GREG'S LEGACY

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

Posts Tagged ‘Hormone therapy

Christmas Greetings for 2015

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Seasons Greetings

Seasons Greetings

Hello again to anyone out there who still visits this site and my very heartfelt best wishes to the world in general. MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone and my wishes for a HAPPY FESTIVE SEASON to all people regardless of religious persuasions. May the politicians and the people of the world find some sanity and peace in 2016. 

As I grow older I have come to embrace this time of year emotionally. I use this sense of time and place to slow right down and do a stock-take of past life events. I give thanks to the universe and or my creator for the people close to me and those that have sadly left me behind. I give thanks for my home, the area where I live and the peace that I enjoy here. I give thanks for the skill of the surgeons, doctors and nurses that have given me extra time and an improvement in my quality of life. I am constantly amazed at the diversity of skills and capacities of mankind that surrounds us. I give thanks for the love, respect, understanding  and respect of my wife, my companion and carer 

I have not contributed an article here since May this year and the reason has simply been that I had nothing to report, I am doing OK for the moment. I am not a doctor and lack certain mental understanding of things medical, to gather technical stuff together to present here on this site. Besides there is a ton of technical information available on cancer, treatments and drugs that are presented by others more qualified than I.

At the very beginning of my illness I went seeking articles on the human personal side of cancer diagnosis and treatment. I found this site established by Greg and eventually was able to contribute articles myself. Greg wrote about his illness, treatments, mental anguish, treatment discoveries, general ups and downs from week to week. He also unveiled his personal life, family history and his private philosophy on life in general. The information Greg presented is still relevant today for those seeking a personal perspective on the effects of chronic illness. Like Greg, I also tried to write on a personal level describing my personal experiences with dealing with this cancer,  however I did try to include other areas of interest that I thought might appeal to readers.

Together Greg and I have attempted to bring a personal touch to such subjects as:

Cancer diagnosis and grading….. Treatment and decision making…….Cancer screening and primary treatments…….Effects of surgery, Radiation, Androgen Deprivation Therapy, Chemotherapy….Other alternative treatments…. Advances in treatments and research… Cancer progression……. The carers role….End of life preparations…….Palliative and Hospice Care….Cancer statistics…… Depression, suicide and Euthanasia…….Personal experiences with treatments when a primary treatment goes wrong…..A personal view of the meaning of life, the creator or god.

Since my life saving surgery in November 2014 there has not been too much else happening in my cancer world. I remain in remission for the moment, although my last PSA results showed a small increase. This increase in PSA was not significant enough to draw a conclusion, so my doctor and I are awaiting my next PSA result due in a couple of weeks. The result from this will determine if my cancer is still active somewhere or if I remain in remission. If the cancer has begun to progress my only option in that case will be to return to ADT treatment and then continue to monitor the PSA with further treatment decisions to be made along the path.

Farewell until 2016

Farewell until 2016

So until things become clearer for me or change dramatically, or I find an interesting subject to report here for readers, I will bid every-one goodbye for now and hope to return sometime in 2016.

Cheers

Lee aka Popeye.

 

Latest Advances In Treatment Of Prostate Cancer And The Butterfly Effect

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The Blue Tiger

The Blue Tiger

The first blast of winter has reached my little tropical hideaway part of the world. There is a massive high pressure system south of the Great Australian Bight directing Antarctic winds right up the east coast of Australia. Night time temperatures have dropped below 10 degrees celsius with day time temps below 25 deg. It may not sound like a big deal to my southern neighbours but living in temperatures that average minimums of 25 deg to maximums of 35 degrees for nine months of the year it becomes a shock with the first winter blast in this part of the country.

At least the butterfly swarms are still passing by my verandah but I am guessing that this cold dry change will knock them back a bit for this year. Between March and May every year I can sit daily on my verandah and watch the procession of these beautiful creatures as they travel from the south in a northerly direction. I have even seen these swarms over the ocean 100 kilometers from land. Where they come from and where they are going I have no idea. They just happen here every year with the main type being the “blue tiger” but also many other species of all colours and sizes can be mixed with them.

Watching them the other day reminded me of an old metaphor called “The Butterfly Effect.” This was a theory exploring the concept of a small thing happening on one side of the planet (such as the flapping of a butterfly wing) can cause an immense reaction in one form or another on the other side of the world. It was part of a theory called the “Chaos Theory” and was generally attributed to calamities, however I believe in “Yin and Yan,” so the theory in my opinion should apply equally between good and bad.

