Michael Landers

First post: Nov 21, 2019 Latest post: Dec 6, 2022
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Our story began in October 2018, with Michael experiencing intense back pain while on a work trip. He continued to experience pain after coming home. After 2 trips to urgent care with x-rays and numerous chiropractor visits, with no diagnosis or relief, we decided to go to a back specialist. The specialist speculated that the pain was due to a pinched nerve and ordered an MRI. It was when we came back to find out the results to that MRI that the doctor used the words “lesions’ and “metastatic.” He then gave us a card of a local oncologist and told us that there was nothing he could do. We have both had loved ones diagnosed with cancer. We were familiar with all of those words and knew that we would be facing a difficult battle.

        Over the next few months, so many things changed. Michael found it harder and harder to get around. He lost 30 pounds, mostly muscle in his legs. We saw the oncologist in December 2018, and he ordered numerous tests. He called us after Michael’s PSA came back and said the probable cause of the lesions was prostate cancer. Then came the bone biopsy to confirm, which is when we found out Michael was severely anemic. He received a blood transfusion before we left the hospital that day. The bone biopsy confirmed Michael’s diagnosis, Stage IV prostate cancer with metastases to bones. He began radiation treatment 2 days later on the 2 tumors that were pressing in on his spine. 10 treatments later, and his back pain was gone. He was able to sleep and walk easier.  He began Lupron injections in January, in order to starve the cancer cells, to be repeated every 3 months for as long as it worked.  His next course of treatment was 6 rounds of chemotherapy, starting in February. A brief list of problems he experienced at the beginning on treatment: nausea, anemia, uric acid build up, mood swings, hot flashes, hair loss, and affected sense of taste. 

        His cancer responded really well to the chemotherapy, to such an extent that his oncologist referred to Michael as his “star patient.” As the chemotherapy continued, Michael’s anemia improved since his bone marrow was able to recover. After the last chemotherapy treatment, we went on a family trip together to Boston in June to visit extended family. Michael enjoyed the time immensely, but at the end of walking each day, his legs would hurt and he would be exhausted. Massage and CBD balm helped the leg pain a lot, but he would sometimes need pain medicine as well.

        In July we also traveled to Houston for an appointment with another oncologist at MD Anderson. He felt that Michael’s local oncologist was doing everything correctly. Later in July, Mike’s back pain came back with a vengeance. We went to the ER because he was in such intense pain. The doctor gave him pain meds and ordered an MRI. The MRI just showed increased inflammation. When we had a follow up appointment with his oncologist, the doctor referred us to a palliative pain specialist. He had us chart Michael’s pain, and after a couple of weeks, he prescribed a medication for nerve pain (what he thinks is causing MIchael’s back pain) and an extended release pain medication. Both of those were very helpful, but also made it difficult for Michael to drive or work. He went on FMLA from his job in order to have time to rest and hopefully recover.

        In October, Michael’s PSA started rising dramatically. This indicated that the Lupron was no longer enough to keep the cancer from growing. We met with his local oncologist to discuss his options, and then made a trip to Houston to meet with his oncologist there as well. His doctor in Houston was shocked to see Michael using a cane to walk, since he hadn’t been using one in July, We found out that MIchael might be eligible for several clinical trials as well. He began testing for one of them.

        In November, Michael began taking Zytiga, a drug used to block any androgen hormones that the Lupron missed. After only 2 weeks on Zytiga, Michael’s PSA started to decrease. Unfortunately, the medication also has the side effects of causing fatigue and some digestive upset. 

        This is just to show you the progression and treatment of this disease so far. Our family has changed and grown closer in so many ways. The kids received counseling to understand their father’s illness from a wonderful program called Wonders and Worries. It helped them better understand what was going on. We met with a nutritionalist and adjusted our diets to best help Michael’s body fight the cancer. Our wonderful friends have stepped in and given the kids rides when Michael and I were busy at doctor’s appointments, helped with various chores around the house and errands that needed to be taken care of, and provided meals to give us a break from cooking as well as some much needed companionship.  Michael’s brother, David, flew down to be here for that first appointment, and his wife, Patti, flew down in November to help with projects around the house and went with us to another doctor’s appointment. We hope to continue to fight this illness together and appreciate all of the support and understanding that all of you provide.

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