GREG'S LEGACY

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

Archive for the ‘DEATH’ Category

Cancer And The Domino Health Effects Of Treatment

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Cancer Ribbons

Cancer Ribbons

I have been mentally calculating an audit lately of the personal health effects as a result from my prostate cancer and its treatments. It has become apparent to me, that the results of this audit may make for an interesting article for some readers. What follows is not intended as a “Poor Me” sympathetic seeking diatribe, but rather as a personal example of the domino effect that a cancer diagnosis can have on the health of a patient. I am sure that many long-term cancer patients would also see themselves, and their journey in the same way. My intention in this article is to highlight this issue so that fellow cancer patients, recognise that they are not alone, and to advise new cancer patients of the pitfalls that may await them on their path.

Before I begin, I should point out that prior to the time of my cancer diagnosis, I thought I was a pretty fit soul. I visited and walked Kokoda in 2008 and 2009. I was an avid sailor, diver and fossicker up to my diagnosis, and my previous health apart from skin cancers had been marvellous. In July 2011 I was about to turn a fit and active 64 years of age in September, and I felt bullet proof…….Until late August.

My cancer adventure began in late August 2011 when I experienced urinary problems that lead to my visit to the GP, and then for a PSA test and ultrasound. The results showed a PSA of 4.5 and an enlarged prostate that led to a diagnosis of BPH. (benign prostatic hypoplasia) I was given a prescription for pills to alleviate the urinary pain, and a future date in six months to repeat the tests. I didn’t quite make the six month period as the symptoms became much worse in January and February of 2012. In early March I had my first visit to the urologist, whose examination led to a biopsy; With the results confirming advanced aggressive prostate cancer that threw me into a spin mentally.

I needed to make a choice of treatments available, and through some early research and medical advice decided on, Radiation and Androgen Deprivation Therapy as my primary treatments. I immediately received my first injection of the drug Eligard, that I was to receive every four months for the next two years, plus an oral anti androgen drug taken daily. On the other hand in order to begin my radiation treatments, I first had to attend to my urinary symptoms which involved a surgical procedure carried out in May called a TURP (rebore.) The TURP procedure alleviated the urinary restrictions, but also introduced a series of urinary tract infections that persisted until September 2012. Finally in October I was able to begin the radiation treatment.

So there I was at the end of 2012, having had to cease work with the following health audit results of:

  • Various urinary symptoms, including some incontinence, and infection causing increased frequency, pain, chills and fever.
  • Erectile dysfunction and loss of any sexual libido.
  • Hot and cold flushes, constant mental and physical fatigue.
  • Sleep disturbances and increasing joint stiffness and joint pain.

The following year 2013 found me dealing with the above side effects, and attending to all the medical visits to doctors for blood tests and scans. The year finished with the following health audit:

  • All of the previous years health issues.
  • A new diagnosis of Diabetes type II, which may or may not be attributed to the Androgen Deprivation Therapy but included diet modification and blood monitoring daily.
  • A diagnosis of osteopenia, which is a precursor to osteoporosis or thinning of bone density. This may or may not be attributed to the Androgen Deprivation Therapy.
  • Intermittent urinary bleeding had started late in the year.
  • An instance of mental depression led to mental breakdown with considerations of suicide. This led to several sessions with a counsellor.

Early in 2014 the urinary bleeding events began to worsen, and become more frequent. I had a cystoscopy examination that concluded I had radiation damage to the bladder. In May I began hyperbaric oxygen treatment to treat the radiation cystitis in Townsville General Hospital for two months. Unfortunately this treatment failed, when I was admitted as an emergency with urinary retention, twice during the hyperbaric treatment. The frequency of hospitalisations due to urinary blockages and bleeding increased throughout the year, including several medical procedures to attempt to solve the issue. Finally in November, surgery removed the remains of my prostate gland, lymph nodes and the bladder. Pathology confirmed active cancer cells and tumour were evident in the samples. These had been previously undetected by PSA monitoring. Pathology also confirmed the bladder tissue was quite neucrotic and fragmented. The health audit for 2014 brings us up to date with:

  • Most of the previous two years issues still current.
  • The ill-health and the effects from pain, and mental anguish from instances of urinary bleeding and blockages that required hospitalisations.
  • Uncontrolled urinary incontinence from time to time.
  • The immediate effects of the surgical procedures, and rehabilitation needed.
  • The care and maintenance of the stoma, that was surgically created to replace the bladder function.
Sometimes its the truth

