid dairy). We try and eat organic. This is expensive, but I do enjoy the challenge of making the fruit and veg boxes from Abel & Cole into tasty dishes. I largely drink green tea rather than black. I've got used to this. When I started, I flavoured this with ginger, manuka honey and lemon. Now I largely dont bother. I do try and eat as many tomatoes as possible, along with watercresss, tumeric, garlic, red fruit berrys etc. None of this is a hardship. I avoid sandwiches with butter and mayo.There isn't really anything I really hate in my diet or lifestyle. The pomegranite juice I drink, I've got used to. 

So I guess the answer is no. I probably feel better than I did three years ago. Anyway, I left the meeting feeling positive and reasonably happy with the outcome. This week I got the email from the multi disciplinary meeting. It says

Your case was discussed at the multidisciplinary meeing on 10th October 2013. Repeat biopsies show some low volume, low grade disease in the prostate. The plan is for us to continue active surveillence which will involve repeating biopsies in a years time. Next time we will carry out a template biopsy which is a more extensive biopsy of your prostate, carried out under general anaesthetic, and the needles pass into the prostate through the skin of the perinrum rather than going through the rectum. Enyoy!

Ok, I lied, I added the last word. It seems to me that this whole business in some ways is designed to fill me with dread, fear and horror. Now I know I have something to really look forward to as the summer dies in 2014. It used to be the start of the new football season. Now it's my annual biopsy. I'd sort of just got my head around the last form of biopsy. They've found a new way to torture and torment me.

When I was at St Vincents Catholic Primary School, we were told that when you died, before you went o heaven, you went to purgatory. This is like "hell light" and you atone for your sins. You don't get the full on version of hell, but you get some "cleansing by way of painful temporal punishment" somehow, this reminds me of the version of cancer I seem to have. Whilst friends and family get the disease, dropping dead around me, I have this strange version where nothing much happens, no symptoms present themselves but once every year or so I have to undergo some deeply unpleasant and disturbing procedures which tell me nothing is happening. Of course this is far better than the alternative, don't get me wrong. I just find the whole situation to be challenging.

Set a date for your diary, in about a years time I'll be able to tell you just how much fun this new type of biopsy really is. If anyone has had one, please either leave a comment or send me an email. I am intrigued to know if it is a more or less pleasant experience. That is the one thing they never tell you.

Finally a few people have asked me if I'm growing a Mo for Movember as this is for prostate cancer. I can't say that a tash is something I've ever wanted. I guess if enough people try and make me feel guilty I may

No comments: