Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Fighting Prostate Cancer – Part 1

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Click image for the Index of Greg's Prostate Cancer Chronicles

Click image for the Index of all Greg’s Prostate Cancer Chronicles

I have survived a Stage D Prostate Cancer (Terminal) with a Gleeson Score of 9 (very aggressive) with bone mestastices throughout my skeleton (bone cancer).  Upon diagnosis, I was advised that there was no point in operations, chemotherapy or radiation as the cancer was too far gone.  I was deemed to be palliative.

So, eighteen months later, why should I be in remission?

Having discounted the options above, I submitted to Hormone Therapy having a three monthly, slow release implant targeting the production of testosterone. These implants produce chemical castration with the loss of libido, withdrawal of the testes and feminisation of the body. They effectively reduce/stop the production of testosterone upon which Prostate Cancer cells feed.

There is another option – castration which is often used.

This treatment typically controls the growth of the cancer for around two and a half years in 85% of patients, when it becomes no longer effective. When that happens, there is only chemotherapy or radiation when the final decline begins.

So what makes me atypical?

In my experience of others with prostate cancer (father, grandfather and father-in-law, etc) there was an eerie silence about their conditions with no thoughts of remission.   In my fathers case, cancer was such a boogie that he could not mouth the word – he referred to it as the “Belly Dancer” whilst others referred to “the big C”.

I find a similar attitude amongst my contemporaries. Few of them question their doctors or investigate alternate therapies. They seem to be satisfied with, “My doctor says …”.  The problem I find with this is that it is rare for two doctors to have the same opinion about their patient’s prostate cancer.   In practice, there are no Prostate Cancer specialists.  Your doctor refers you to a Urologist where prostate cancer is only one of the complaints s/he deals with and when they can do no more, you are referred to an Oncologist who only wants to submit you to chemotherapy and/or radiation.

This happened to a neighbour of mine.   He asked the Oncologist what chemotherapy would achieve and was told, “I can’t tell you – everyone is different”.  Basic Google research (verified by my Urologist) will show that, with prostate cancer, chemotherapy or radiation will not add one extra day to the patients lifespan.

Lack of communication between doctors and patients is undoubtedly the greatest hurdle that cancer patients face.  Doctors are frightened to tell you anything unless you ask the specific question.  Patients are too inexperienced with cancer to know what questions to ask.

In my case, I believe remission is due to my questioning mind and being open about discussing my situation on this Blog.  Confronted head on with my mortality at diagnosis, I avoided denial and went to work on seeking out alternate therapies which I will discuss more with you.


Written by Greg Naylor

24 November 2009 at 12:00 am

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