Fighting Metastatic Prostate Cancer-Keep it Positive, and Smile!

by GregP_WN

Just by way of introduction, I’m Mike and I have metastatic Prostate cancer. My original diagnosis and surgery for prostate cancer was in 2005. It came back in August 2011. Metastatic prostate cancer is treated as a chronic disease, there’s no cure or remission for this diagnosis. Each treatment is designed to slow or “manage” the cancer.

Mike Photo

As I reflect on my journey, I feel that what has happened and what I have done are not nearly as interesting as the observations I’ve made along the way:

1. Time is very strange when you have cancer
a. Sometimes time flies and sometimes it drags.
i. My recurrence was August 2011. That’s about 27 months ago but it feels like 27 years ago. Time flies because so many what seem to me to be significant things and decisions have happened. I’m about to start the seventh different treatment as I write this.
ii. My last scans were 8 weeks ago and the last PSA was 4 weeks ago. It feels like 8 months like waiting for Christmas when I was a child. We live from assessment to assessment and they never seem to come quick enough.

b. Cancer seems to lock me into a calendar with a repeating cycle. Depending on the treatment schedule it seems that I live in 2, 3, or 4 week slices of time.
i. The cycle begins with a doctor’s appointment and tests. Results come back and things are rosy or maybe not, my mood goes up or down.
ii. Mid cycle the rosy or not so rosy picture has faded and I begin to anticipate the next visit. My rational mind is in control and the news rosy or not is much less important than the fact that the cancer is still here and we’re still “treating” it. So just how rosy or not was the news?
iii. As the end of the cycle approaches the anxiety builds. What will the numbers or scans say? Is the medication working? Is there another decision point coming?
c. I’ve found that recognizing the time warp I’m in helps me deal with my emotions and mood. I’m able to use my rational mind to understand the overall picture rather than the moment I find myself in. I also realize that with what we know today, regardless what the news of the moment says, I still have cancer and will stay in treatment.

2. My recurrence triggered many emotions like fear, anger and confusion. This was a very negative place to be. I didn’t want to live in this negative state and everyone said “you have to have a positive attitude to beat this”. At first, just the idea of fighting cancer was enough to get to positive. Unfortunately, with a chronic disease the news about the fight is not always conducive to maintaining a positive attitude. I looked for something more to give me the positive motivation. I found it very close to home. My son and grandsons (and many other men) became my positive motivation. I was well into a clinical trial when I found out that the researchers have some trouble recruiting patients to the clinical trials before the patients “have tried everything else” and are often into the last months of life. Since prostate cancer seems to “run” in my family, I decided that I would be the guy who would do any clinical trial that I could. By doing that I could contribute to the advance of the science and leave a very special legacy to my son and grandsons. While the trials are not necessarily a cake walk, one of them “bought” me about 7 months of stable scans and the research into that type of drug continues. Maybe they’ll find a way to avoid some of the side effects and it will become an approved treatment someday.

3. I found WhatNext and participating in the web site has created another positive in my cancer journey. It was amazing when I was advised to have a port put in. As many would do, I searched the web. The results were scary to say the least. There were lawsuits, and horror stories galore not a bit of good news. But when I asked the WhatNext community I got a totally different picture. People loved their ports even if there had been problems of one kind or another. Today, I too love my port even though I am no longer getting chemo, the blood draws are quick and easy and scans don’t require extra sticks for the contrast. I try to answer questions where I’ve “been there and done that” so others may have some idea of what to expect. I’ll also give a bit of opinion when I feel it’s warranted. I get a bit of a smile every time someone “likes” my posts. It definitely lifts my spirits. The website is another way to ”give back” and is an amazing way of being positive and realizing that I’m not alone.

Pinboard Mike Aiden Gavin Mearen

Mike with Grandchildren Via WhatNext Photo Pinboard

4. I’ve also learned that no two cancers even with the same name are really the same. Also no two cancer patients are the same. My reaction to chemo (taxotere) which was very good with almost no side effects does not translate to a good experience for anyone else. But my good experience does at least give others the hope that even if their side effects are more significant than mine, they may get some benefit from the treatment. It’s always a bit challenging to base your decisions on other’s experience, but we have little else to go on. Sometimes I’ve been disappointed when a treatment that has been successful for others doesn’t work for me. The lists of side effects to cancer drugs is nothing more nor less than what has been observed in others who took the drug and can be quite long. No one gets all the side effects so it’s at least good to know a few individuals’ experience when making decisions. You may get an inkling of what side effects go together.

5. I’ve learned that talking about my cancer seems to help me but if you don’t have it you just won’t get it. And I can’t make my life an all about cancer marathon. My friends and acquaintances just won’t like being near me. Cancer is very personal and the dialog is often very lonely. As we all react differently to things in life, so it is with cancer. My feelings go up and down. I look for information for my analytical mind to use. Sometimes all that information just makes things a bit worse as it is now. I can’t find a lot to make me feel great about the chemo I’ll be starting on December 26, but maybe the investigational drug will make a real positive difference. So I battle on and remembering that no two cancers are quite the same, I remain positive and I smile.

Mike's username at WhatNext is "MGM48" stop by his profile page and congratulate him on winning the fight so far and offer some encouragement to keep fighting. Mike is a positive force at WhatNext and always reminds everyone to "keep it positive, and smile", in all situations. If you would like to share your inspiring story with others that are on a cancer journey, please contact us to share it. Email greg@whatnext.com to get started. Register at WhatNext by starting HERE to fill out your own user profile page.

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