Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace
We are all at it’s Mercy?
A cancer diagnosis is a powerful catalyst for change. Imposed change and controlled change. Positive and negative. I was diagnosed Christmas Eve 2015
No you weren’t?
If you have read some of my previous posts, you will know that it was actually the day before, the 23rd December 2015. Christmas Eve sounds so much more romantic, dramatic? Anyway, this is my soap opera. Suck it up.
December 2015 (age 56) – Several major life changing events were about to take place
Cancer diagnosis. The day my clock started ticking, louder than ever.
Between 23 December and now (7th February 2021) so much more has happened. Important events have come quickly, thick and fast, again and again and others not quickly enough.
Time. When considering cancer you might be familiar with terms such as ‘early diagnosis’ ‘catching it early’ ‘the earlier the better’? ‘Prognosis, the future – is all about how quickly you diagnose and start treatment’. Time. Life is a ticking clock.
2016 was pre-production or at best the pilot episode of this soap opera
The full series didn’t really start until the year after
2017 was the big one – A huge year in the John Reynolds cancer soap opera
Time. Fight. Time. Give it everything you’ve got. Beat this fucker
Much of 2016 was initially focused upon completing a speedy, thorough, forensic diagnosis leading, as quickly as possible, to, as early as possible. treatment (or not).
January – Further examinations confirm my GP’s pre-Christmas diagnosis. A biopsy confirmation, the conclusion….think, imagine the little baby metal teethed, fucker from the classic film, Alien? That, shoved up my arse, takes 22 ‘bites’, from every area and angle of my poisoned prostate gland. That.
All samples, are taken whilst awake, looking into the eyes of a teenaged (goddess) nurse, holding my hand and doing her upmost to distract me, by talking about where she ‘goes out’ in ‘town’ (Liverpool) when not working.
A 30 minute procedure that felt longer! Expertly performed by a high-skilled urology consultant, Dr Ham, assisted by the wicked Alien and officiated by, goddess nurse, Pamela Anderson. Real name; etched into my soul forever, never ever to be disclosed.
Prior to 2015 I had lived 56 years without experiencing a single finger or anything else for that matter, up my arse. By the end of March 2017 I had experienced, at the very least ‘a good football teams worth’, of animate and inanimate objects in my unfamiliar orifice. A trend that quickly became a norm.
life changing events
Between 2015 and the end of 2017 I underwent major surgery, with a couple of stays in hospital (total 5 weeks, not just cancer related) and I completely remodelled my work situation. Strange Things Afoot at The Circle K.
After a confirmed cancer diagnosis, Gleason 7 (4-3), adenocarcinoma pT3a (if you know you know)? The following months January – to mid March were an intense roller-coaster of decision taking and researching a treatment plan. In reality there are only three main options (with sub-options). Surgery. Radiography & Do Fuckall. There is a possible fourth – ‘magic & witchcraft’ better known as Alternative Therapies.
The devil is as always in the detail. There is so much detail
I will dedicate at least an other, post to discussing ‘the detail‘ and ‘the Devil’
Information overload. Experts. My own research. I didn’t know another prostate cancer patient to ask for advice. Time. The clock’s ticking.
I was advised – ‘we are still approaching this with the view to a cure’. Positive words. Hope.
If you don’t know? Prostate cancer is the most prevalent, male cancer currently known to man. In the UK, every 45 minutes, a man dies from prostate cancer. One in four men in the UK will contract prostate cancer. Many men will die, (at an ‘old’ age) not even knowing they have or had prostate cancer. The symptoms are often confused with other conditions even, just old(er) age. Thus, symptoms, critical early warning signs are often ignored. This is not exclusive to the UK, it is the same around the globe.
If prostate cancer is contained within the prostate gland then the likelihood of a positive prognosis is high. Remove the cancer (the prostate gland) and cured.
It is a completely different picture if the cancer has ‘advanced’ outside of the prostate gland. With Advanced or Metastatic ‘metastasised’ prostate cancer, there is currently no cure.
Advanced Prostate Cancer is currently incurable. That does not automatically mean death. It means that it cannot be cured. Hence, it is critical that prostate cancer (any cancer?) is diagnosed accurately and treated as early as possible. If so, in the majority of cases it can be cured.
They don’t really know until they know?
In the early stages of prostate cancer only a biopsy will fully confirm the scale and scope of cancer within the prostate gland. If cancer has spread, advanced outside of the gland this usually occurs via the bodies, complex lymph node system. The bodies super highway.
Cancer spread might occur close to the focal point, for example in the nearby pelvis area, the pelvic bed, where the prostate lives. This is why some prostate treatments involve not just treatment of the prostate gland but also the surrounding areas.
Once metastasis occurs, microscopic particles of poison scatter about the body. At this stage so small, they are impossible to locate even using the most sophisticated of scanning, technology. You can’t treat what you cannot find? You can but that in-itself can become part of the problem? Where do you start and where do you stop?
A Life changing decision
‘We are (still) approaching this with the view to a cure’. Positive words. Hope.
After exploring all available treatment options (and others), for a period of two months I engaged with two ‘alternative’ treatments witchcraft & magic. I had discovered several ‘alternative’ cancer treatments. Good and Bad. Why not try? Nothing to lose? If it works it works, who gives a fuck why as long as it works?
