Wednesday 24 May 2023

"Your biopsy results show....." Rog T's Cancer Blog

 One piece of advice I will give before I start. Whenever you have a biopsy for cancer, try and make sure you have someone around who can support you if the news isn't good. There is literally nothing worse than feeling isolated and alone in the face of bad news. That is the biggest lesson I've learned on this journey. 

So to recap. On Friday the 12th May, I had a prostate biopsy, following a worrying MRI scan in March. At 11am today, I was scheduled to receive the results. I have been expecting bad news. The MRI scan and the PSA test result told me that things were very unlikely to be good. Last night, I was feeling very anxious. I dealt with this by drinking a couple of bottles of wine. Sensible? Maybe not, but I simply didn't want to spend the evening soberly reflecting on what may happen. I had hoped to arrange a band rehearsal, but sadly the guys were unavailable. There was no football on the TV and I really wasn't overly interested in any of the programs, so I listened to Country Joe and The Fish and drank some plonk. 

When I got up, I had some porridge, dropped my daughter off for walk, took the dogs to Mill Hill Park and enjoyed the sunshine. It was wonderful. All I could think was "It's a fine day for a hanging"

I got back, made a cup of tea, got the papers and awaited the news. As ever, the call was fifteen minutes late. The samples had been analysed. There were two areas of concern. In one area, the Gleason score was 7 (4+3) and in the other it was 8 (4+4). The scores mean the following

I have to be honest, this was worse than I expected. I assumed that there may be a couple of areas of 4+3, but the 4+4 was a shock. So we then discussed treatment options. The first thing is to have a PET scan to ascertain whether the cancer has spread outside of the Prostate. If it has, then the options are not quite so good. Given the location and state, this looks unlikely and I was advised this was precautionary, but then that was what I was told when I had my first PSA test. 

Assuming the PET scan is OK, the options are as follows. I will have the choice of a radical prostate removal or hormone therapy followed by radiation therapy. Doctors from each team will speak to me in the coming days and weeks. I am likely to commence treatment in the next 1/2 months.  That is where I stand.

This journey has had some ups and downs. This is the worst day so far. I cannot pretend that I am anything other than devastated. Right now, all I really want is my own company. Being positive, it is extremely likely that the cancer can be completely removed and dealt with. I am likely to have a whole range of unpleasant side effects, but I will not die. Life will most likely change and not for the better. But I have not been given a terminal diagnosis. The cancer is unlikely to have spread and I do have options. It is still more likely that I will die with it rather than from it. My early diagnosis has not spared me anxiety, but it has, most likely, ensured that it won't limit my lifespan. 

Right now, I need to process this news. In the bigger scheme of things, I am OK. Today is a bad day, but tomorrow I'll have got my head around it. If you see me today, talk about the weather, the football, anything but this. Tomorrow is a different day. 

I make this promise to you, dear reader and myself. Whatever happens, I will enjoy life, tomorrow my head will be in the right place. Just not today. Today is a day that I could do without. Now please leave me alone with my thoughts. 


--- About this feature
For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, there's what this is all about. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested.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 60 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 gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I was put 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, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0,  February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  and my latest in August 2015 was down again at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer). On 22nd Jan 2016 I had HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). My post procedure PSA in May was 4.0 which was down, followed by 3.7 in August, and 3.5 in October  which means that the direction is positive . However in January the follow up MRI revealed "something unusual which requires investigation" After a follow up biopsy, it appeared this was nothing to worry about. My two most recent PSA tests were Ok (3.7 and 4.6) and an MRI scan in March was very positive. A  PSA in October 2019 was 4.6, so stable and good news, the last in May 2020 was 5.45 a small rise, so worrying, however after a review against the most recent MRI, it was decided that this was fine. My two latest ones in February 2022 was 6.7 and October 2022 was 6.6 was stable. My MRI in March 2022 showed 'a change' so I am now awaiting a biopsy. I had a PSA test in late March which also showed a marked increase to 10.3.
 I've no symptoms apart from needing to wee quite regularly and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

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