Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wish Me Luck

I don't know what time of day it was. You don't really remember those kinds of things once a little time has passed. I do remember her voice — in person quiet and gentle, on the phone tenuous and uncertain. We were on the phone.

Mr. Hasan, she said, your PSA results are in. She paused. 0.26 — do you know what that means?

I suppose I did, or at least I should have, but when you're on the receiving end of health care you sometimes drop the details in order to grok the rest. I was quiet for a moment and then said, No, I don't think I do.

So she explained how after a prostatectomy the test should be undetectable, as it had been the previous two visits. She explained that 0.26 is not undetectable and that I needed to make an appointment with my oncologist and come back in six weeks.

Your cancer has returned. Come back in six weeks.

That was eight weeks ago. They immediately took me off testosterone, which means I'm having hot flashes again. And then we went to Big Bend, where the weather was cool enough and the hikes strenuous enough that I barely noticed the hot flashes and we all got a welcome distraction.

At six weeks, my PSA was once again undetectable due to the testosterone cutoff. That's good news. On the other hand, they reread the post-op pathology slides and came up with a different result: evidence of local involvement. That's bad news.

Two weeks has elapsed since then: back and forth with the doctors, uncertainty over treatment and much stress for those around me. Cancer is very hard on people you love. Ironically, I feel better than I have for years, except I got a cramp in my leg while running and am hobbling around looking more pathetic than I ought.

So what do we do? Radiation soon. Probably chemotherapy later.

Here we go again. Wish me luck.

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