One thing cancer has taught me, is to look at life more deeply and appreciate things in a more meaningful way, hence my fixation of my butterflies, their life cycle and the theory. Such a beautiful creature that evolves by unfolding itself from a lowly caterpillar after pupation. I like to believe the whole story offers hope that small actions can create massive changes for the good in this world. Mankind is still at the beginnings of meaningful good changes as witnessed by lifestyle differences. opportunities and other madness going on in the world; We are seriously out of balance. However the more developed countries involve themselves in the opportunity to continue to make advances in areas such as medical practices the more likely these advances will eventually filter throughout all the world. This then takes me to the subject I wish to offer readers in this article, regarding the advances made recently and where we are headed in the treatment of prostate cancer.

So how has treatment for prostate cancer advanced over the past number of years? Before I begin I should quote the following statistic for my readers. The prostate cancer 5-year survival rate has improved from 59% in 1986 to above 92% today, and likewise for most types of cancer the 5-year survival rate has increased. This increased survival rate is due to improved medical practices, the introduction of new drugs and/or the treatment methods and successful research outcomes.

In the case of prostate cancer, over 3300 men will die of this disease this year, even though it is still thought of as a slow-growing old mans disease. The truth is, that early low-grade prostate cancer is indeed slow to promulgate but there are high-grade aggressive varieties that are lethal, and indeed more younger men are now being diagnosed with this disease in their thirties and forties.

While PSA monitoring and DRE procedure have been the main indicators for biopsy; Research is searching for other prostate cancer markers to use, and several exciting pathological trials are underway. Medical imaging has also expanded, with much advances in imaging from MRI, CT and PET scans, along with ultrasound technologies. Much of this future researching and improvements should bring huge benefits in assisting doctors to discern at diagnosis, between the non lethal and lethal types of prostate cancers. This then, should have a great impact in decisions regarding primary treatment for the patient. Improved imaging should enhance the ability to locate and direct biopsies and also to better detect metastasis to bone and other tissues.

In the past few years there has been the introduction of new drugs such as Abiraterone Acetate (Zytiga) and Enzulutamide (Xtandi) which are advances in hormonal drugs offering greater survival rates, with less side effects. Sipuleucel T (Provenge) is an Immunotherapy drug and treatment, which stimulates the individual patients own immune system to attack cancer cells. Radium 233 (Xofigo) which is a radioactive type drug, used in the treatment of bone metastasis with prostate cancer.

Much research continues to search for and identify the different individual characteristics of prostate tumours. This may lead to drugs being available for specific types of tumours, and could lead to individual tailored drugs being used on a patient circumventing the need for current primary treatments of surgery and radiation. This could  have profound effects in preventing major life changing side effects.

AMEN

AMEN

There is much excitement and discoveries still to come in the medical world over the next decade, and I hope I am still alive to see much of it. Meanwhile I will keep admiring my butterflies for the hope they offer for a better world to come. Is it Possible?????? Perhaps.

 

Lee aka Popeye

 

 

Progesterone Balances Testosterone

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***** This is a reblog of a post Greg published on 23.06.2012. In view of my latest article I thought I would publish this again to add further information for those interested in this subject.******

Lee aka Popeye

FACT: USP natural progesterone builds bone density (osteoporosis)

If you are or have been on Hormone Therapy (ADT). you WILL get osteoporosis – a chalking of the bones.  Eventually, you WILL have what they term “A Skeletal Event” usually a fracture of a hip bone.  I did.  If it does nothing else, Progesterone WILL prevent that happening. – Greg

My “quality of life” was stolen by the hormone therapy (Zoladex + Androcur).   I was one of those who reacted badly to ADT.

But, I got it back no thanks to my to my medical team.  Inside 2 days, Natural Progesterone Cream turned everything around giving me back my vitality and quality of life.

Dr. John Lee, M.D. (deceased),  the author of several books including What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, has found that progesterone for men is one of the most effective treatments for prostate cancer. He had a series of patients who had metastatic prostate cancer who went into complete remission with natural progesterone. Progesterone appears to turn on the anti-cancer gene p53.

Progesterone is a hormone manufactured in the body from the steroid hormone pregnenolone. Progesterone is a precursor to most of the other steroid hormones, including cortisol, androstenedione, the estrogens and testosterone.

As a precursor, it looks for weaknesses in the hormone balance and converts into whatever is needed to bring the balance back.  Traditional ‘ PC hormone therapy’ or ADT tries to do the same by reducing the testosterone.  It does not consider the ‘hormone balance’ option.

Both men and women produce all of the sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, HGH, progesterone, cortisol, etc,).  We just use them in different quantities and for different purposes.  As we get older and no longer need as much of any one of them, we slow down on the production and the balance is lost leading to many forms of ill health.  Men also become estrogen dominant and suffer the same problems that women have during menopause. Progesterone fixes that and is also actively involved in the building of bones.

Our doctors are generally unaware of progesterone to treat prostate cancer.  My doctors ignored my requests until they could offer no further options.  I had to get a prescription from a doctor and then have the 4% cream made by a blending pharmacist.  They certainly make it difficult to access, don’t they!  I use 1 cc or 1 gram (measured by supplied spoon) both morning and night.  that is the equivalent of around 80mg a day.