Sometimes its the truth

Looking back over what I have presented here, seems to be pretty much just a summary of events that I have written about in other published articles. That may be the case, but I think it still represents a good example of cancer and the domino effect that cancer causes in a person’s life. When I think about the domino effect, I wonder just how accurate are the mortality rates given for cancer by the statisticians. Could it be that the cause of death in some instances, attributed to conditions other than cancer, be actually a bi-product of the cancer domino effect????? As an example, prior to my surgery in November 2014, I was critically ill with blood loss and urine retention. My doctor at the time, agrees that without surgical intervention I would have died from blood loss by Christmas 2014. If that had been the case, would my death have been registered in statistics as being from my prostate cancer, or from blood loss and urinary retention?????

 

Lee aka Popeye

 

Jack and Jill Cancer Tragedy

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Support From Friends and Family

Support From Friends and Family

The world of cancer can really kick you in the teeth at times, the trick is to be able to bounce back and move forward but sometimes it is more difficult to rise and come up smiling when it belts you below the belt. The following story is of events that have overtaken a married couple who are close friends of my wife and I. It took me some time to choose to publish these events as it is such an overwhelming personal ordeal they are dealing with. I wrestled with my thoughts on the moral justification in making their ordeal public and now I have done so in the hope others may be inspired by their story. In the following events I have used the names of Jack and Jill to protect their privacy and as I write I am still wondering at times if all this is not just a bad dream.

Jack and Jill are now in their late sixties. A few years ago Jill was diagnosed with bowel cancer and was at the time successfully treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. A short time after Jill’s cancer treatment Jacks brother was also diagnosed with bowel cancer and he was also treated successfully with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. With all the health and medical issues that had suddenly descended on them Jack and Jill decided to retire, buy a caravan and join the grey nomads touring Australia.

About the time they bought the van Jack fell off a trestle and broke his leg, down toward the ankle so the grand Australian tour departure was put on hold until his leg healed. Eventually they got underway but just a couple of thousand kilometers into their trip Jack and Jill found themselves stuck in Townsville as Jack had developed an infection in the bone where he had originally broken the leg. Townsville is where my wife and I met this pair and we became firm friends. Jacks infection was such that the leg was invaded by a medical steel structure from knee to ankle with rods descending into the leg at various places to deliver the antibiotics needed to the bone. Jack also was treated in the hyperbaric chamber for two months to try to assist the healing. Jack endured nearly twelve months of treatments to try to beat the bone infection without success.

Late last year the medical specialists and Jack started discussing amputation of the leg as the final solution and while these discussions were going on Jack had a colonoscopy which led to biopsies and he was then also diagnosed with bowel cancer. Now Jack and the surgeons had two problems to deal with and a decision was made to have both the amputation of the leg plus the bowel resection done at the same time (a 12 hour operation.) Both of these procedures were completed early in March and Jack is doing OK. He faces a lengthy rehabilitation period for his leg and prosthesis followed by perhaps radiation and extensive chemotherapy for the cancer.

The cruncher to all this came to a head recently when Jill revealed that she had been re-diagnosed with the return of her bowel cancer which had now spread extensively to her liver. The doctors informed her it was incurable and terminal, she could only expect her time left to be between 12 and 14 months. Now Jill had been informed of this some time ago but decided to keep it to herself until Jack had gone through his ordeal. That last sentence says more about the love and respect that one human can hold for a loved one than any explanation I could give. They have offered Jill some strong chemotherapy, not as a cure but to help prolong life long enough for both of them to return to their home once Jack is stabilised. I shake my head with despair for my friends and wonder how these sort of events can overtake good peoples lives.

With Love from Friends

With Love from Friends

I offer the following verse I composed for them and anyone else out there who might find some comfort in these words. It was inspired by the words of Gordon Lightfoots haunting ballad called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” The lead line has haunted me for years “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours ?” Somehow the haunting returned and I built on it in my own words as the timing seemed just right for my friends.

Does Anyone Know Where The Love of God Goes?

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when a cancer turns your time left to hours?

In the dark and despair only faith can repair, what the verdict of cancer has soured.

But his love is still there in the fond memories we share, with the love-ones we see that surround us.

Those moments are there when the laughter rang out and the hugs and the kisses were about us.

The hard times and fears, the regrets and the tears, have been dealt with and left far behind us.

So does anyone know where the love of God goes? Well I think the answers not hidden.

