Nov 18, 2019 Latest post:
Feb 28, 2021
I have always considered myself a healthy person. Throughout my life I have exercised regularly and ate (mostly) healthful foods. Given my overall health, as well as genes that suggested longevity (3 out of 4 grandparents lived healthy lives into their late 90's), I expected to live a long, healthy life. That was, until October 23, 2019, when I learned that I have advanced prostate cancer that has spread to my lymph nodes and liver. About four weeks earlier, I took a blood test to check my PSA levels. My primary care physician ordered the test due to discomfort I had been experiencing urinating in the last two months. The results came back with a score of 56, which was well above "normal" (scores between 0 and 4 are considered normal, with values between 4 and 10 indicating possible cancer). Shortly after the blood test, I saw a urologist and had a biopsy on my prostate to confirm that I had cancer. The news was quite a shock. I had thought my prostate was enlarged and simply an age-related problem. I then had a bone and CT scan to determine if the cancer had spread (if the cancer had remained "localized" in the prostate, the prognosis would be positive in that the cancer was likely curable). The bone scan came back negative (the first good news I had in awhile). Unfortunately, a few days later, the CT scan showed that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and liver. When my urologist informed me of the diagnosis, my body went numb and I nearly fell off the exam table. I was not prepared to hear that I had stage 4 cancer. The only thing I could think about was that I would not be there to raise my two girls, Madeline and Elianna, with my beautiful wife, Amanda.
Fortunately, I am married to not only a beautiful, but a strong and intelligent woman who is a fighter and first-rate problem solver. Upon learning of my diagnosis, Amanda scheduled consultation appointments at the best cancer research and treatment centers in the nation - Dana-Farber and Memorial Sloan-Kettering so that we could find the most effective options to fight the cancer. After meeting with the oncologists at both treatment facilities, we learned that (1) my prostate cancer is a rare form that is aggressive and not curable; (2) it must be treated like a chronic disease, one that we will fend off for as long as possible; (3) it is possible to extend my life for many years using the standard protocol of hormone treatment, chemotherapy, and other drugs that prevent the cancer from growing, presuming the cancer responds to the treatment; and (4) there are many other drugs currently being developed that may help in the future when the standard protocol fails. We also learned that it is highly unusual for the cancer to spread to the liver, and not be found in other parts of the body (besides the lymph nodes). As a result, I had a biopsy on my liver on November 11th to help inform the treatment plan.
The treatment plan proposed to me is aggressive and I welcome the opportunity to fight using this multi-modal plan that will include hormone therapy and chemo therapy, followed by a new generation hormone treatment. I started hormone therapy with bicalutamide on October 24th and received a Lupron shot on Halloween; I will begin chemotherapy in mid-November. Prostate cancer feeds on testosterone so the expectation is that the hormone therapy, which prevents my body from producing testosterone, will eliminate the cancer's food supply. Without the food supply, the tumors should shrink and go dormant (until the cancer mutates and learns to grow without testosterone). The chemotherapy is intended to attack the tumors, further shrinking them, buying me more time to spend with my family and friends. It is an aggressive plan, but one I can handle given my age and otherwise healthy body.
The title of my Caring Bridge page is "Yellow Car," which is inspired by Amanda's positive outlook on life. Unless you live in a city where cabs abound, a yellow car is a rare sighting; that is, until you start thinking about them. Once you start looking for yellow cars, you begin to see them everywhere. In fact, this is true for most things in that your perspective influences how you see the world. You tend to see the things that you are looking for. So if you choose to see beautiful things, you will begin to see them everywhere. If you choose to see the things you are most grateful for, you will begin to see them everywhere. And if you start looking for yellow cars, you will spot them everywhere. Yellow cars for me represent hope and the little things in life that make it wonderful. As I begin to comprehend the diagnosis of my cancer, I choose to spot the good things in my life. I am keeping my eyes open for the little things that bring me great joy - the yellow cars! And each time I see one, I will pay careful attention and relish in the little sparks of immeasurable joy. So far, I noticed that car rides to school are amazing with my girls playing games, singing and sharing their stories with me. I noticed that I love the choices I made and the life I am living. And I noticed my favorite time of day is reading Harry Potter to my girls while we cuddle in our pajamas each night on the couch.
The purpose of this blog is twofold. First, I want to inform family and friends about my treatment and health. Second, even though having cancer is awful and has undeniably changed my life, I will not let it negatively influence my appreciation for the love and beauty I see everyday. I am still grateful for many of the things in my life and I want to share with you those "yellow cars." I have had a very fortunate life thanks to loving and supportive family, friends, mentors, coaches, and teachers. I will not let cancer define the end of my life, but instead it will be something I will manage as I continue to love and appreciate life's yellow cars.