All of the mainstream orthodox options also had good and bad points. There is no clear definitive solution. Every choice has it’s own difficult compromise(s). Remarkably, it is completely the individuals choice. Nobody tells you what treatment to choose.
I was decided on the surgical option before I started experimenting with alternative treatments. Surgery that if successful, would change my life. Offer a cure.
It would also change my life, for ever, in other ways. For me, it is still the best choice in terms of ‘cure’. I was gambling on the cancer being confined to the gland, no spread. Remove the poisonous little aberration to fuck out of me. No prostate gland. No cancer? Cure.
I already had a schedule, a confirmed date for a radical robotic proctectomy. Things are moving fast. There are YouTube videos of this incredible procedure. I was in good hands Mr Weston. A ‘leading’ expert in the field of robotic assisted butchery.
I had about 6-8 weeks wait. I engaged with two (of the most credible) alternative treatments….. in the hope of a miracle cure. Anything so that I could cancel the operation ……. and keep my manhood. The experimental treatments did have a positive effect. In a shortish period of time my PSA level dropped. Not significantly enough to change any minds.
Life Changing Moment – March 17th 2016 – St Patricks Day
The day I said goodbye to my cock
This time it’s true. I did have my surgery on a ‘genuine’ romantic date ‘Paddy’s Day’
A radical proctectomy, a 5-6 hour surgical procedure BY a fucking robot on ‘Paddys Day’, for fucks sake? What could possibly go wrong? I hoped my surgeon was not of ‘Irish’ blood, in a rush to leave work to celebrate. Please do a good job Mr Weston.
Prior to, I was shitting myself. I am not good with operations, anasetic (who is)? I had convinced myself (and the family) I was not going to ‘wake up’. My mum had died during heart surgery (aged 46), in this very same Hospital. It took longer than planned ….. a lot longer. Not sure why. Made no difference to me I was asleep. It must have been terrible for Gail and the kids. The procedure went well.
When I came around I was euphoric. I actually was, full of the most amazing (pain killing) drugs. I had survived the operation. I was cured? I came too surrounded by the people who love me and who I loved. Relief. Hope.
Perri (my daughter) had travelled from Australia for my operation and stayed for my (preliminary) aftercare. She did not trust me to do this myself. She would keep her eye on me and prevent me from damaging myself, due to (my) dogged impatience. Long-term, irreversible issues with the bladder and bowel will occur unless you closely follow a, frustrating rest & physio therapy regime. I am not good at doing as I am told. Rest 6-8 weeks. I was loved.
I (largely) did as I was told. Recovery was quicker than expected. My medical team (Perri) approved. I was back in work three weeks to the day after my operation – three weeks ahead of schedule. My work colleagues protected and looked after me. est of all they cared for me. Good people. It was amazing to be back doing my job. A massive boost.
Life Changing Moment
Around about the same time, I had my first (full), post surgery, consultation. The talented Mr Weston. Funny how they change from a Doctor to a Mister at some stage in their medical career? Once they achieve a certain status?
I was there to discover my post-operation biopsy/analysis results and to discuss next steps, follow up treatment. A radical proctectomy procedure includes the removal of a substantial amount of, potential, cancer contaminated tissue ‘just in case’. Not just the prostate gland itself. This includes a number of localised lymph nodes. In my case, 19 lymph nodes Everything removed is thoroughly analyse. Cure or no cure.
Unlike the first time, this time I was not alone. Thank fuck.
I heard the words
‘Of the 19 lymph nodes removed (and analysed), 18 are clear.’
I let this sink in? 18 clear? Not 19? He removed 19? Didn’t he?
Node 19 – positive margin and 11mm positive node 19? Fucking cancerous node 19. I swear I heard the Paul Hardcastle ’19’ vietnam song.
Post proctectomy there is an expectancy of 0.00 (zero) PSA. The evil cancer has been cut out. It has gone….zero cancer. My PSA was 0.053. Low. Very low, but not gone.
My cancer had advanced. My cancer has advanced. My cancer has advanced. Advanced. Cancer was discovered in node 19. Incurable. There are thousands of lymph nodes around the body. There might be cancer in any or all of them? I still have Cancer. No cure. I am going to die.
Gail (my wife) missed it? Gail heard ’18 lymph nodes clear’. Only 1 not. Denial.
Mr Weston, calm, unemotional continued, ‘I promise you’ (his words) that when the time comes, he would appropriate the most up-to-date resources, a super scanner, one of only three such in the UK (apparently)?, that (would track down the evil cancer that had escaped from my prostate) He left that bit out! .…. when that time came this would afford me the best available, (palliative) treatment. From cure to palliative.
We even set targets for the super scan? Numbers, a number, not 19. I was promised that when my PSA had reached the ‘lowest detectable level’ 0.2 I would receive a 68Ga-PSMA-PET/MRI scan which would provide the most accurate information available that would inform any further treatment. But when? Did I have a long way to go? How long?
When that time (PSA 0.2) did come (and go), the ‘promised’ super scan did not.
Thanks for reading.