Seek deep in your soul among your memories there and give thanks to what he has given.

Lee aka Popeye

Radiation Treatment Damage and Blood in the Urine……….Another Update

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Where to go ???and What to do

Where to go ???and What to do

It seems nearly a lifetime ago that I put pen to paper and in some ways it has been a lifetime. In my previous posts I have set about describing a new cancer path that has appeared for me that is still evolving as I write. Radiation damage to my bladder and pelvic area has progressed at a remarkable rate and seems to have begun a life of its own. When I first went looking for information on this subject I discovered mainly technical references to this issue with very little personal information from a patients point of view available. Because of this I decided to concentrate my efforts to describe in a personal way the effects of this condition for other patients who may be heading in the same direction. I cannot offer statistics on the prevalence of severe radiation damage suffered by patients but my first hand experience allows me the opinion that the condition is a serious debilitating and life threatening experience for those afflicted. There appears to be no easy fix for the problem and no prognosis available as the issue evolves and grows in severity and patients move from procedure to procedure.

From where I now stand I view this condition as one that should be more seriously openly, considered, discussed and understood when choosing a primary treatment involving radiation treatment to the pelvic area. Complications for this condition, if it occurs will be hindered by the constraints of limited surgical procedures available and the unavailability of further radiation treatment post the initial treatment. Chronic radiation damage to the urinary tract or bladder can be a life threatening event no less than the cancer can be. The symptoms of bleeding, clot blockage and urinary retention leads to organ spasms and toxic shock with the whole body in seizure. This is only relieved by heavy pain killing injections and the insertion of a catheter. Even the catheter itself can clot off or slip and block the bladder neck causing the same symptoms ( I have experienced this multiple times over the past two months, including once when I expelled the catheter by the force of the spasms.) The following is a time line of my treatment and hospitalisations over the past few months.

The progress of blood in the urine to full-blown urine retention due to blood clots started slowly some twelve months ago and then rapidly accelerating to how it has been for me over the past few months. My treatment began in the hyperbaric chamber undergoing a 50 daily treatment plan. This eventually failed me when in June this year I was admitted twice to the Townsville hospital emergency department and hospitalised for a week on each visit. I then attended a recommended urologist who performed multiple procedures during August and September using a cystoscope applying a green light laser vaporisation and cauterisation of the friable blood vessels that had been damaged by the radiation treatment I received nearly two years ago. The largest procedure I had recently was another TURP where the remains of the prostate gland was completely vaporised and the remaining blood vessels cauterised.

In between these procedures I have been hospitalised in August in the Emerald general hospital and in September three admissions to the Mackay general hospital was followed recently by an emergency air flight to Townsville by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This last episode delivered me back to the urologist who performed some more diathermy to my bladder wall to stop the bleeding and clotting. In fact I am writing this article as I recuperate from this latest adventure in Townsville before travelling home to Mackay.

At a meeting with the Townsville oncologist last Friday, I learned that tissue samples the urologist sent to the pathology laboratory from my latest TURP has revealed active cancer cells still in the remains of the prostate bed. What this means is that the previous radiation treatment has failed and the cancer is still in situ. I ceased using ADT (Eligard) last March as my PSA had remained stable at 0.02 over the past two years. My oncologist has now suggested that I consider keeping a close watch on my PSA for any increase and doubling time with the view to restarting the ADT when this occurs.

Where the blazes do these end up

Where the blazes do these end up

As I write this I feel like I have been run over by a bus, dealing with the after effects of the procedures including some serious incontinence issues which I have not described within this article but they deserve an article some time in the future. The good news is, that for now the bleeding and passing of clots has finally stopped for the first time in months. I am not as concerned about the return of the cancer as I am about the possibility of further bleeds and urinary retention in the future. To undergo the uncontrolled body spasms, pain and despair associated with full-blown urinary retention is a major….. major……., major fear for me and I dread the next episode if there is more to come …………………….. and unfortunately there is no-one who can guarantee there will not be future episodes.

Lee aka Popeye

 

Cancer Fatigue Issues According to Me

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Chronic Fatigue Blues

Chronic Fatigue Blues

In this article I would like to offer some personal views regarding fatigue and cancer. I present this subject here as I believe it is a major issue for any cancer patient. Since my diagnosis in March 2012 (and in hindsight much earlier than then) I had been and still do, experience varying degrees of fatigue over varying periods of time. This personal experience gives me some understanding and experience to be able to discuss fatigue and cancer from my point of view and from other information available.

