I think I was getting ill over one year ago. I was having a lot of pain and fatigue. Of course, I am old. I have arthritis. Right? The fatigue could be explained by working full time at the age of 69. I have been through 9 years of medical board probation; this was exhausting, but over.
I knew something was wrong and sometimes, especially when I could not eat a bite of food. I knew I should see a doctor, but who to see? Maybe I will just get better.
I tried eating as well as I could, but truly I could only eat rice and pasta with a little - ok a lot of catsup. My friends and family saw what was happening, but I was losing weight and I looked better - if not very pale. I would get short of breath walking 20 yards.
So, ultimately, I chose to see my GI doctor in Santa Monica. I only have vague memories of what happened next, but I awoke in the Emergency Room with blood running into my arm. I had just had a scan, which I have no recollection of, and my friends and family had doom and gloom on their faces. I didn’t think of what might be wrong - and I am the bigshot doctor. :)
They told me I had prostate cancer. They told me my PSA was the highest anyone had ever seen, and my scans showed that I had a large pelvic mass pressing on my bladder and the cancer had spread to nearly all of my pelvic bones, spine, hips, left kidney and right arm. As I awoke and some of my new reality was sinking in. My blood count was as low as my PSA was elevated and I required multiple units of blood.
My PSA values? It was just about 6000. It takes a long-time ignoring my health to get that much Prostate Cancer into my pelvis and bones.
I immediately started on cannabis therapy (See blog) as well as starting two Testosterone blockers. Within one week, all my pain was gone, and my PSA had dropped from 6000 to 500. A week later it dropped to 50 and for the past several months, my PSA has been under 1. So, now I am blessed to be in remission. A urologist wanted to do a biopsy, but there was no tumor to biopsy. Too bad. :)
For the first two months, when I awoke at night I went through the same process in my mind. I thought, crap, I have cancer, then I would think it was a dream and then I fully awoke with a start when I realized I might be seriously screwed. It was very, very depressing and for a couple of months, I could never get back to sleep.
For the first three months, I felt much, much better physically, but emotionally I was quite labile. I would have “high moments” when I would forget what was happening to my body. I had serious lows when I would feel my right arm and realize that there was CANCER IN MY ARM that was obviously causing my shoulder discomfort.
Looking back, I realize I have been very lucky. I am in remission and only require monthly injections and some pills every day. I continue to take my cannabis capsules and do believe it has worked well with the hormonal therapy.
Cannabis also helps with the roller coaster of emotions that come with being a prostate cancer patient. When this all started, I was obsessed with the changes in my life. I was scared every time I would go in to get a lab. I can’t say how I would have reacted had I not done so well, but even with doing well, very well, I still think about it every day.
Now other questions loom in my mind: I wondered what type of female relationship can I have? I don’t even know what is up with that. Do I tell them in the beginning? What about being open about my newly founded sexual insecurity?
I learned that as loving as my family has always been, they were incredible. They WERE THERE FOR ME. I don’t know how I would have gone through all of this without my kids, sister, grandchildren and closest friends. There was one day I got overwhelmed by all the love and attention and barked at one of my kids. Of course, I apologized the next day.
All people with cancer have mood changes. You can be very happy after some great report. You are beating it and it all looks great. You walk out feeling strong, even invincible. Then some little test comes back that MIGHT be of concern; you are destroyed. So, emotions go up and down in ways we have never felt.
What to do?
So, to all you patients - be hopeful.
To all you doctors - give out hope - it is now covered by Medicare.
From Allan Frankel and your friends at Greenbridge Medical. Stay well. Stay home.