Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Prostate cancer is no big deal??

So Charley has CANCER.  What else can go wrong?

I should probably explain that this has all happened very fast.  

Charley got hepatitis in boot camp almost 40 years ago.  We've always been grateful that was ALL he got since they housed them in a barracks where several men died of meningitis and one of his friends subsequently died of that, too!  But hepatitis is managable.  It apparently lives on forever in the system and we get his liver checked every so often and his doctor worries about him.  We're not sure exactly WHY his doctor worries about him so much.  Once he came into the exam room and announced cheerfully to Charley that his brain tumor was benign!  When Charley told him that he wasn't aware that he HAD a tumor, the doctor looked embarrassed and left the room.  Only to return with a different chart!

But the hepatitis is real.  So the worried doc sent him to a liver specialist and a urologist this year.  Charley procrastinated because he doesn't take this doc very seriously (who would?).  But the urologist felt a lump in his prostate and wanted it checked out.  "It's probably nothing".  The urologist is a very cheerful chap.

So last week, Tuesday I think, we went together to get the biopsy and see the liver guy.  I went along partly because I was scared and partly because I didn't know if Charley would be able to drive home after a prostate biopsy!  The urologist said everything "looked great" but he would call by the end of the week with the lab results.  I thought that was kind of funny.  I think Charley's butt looks great, too.  But I've never has as close a look at it as the urologist...  So it's nice to have my opinion confirmed.  

The liver doc said that he couldn't figure out why we were in his office.  Charley's hepatitis has been dormant for around 40 years and it looks like all that is needed is a blood test every year and possibly an ultra sound to be sure that it is still dormant.  His regular doc can do that.  It doesn't look like his regular doc DID do that, so they took some blood and told us to go home and not worry.  The only caution is that he shouldn't take immuno-suppressants or cortisone or steroids because those would stimulate the hepatitis.  "So," he said several times, "You're okay unless you get cancer or something."  (Ominous music in the background)

So we went home feeling pretty good.  Then the cheerful urologist called us back Wednesday evening and said, "It's cancer.  But don't worry.  We'll take care of it.  Everything will be ok.  Can you come in tomorrow at 4?"
So the cancer, like the hepatitis, is fairly benign.  We could just go another 20 years or so before it really becomes a problem.  In fact, if he were 80 or so, they'd recommend just watching it.  They could leave it where it is and he'd most likely die of something else before the cancer grew enough to be a problem.  However, he is quite young to have this develop and it is still very localized - only about 10% of the tissue samples were cancerous.  So they recommend just removing the prostate and having that be the end of it.  He likes that idea.  I think having dormant cancer on top of dormant hepatitis is just one too many swords of Damocles hanging, you know?

So he's going to have the surgery sometime in mid-December.  That way he can stay home three weeks (Christmas vacation) without inconveniencing the school too much.  They are being audited again this year and the pressure on his department is pretty brutal.

He's seriously considering how the cancer impacts his retirement plans so, after the audit and after the surgery, he's going to look into that.  We're both eager to retire and move to Portland to be near our niece Heidi and hubby Noah.  Oh yeah! and our son Ben and DIL Cher and grandkids Tasha and Tahreq and Zora.  Not to mention other relatives in Seattle, WA and Santa Clara and Salinas, CA.  Portland is even closer to Denver, I think.  But we are not sure how soon we can afford it. 

They told him that the best way to prepare for and recover from surgery is playing his sax and clarinet.  So he's looking forward to that.

What I'm considering is how recovery from surgery is going to impact ME!  I get to spend my Christmas this year making soft foods and changing diapers for the two men in my life! 

Time to recovery so the he can go back to work: 3 - 6 weeks.  Full recovery of urinary functions (not to mention other intimate concerns) can take as long as 3 years!  There's even a remote chance he won't recover fully.  But he's having this robot surgery and the recovery rates are much better with that.  

Everyone says "Oh prostate cancer. No bid deal."  I'm thinking that it's no big deal to those who haven't HAD it!

On the Sam front, we have mostly given up on taking him to school.  The lung doctor has said that it is important for him to sleep when he feels like it and he has felt like sleeping from 4 am to 11 am his entire life.  So I've stopped trying to get him on a normal human schedule.  This means that we are going to another church now, it has a Saturday 5 pm mass and a Spred group.  And it means he mostly doesn't make it to school.  Maybe one day a month or so.  But even then it's mostly for about 2 hours.  On the other hand, his blood levels have remained fairly stable for the last 18 months.  This is due, according to the doctor, entirely to our care and letting him sleep is a major factor in that.

So now you know the news from what Dad used to call "The Hell Hole", Chicago.

No comments:

Post a Comment