I bet that if the question was asked of cancer patients ……How do you rate the effects of fatigue on your quality of life???  The replies would almost be a unanimous 10, where 1 would be no effect and 10 the worse. This should not be surprising, as studies have demonstrated that fatigue is a significant issue long into cancer survivorship. Between 70% and 90% of cancer patients will experience cancer fatigue and in some cases prior to diagnosis, then throughout the treatment period and extending into months post treatment. More than 50% of cancer patients will continue to experience fatigue symptoms for many years post curative treatment.

So what is my cancer fatigue like.

Cancer fatigue is very different from the everyday tiredness experienced by most people. I think of cancer fatigue as exhaustion of the body and the mind that is not relieved by sleep or rest. It is caused by both the disease itself when cancer cells produce toxins and by treatments such as drugs, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and the like. As an example of cancer fatigue I will attempt to give a personal view of my experience with this side effect.

There is an old John Denver song I love that just about sums it all up with the lyrics….”Some days are diamonds….Some days are stones.”  My fatigue comes and goes with just a few warnings of its arrival and no advice as to how long it will stay on each visit. It tends to hang about for at least a day or two but has been known to settle in for a few weeks. Each fatigue event slowly subsides and there begins a period of recuperation from the effects, a bit like climbing out of a hole in the ground. Then sometimes the fatigue will return before you actually get out of the hole and you tumble back down.

I have discovered a few small warning signs that indicate my bad periods. The return of bad disturbed sleep, a weakness in the legs leading to an increasing difficulty climbing stairs or slopes. These always herald the return of cancer fatigue and back down the hole I go.

  • The weakness in the legs slowly spreads to hips, back and arms.
  • My IQ seems to dwindle as I become muddle-headed and forgetful. I find it an effort to even talk and when I do sometimes my speech is slurred.
  • I find I cannot multi-task, I have to concentrate and focus on one thing at a time.
  • I seem to make many mistakes when trying to organise or complete a set task.
  • The time it takes me to complete any task is multiplied by ten from normal .
  • I become clumsy and accident prone.
  • I can become breathless to the point it seems a real effort just to breath.
  • I keep my jacket handy as I can feel cold at odd times even though it is summer and I live in the tropics…….Very strange this one.
  • I can drop off to sleep at the drop of a hat at any time or any angle, doesn’t matter if I am in the car, sitting at the desk, in a shopping centre or entertaining visitors.
  • Everything seems such a huge effort with no relief.
  • Negative thoughts increase and I need to monitor these carefully.
How am I doing today chart

How am I doing today chart

So how do I or you manage this side effect of cancer fatigue

Management is the key word here and part of the answer, is to advise your medical team of the problems and symptoms you may have. Some of the tactics I advise are as follows but please remember I am not a doctor so you should seek medical advice:

  • I wrote a previous article promoting the regular use of citrus juice and pulp mixed with cold water that I use daily. The citrus juices I recommended were lemons and limes. I still hold the view that this has been extremely beneficial to me personally in keeping my energy levels up.
  • Doctors may be able to prescribe drugs to lessen fatigue issues when it is found they are related to a diagnosed causal effect of symptoms, or to lessen the effects of treatment drugs.
  • Stay as active as you can and follow some routine daily exercises such as walking.
  • Practice good nutrition and a balanced diet. Possibly work with a dietician to achieve this.
  • Ask for help in achieving routine chores if you need to.
  • Be flexible and set realistic goals.
  • Shift your focus from thinking about your fatigue, distract yourself and do something else eg listening to music.
  • Consider learning and practicing medication, yoga or tai chi.
A program shutdown

A program shutdown

“Some days are diamonds……Some days are stones……Some times the hard times won’t leave me alone.

Some times the cold wind, blows a chill through my bones……Some days are diamonds……Some days are stones”.

Lee aka Popeye

Further Reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer-related_fatigue

http://www.cancervic.org.au/about-cancer/types-treatments-trials/fatigue_and_cancer

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/coping-with-cancer/coping-physically/fatigue/what-is-cancer-fatigue

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/fatigue/fatigue-landing

http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=20944

Losing and Regaining The Plot Part II

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Sometimes this is difficult

Sometimes this is difficult

Recently I was in the process of drafting a different article than the one that now appears here. At that time I was head down working on that draft when I was suddenly interrupted by some Eureka thoughts in regard to my recent emotional meltdown. Answers  to the jig saw that confounded me in my original story on losing and regaining the plot came pushing through and I could not ignore them. So here is my self-analysis for those who may be interested. I make no apologies to readers on the “poor me” syndrome that has been displayed by me as I have tried to be up front and tell it as it is. I can only hope this whole episode may reach out offering some hope to some one else who may also be battling to keep on an even keel.

