The taste of saline was strong, stronger than I remembered. It had been awhile. The tears themselves started from laughter and evolved to tears of sorrow.
Mary and I watch "Marley & Me" last night here in Houston. I won't talk much about the movie so as not to spoil it for those of you who may not have seen it yet, however, it was a great movie. It won't win any awards mind you, but for those of us with dogs, and Labradors to be specific, the reality is spot on. As the movie evolved on the screen the tears of laughter turned to tears of sorrow. It was not just about the fate of the dog, but the thoughts of death itself.
It all hit too close to home for me.
It was the culmination of the day's events, and the fact that it is Holy Week.
Yesterday we spent the day at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. Through a few contacts we were able to secure an appointment with the Chair of the Genitourological department, who I will refer to as Dr. L. More on him later, but in a nut shell, what an incredible doctor, man, care giver.
After checking in at 10:00am and going through the paper work process we headed to the lab so the vampires could extract seven vials of my blood. The lab area was a stark shot of reality; packed with cancer patients in various stages of treatement. From wide eyed newly diagnosed patients to those poor souls that chemo has obviously ravaged. Silent Hail Marys streamed through my concious thoughts as we waited.
After the finishing up at the lab, we ate lunchand then returned to the seventh floor to wait for our 1:00pm appointment with Dr. L. As is typically the case, we did not follow the planned schedule... we actually met with the doctor at 2:15pm. The wait was a much different experience. Much of the time was spent completing a lengthy review and clarification of my status, x-rays and scans with his nurse practitioner, so the hour flew by.
Our time with the doctor was approximately thirty minutes, no more. The thirty minutes were, for the lack of a better term, incredible. After four years, we think we know a lot about prostate cancer, but we learned more in that thirty minutes than most of the last four years combined. In this case it was specific to me, but it really opened, or re-opened my eyes to my current status.
Since I've rambled quite a bit, here is the bottom line - his recommendation? Do 'nothing' for now. On the one hand, this is fantastic, on the other, as someone with a demon called cancer living inside him, doing 'nothing' is one hard pill to swallow. After listening to and letting his recommedation sink in, it really makes sense. The highlights are this; the bone tumors are 'attached' to the bone, not attacking or destroying from within the bone. Two, chemo is still working, we need to allow it to complete it's full course before we jump into the next treatment. The doctor advised us to approach our treatment strategy as one would any chronic illness. To fully consider my symptoms and current condition when making treatment decisions and making sure we reap the full benefits of each treatment. He was quite complementary regarding how we and our doctors have managed my case to date. So we return to Kansas City with orders to watch a few new blood markers because given my condition, the PSA level should not be the exclusive marker to track the activity of the cancer cells. Details of the new markers will be shared in a future blog.
The doctor also provided a lot of hope for the future. There a number of drugs in clinical trials that are or may become available when I may need them in the months and years ahead. It is the current research and clinical trials that reinforces our hope.
Our experience with MD Anderson this time was so different than in 2005. 180 degrees different and in a wonderful way. The compassion, and strategic approach that the staff shared with us was exceptional. Primarily, we credit this experience to Dr. L and his staff. The other factor is that Mary and I have matured in our knowledge and approach to managing this beast called prostate cancer.