My GP was so amazed with the result, he has prescribed it to other PC patients.  He believes it is effective for any hormone related tumours.

If your quality of life is being effected by your ‘Gold Standard’ treatment, give it a go.  You will find out if it helps within a few days.

USP natural progesterone refers to the progesterone substance that is exactly the same hormone that is made by the human body. USP natural progesterone is not the same as the ‘progestins‘ that are synthetic versions of progesterone sold by the pharmaceutical companies.

Natural USP progesterone can provide many health benefits for both men and women (read our important article on natural progesterone for more information) , but only if it’s USP progesterone, the only type that’s bio-identical to the naturally occurring progesterone in your body.

I get my Natural Progesterone Cream 100g 4% from MJ Health & Beauty online.

Related Articles:

Greg’s Legacy Posts about Progesterone:

Lee’s side effects of hormone therapy ADT

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Drug side effect

Drug side effects

I began hormone therapy soon after my diagnosis of PCA. My urologist began what is called combined androgen blockade. This consists of a four monthly injected implant LHRH analog agent in my case Eligard. This mainly targets the pituary gland that signals the testes to produce testosterone and the implant prevents this occurring (chemical castration).

I also take a daily anti androgen tablet (Anandron) which targets the adrenal glands that also produce testosterone.

Most readers will be aware of the reasons for the hormone treatment in the management of cancer. In my case I have been advised I will most likely be on this medication for the next three years, post my radiation treatment. (You little beauty)

A search through the web will give you a heap of information regarding the different hormone treatments available and the drugs including the known side effects you can expect to experience. The web will also give you a heap of information in forums from men affected by this treatment. As each person is different in their responses to treatments and there are so many different forms of hormone treatment there is vastly different points of view in the side effects experienced by these men.

I am attempting here to give one example of the effects of a standard hormone treatment on one person, namely me. For the past four months I have been battling a huge change in my quality of life and would like to sum up here my experience. As you will see it is not a happy place to be in for the moment.

Drug side effects

Drug Side Effects

The side effects that I experience can be divided into catagories.

Sexual: Although some of my problems can be attributed to my cancer and TURP procedure, the loss of libido is most notable. I cannot remember the last time I have been sexually aroused and I hardly even think about it although I do apologise to my wife on a regular basis and give her big meaningful hugs.

Physical: Extreme fatigue for most of the time. I am reasonably OK while siting doing nothing, but the moment I become active I experience weakness in the legs with a loss of co-ordination. I have no strength and find it difficult to walk any distance faster than a shuffle. My wife has more strength to lift any articles that have any weight. After walking for 50 meters or any exertion to complete a task I am puffing and panting like an asthmatic.

I constantly wear a light jacket as I frequently become cold and have difficulty maintaining body temperature. This effect is real weird as I think of it as my hot flushes but in reverse as I get cold easily?? My muscle tone is disapearing and replaced by obvious flab and I have developed a nice set of 12 year old boobs. My hair and beard though have become nice and soft. My testicles and penis have shrunk significantly. I find it difficult to drive any distance as I become overwhelmed with the desire to fall asleep and in the case of any extended travel when I am not able to drive, I sleep in the passenger seat from one destination to the next, makes the trip go faster.

A real interesting side effect is a visual one. I have extreme trouble changing from a bright environment to a darker one. If I go from a bright sunlit view to indoors I am almost blind for a while, not being able to adjust to the light difference. This has led me in a couple of memorable times of seeing the blue sky as pink and a green sometimes blue patch of light in the centre of my vision until I can adjust and this may take several minutes. This side effect is a known one for the anandron medication, but it is still weird and worrying. I also have problems sleeping normally at night, often I am dead tired at 6pm only to be wide awake at 1am???? I also suffer stiffness and pain in and around the pelvic area, thighs and lower back.

Mental: I have diminished motivation. Things that used to inspire me I no longer care about. I used to look forward to activities like fishing, sailing, projects around the house etc but not anymore. I have trouble verbalising ideas or offering opinions. I have trouble focusing and decision making. I have difficulty prioritising tasks and my spelling and memory has gone out the window. I experience depressive moments and emotional instability from time to time.

Systemic: While not experiencing any problems at present time I have read where I am vunerable to ostioporosis and cardiac problems.

That just about wraps it up for me apart from the following: I recognise that I will be dealing with these side effects for some time and I am actively trying to sort out a better way for me to deal with them. I suspect most of these side effects are a result of the anandron medication, and I am doing some investigations to try and prove this. I am also forcing myself ( I repeat forcing myself ) to carry out a solid exercise program to try and turn these effects around. Hopefully I will be able to report on these results in a post further down the track.