Before I begin I must insist on stating the following:

I have been blessed in contacting the Queensland Cancer Council counselling service.  I have found this free service of immense value in trying to make sense of an out of character response  and series of actions that overwhelmed me recently. I am indebted to them for their professional and yet personal attention that they have offered me and continue to do so. I would urge anyone in need, either cancer patients, their friends, family and carers who require emotional support and understanding to contact them for assistance.

In one word what happened to me was GRIEF. I was experiencing un-resolved grief followed by illogical anger that was the cause of my emotional boil-over and subsequent actions. Grief is not just an emotion reserved for those who have lost a loved one, but can also be for a loss of many important things in a persons life. To understand my particular piece or pieces of grief you will have to know a bit about my life.

My wife and I have spent the past forty years sharing a love affair of salt water and boats who sail on it. I have been an avid explorer and adventurer of anything to do with just mucking around with boats. I have also been proudly employed for twenty years in the marine industry in a position where I have had the privilege of assisting people in distress, preventing maritime environmental disasters and efficiently and safely assisting in operating  ports in Queensland. I have owned and operated many boats in my life, the last one for over twenty years.

In 2009 my wife and I decided to hand my yacht of twenty years over to my daughter and her husband as I felt I could no longer manage the maintenance on it on my own. I loved that old piece of old timber and fibreglass but age had caught up with me, and unknown to me at the time, prostate cancer was likely taking hold of me. So with the assistance of my wife,  daughter my eldest grandson and a good mate of mine we sailed the boat from Mackay to her new home in Cairns Queensland. My Daughter and her husband have spent most of their spare time since 2009 fixing and updating the boat for their own use.

I had the distinction of retiring from my maritime profession three times since 2007 the final time was when I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. My work place was continually short-staffed due to the lack of qualified operators so my first two retirements were short-lived. The last retirement appears however to be permanent.

Recently I was in Cairns for an extended stay which included a planned cruise in my old boat with my daughter, her husband and family. Also an old army friend and my eldest grandson were arriving to join us. Three weeks prior to the trip were spent by me assisting my son-in-law and my daughter do some much-needed maintenance on the boat.

It is here at this point, that the start of the groundwork had began for my un-resolved grief and subsequent problems. I found it most difficult to work on deck with my stiffness, loss of balance and little strength in my legs. While kneeling on deck doing small tasks I was unable to get to my feet without assistance. When my daughter and her husband had to call it quits and go back to work for a few days I offered to stay on board and continue working on my own. They flatly refused my offer without saying why and it took me only a few seconds to realise they were in the right in rejecting my offer. I had quickly figured it out that they had understood, that for safety reasons I should not be onboard on my own. Later I was to fully realise that I also did not have the balance or strength any more that was needed to operate some of the gear on board while sailing about.

We had our trip in perfect weather and had a wonderful trip. It felt marvellous for me being back out on the water visiting reefs and islands: A truly perfect trip…………..perhaps my last?? Who can say for sure?? After the trip I travelled with my wife and my grandson up to the tablelands behind Cairns and stayed with my wifes younger sister. While we were  there  we visited various cemeteries in the search for family history stuff. It was here that in my wanderings around the graves that I became a bit philosophical while reading the headstones. I remember thinking to myself of the futility of life and the inevitability of death for all of us. This line of thinking was also to play a big part in the mixing bowl of emotions that was about to erupt for me.

I had been away for nearly two months and out of my normal routine. I had been off my new medications because of my upset schedules. I had touched base with a part of my life that used to be such a huge satisfying pastime for so many years. I had wandered and pondered through peoples identities who now lay in various fields scattered throughout the Atherton Tablelands.

I began to grieve without realising what was happening to me. I was grieving for the loss of the man I used to be. I was grieving for the loss of the promise of more fine weather sailing, the exploring and adventuring that still lay out there to be discovered. I was grieving for the loss of my occupation, the satisfaction and feeling of self-worth I received by giving it my best shot.  I grieved for the perceived futility of life in general and for all the people and their loved ones who inhabit hillsides all over the world.

My grief lay hidden inside of me unable to be expressed until I turned it into anger. Flight or flight is the accepted perceived action of a person who is stressed. Well I believe I did both on that night. I used the small disagreement with my wife as the excuse to take flight and the thoughts of suicide I had during that flight was an expression of anger. The anger was not directed toward my wife but rather to the cancer and what it had done to me. I believe my rationalisation for trying to find the courage to drive my car into a tree that night was my fight response. Doing so would have cheated the disease of further degradation of my health. After all, had not the graves on the hillsides convinced me at the time, that life was futile and death was inevitable in any case.

Thinking now in a realistic way, I can see that there are many causes that could have an impact on a person. Life is a bit of a raffle not knowing what may lie around the corner that can change a persons circumstances forever. My good fortune has been to survive long enough to have enjoyed the things that have been important to me throughout my life. Death, accidents, other chronic illnesses and any of the thousands of poor decisions I made along the way could have affected the outcome for me. I have been extremely lucky to have come so far with so many brilliant memories.

As for the graves on the hillsides. I can now see that there is a much more to these people s lives and circumstances than just names and dates on a tombstone. All of these people from the past had stories and events meaningful to them and their families and loved ones of their times.  Yes death is inevitable for everyone, but so is life……….life exists to be lived, experienced, to laugh, to cry, to love, and be loved. Yes and perhaps…………..just perhaps there is more to death than life itself.

Perhaps a re-boot could be needed

Perhaps a re-boot could be needed

There were many private unexpected tears shed by me over these thoughts as they revealed my hidden unresolved emotions. I hope I have been successful in telling my little story so that it is easily understood. I am convinced I have resolved my grief for now and just like Bilbo Baggins, I can move on and go exploring again to find new adventures and new satisfaction. Perhaps slay a dragon or two, or save a damsel in distress, who knows????

Lee aka Popeye

Losing and Regaining the Plot

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Hoplessness

Hoplessness

I apologise to followers of this site for the delay in new material, but I was not overly concerned as I thought my last subject matter was more than relevant to carry us through. I have had a bit of a rough time emotionally lately as you will see and at one point thought I would not relay this information on to this web page. However Greg has whispered in my ear to remind me, that together we promised to supply on this web page personal information about both the good and the bad, the warts and all stuff. So I have decided to include my latest fight with the devil and lay it all out here in public.

I could have decided not to reveal this personal issue and kept it private but I have decided to be open and frank with my readers in the hope that others that read this article may receive some benefit from my story. It is a truism that you are never alone in life in both good times and bad times. Here it is for those who may benefit: The following personal account of my losing the plot and regaining some semblance of normality. Given more time I would have liked to present this information  as a much more profound account, but that was not to be. So here it is in a raw emotional article of fact.

Recently I spent six weeks in Cairns visiting my daughter and her family. This was made possible because my wife had agreed to house sit her sisters property which is also in Cairns while her sister was away on a trip. The visit went well but was full of stress for a number of reasons which are much too complicated for me to go into in this article. Besides the stress, it was a very successful visit none the less and culminated in a sailing trip for myself and my daughter, her family, an old army friend and my eldest grandson. We visited the reef and Fitzroy Island and had a ball.

As I was out of my normal routine, medication for my newly acquired diabetes diagnoses went out the window as did most of my normal fitness regime along with diet and alcohol consumption. However I returned home in what I thought, was a happy frame of mind looking forward to getting back into my normal regime. I had no idea that within two days my world was about to implode.

The following information is still as weird for me today as I write this, as you are about to read. Within two days of our return I had a minor disagreement with my wife and something snapped inside my head. I stormed off with a packed suitcase, left my mobile phone and medication at home and took off in the middle of the night. I departed on an insane five-hour drive and headed out to my little sapphire claim west of Emerald.

The stuff that was going through my head during the drive convinced me, that It was better if I just up and died immediately, right then and there to relieve my wife and family of all the rotten stuff that may be ahead of me. I felt I could spare them the horrible ordeal that I felt lay in the future. I felt pretty old, passed my used by date, worthless, useless and hopeless. Many times during that manic nights drive, I seriously contemplated suicide by swerving off the road and driving into the nearest tree. However at the last moment I lacked the courage to carry it through. I spent the next week at the camp re-evaluating my position and trying to find some sense in it all. I remained off my medications and refused to eat with the intention of hopefully bringing on a heart attack ( I now cringe at this mental gymnastic of mine.)

My son eventually turned up at the camp in a worried state at the direction of his worried mother and we were able to have a sane conversation. The result of all this is, that I returned home to Mackay in a stunned state and contacted the Queensland Cancer Council. They have a counselling service available free for cancer patients and their families. I decided to contacted them as I did not want to go to my GP for fear of just being handed more medication. The Cancer Council offered me the option of an independant view and as such they have been remarkable.

Thinking back on my emotional state at the time, the main problem for me was trying to understand what led me to behaving and thinking in this way. I still cannot work it out and perhaps I never will. I thought I had my demons under control, but on that night I completely lost the plot and it is so hard for me to understand why. My only straw I can grasp at to make sense of it all, is that it may have been a result of all the stress leading up to the happy Cairns visit, my not using the diabetes medication and ignoring dietary and alcohol consumption limits may have led to an imbalance of my brain chemistry.

At the time of writing this article I still feel embarrassed and at a complete loss as to how this state of affairs slipped through my guard. I have always been, and hope to continue being an upbeat type of person. Interestingly the Queensland Cancer Council Counsellor has assured me that my emotional state at the time is not an unusual event. Cancer patients who can appear to be coping well with their diagnoses for years and years and also for some who have been cured may still fall into a black hole at some later time in their lives.

There is an answer and help available

There is an answer and help available

For those that may be experiencing similar problems, it might be well worth while re-reading my last sentence, that it is not unusual for cancer patients either in remission or cured to crash into depression many years after the event. The trick is to realise what seems to be real is only a state of mind that blocks out the sun and is false. There is help out there to provide support to those who are in need. My hope in relating these events is to show others that these thoughts can blindside us for a time, but there is better way forward.

Lee aka Popeye

12 Month Anniversary Tribute For Greg

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Greg

Greg

Dear Readers. On the 24th September, it will be the sad anniversary of the death of Greg Naylor from prostate cancer. So as a tribute to Greg I would like to do the following. I have re-published the articles “The Last Post” By his son David and also the article by Greg “I Have Never Died Before.” These are immediately below this post.

The article “I Have Never Died Before,” was Greg’s attempt at bringing everything together in a book form. It finished up a complete autobiography, not only with his fight with cancer but his personal life and spiritual beliefs throughout his time on earth. Greg’s article is his legacy to his family and the general public as a complete life story of the man himself.

It is not everyone who gets the chance to do this during their lives, but in Greg’s case I feel it was the cancer itself that gave him the opportunity to envisage and compiete this story. In many ways, it could be read and seem to be a very ordinary story with little to offer the reader. However there is much more to evaluate when looking deeper into this mans life and comparing it with ourselves.

Greg in his illness, attempted to give something back to other men diagnosed with this disease and he chose to do this through his web site. He, like myself wanted to offer a personalised account of his medical and mental trials throughout his treatment so that others, coming behind him could identify with someone who is going through the maze before them.

It has been said that each mans journey with prostate cancer is different on a medical level, but there are many similarities on a personal basis that patients can take advantage of for help and guidance when either, reading or talking to those that have been there before them. That is a recognised benefit of support groups; and this is exactly what Greg’s site offers readers.

The hidden value of Greg’s articles is that they are timeless. The information related to cancer and its effects is identifiable and just as relevant today as when he began writing about his journey with cancer in 2008. My efforts of contributing to this web page, is in hope that this site continues to satisfy a need for personal information to men diagnosed with prostate cancer and their carer’s. I would very much like to continue providing much of what Greg began in 2008 for those that follow us down the track.

The article/book, “I Have Never Died Before” is reproduced below this article and following Davids tribute with the “Last Post.” It is a lengthy book size article with a table of contents making it easier to move about. I would urge readers to investigate the chapters, as they will lead people into the private life of a good man.

I sometimes wonder if things might have been different for Greg, had he survived long enough to see the acceptance and availability in Australia of the new drug Abiraterone. (Zytiga) The question will remain unanswered unfortunately, but this drug will make a difference in the management of prostate cancer for many men from this time onward .

Greg, in my mind you stand proudly beside those men and women who I have, from time to time brought to the attention of our readers in my previous articles. Andy Ripley, Harry Pinchot, Jai and Randy Pausche and the many more ordinary folk who have managed to make a difference, and of whom I have still to discover. Thank you Greg for being there for me.

Old Mate

Old Mate

Lee aka Popeye