Lee aka Popeye

Would PCa Screening Have Helped Me

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Prostate Testing and Screening

I have been a contributer to Greg’s Legacy for a short period of time. I was diagnosed in March 2012 with advanced prostate cancer, Gleason 9 graded T3/T4 with 18 out of 18 core samples positive at between 80% and 100% PCA cancerous tissue also involving the lymph system.

Scans taken in March indicated that there was no spread of the cancer to the bones, lungs or liver at that time.

I had been suffering urinary symptoms since August 2011 which increasingly worsened until finally in late January 2012 I sought help which finally led to my diagnosis in March. After diagnosis I was immediately put on ADT ( Hormone therapy) to stabilise the spread of the cancer. My urologist believes that he has a chance to cure this cancer for me using ADT , HDR Brachytherapy and External Beam Radiation.

Due to my urinary issues I had to undergo a TURP procedure in May 2012 to correct my urinary symptoms before I could undergo the radiation treatments. I am almost ready to proceed with the brachytherapy hopefully sometime in September 2012 and am awaiting word from the specialists in Brisbane to confirm the dates.

At diagnosis my urologist made a statement to me after some interrogation of my immediate past 15 years including the fact that I had not been tested for prostate cancer for the past 14 years. He stated the following:  ” You have most likely had this cancer for at least the past 10 years when you have been symptom free”. As I was 64 years old at diagnosis that meant that this cancer may have been picked up when I was 54 years old if screening was the practice.

After receiving this news I was at first upset that perhaps if it had been picked up early I would not be going through this advance stage and its implications that I am now dealing with. However more investigation and wider reading by me on the effects of prostate cancer, treatment, side effects and statistics have slowly changed my mind to be more open on this subject and I offer the following to any readers who may be interested.

There is much debate in the prostate cancer world at the present time as to the relevance of screening men over the age of fifty or forty if there is a family history of prostate cancer. Having now read fairly widely on this matter it appears most of the controversy centres around two main issues. The first issue is the aggressiveness of the cancer that may be diagnosed and the second issue is the debilitation of the side effects of any treatment given to these men.

It is a well known cliche that most men if they live long enough will test positive for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is in most cases a slow growing cancer and many men who have this type of cancer will never experience any symptoms and may die with the disease rather than because of it. It is interesting to read a quote from the discoverer of PSA Dr Richard Ablin who made the following comment. ” The PSA reading as a test is hardly better than a coin toss. It cannot distinguish between the two types of prostate cancer. The one that will kill you and the one that won’t.

Another piece of information I came across which I found interesting is the yearly prostate cancer death statistics in Australia. Approx 2900-3000 men will die from prostate cancer in Australia each year. Of these 58%  are men aged 80 or over, 82% are aged 70  or over and just 2.8% are aged under 60.

The main debilitating side effects from treatment of prostate cancer is incontinence, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation reversal. If you go in search of statistical data related to these side effects you will be hard pressed to find results from different studies that correlate with each other. Rather you will see wide variance of results such as between 15% and 60% of men experience incontinence one year after treatment or between 20% and 70% of men experience sexual problems one year after treatment. All forms of treatment from surgery to radiology, brachytherapy and other forms have the same widely ranging data figures.

Since I became symptomatic back in August 2011 and following my TURP procedure I now have a small taste of what it can be like to have incontinence problems and erectile issues. I have been unable to have sexual relations for nearly a year now and since the TURP I am still wearing pads and experiencing pain on urination.  I still have nocturnal urination issues  sometimes several times throughout the evening. I now know quite a few prostate cancer survivors personally who have advised me of their issues after treatment. A quick read through any prostate forum will reveal that incontinence and sexual issues are very common indeed and debilitating for these men.

So here I am looking at my situation at the present moment. The question for me to answer is, do I regret not being tested earlier so my cancer may have been found and treated easier? If I had written this article two months ago you would have found that I was bitter toward the medical industry for not advising or carrying out any testing during my 50’s. I was bitter that I had to become symptomatic for the cancer to be diagnosed and when it was diagnosed it is advanced. My thinking then was that,  “Man if only I knew back then I could have had it fixed easily”

Education and information is a wonderful thing as it has the power to change opinions and actions. I have since given a lot of thought to the question of “would I have been better off fixing this cancer back when I was say 54 yrs old”? My answer is really my acceptance to myself that things have worked out as they have and cannot be changed. Throughout my fifties I enjoyed a satisfying sexual life, I had no urinary issues and led a good life. At 64 yrs this all changed but I now understand more and I think to myself that perhaps, the past 10 years could have been a lot more miserable for me if I had treatment for the cancer back then due to these side effects.

So would screening for prostate cancer have helped me. I don’t think so and in fact may have led to a loss of quality of life that I enjoyed throughout my 50’s.  I am now satisfied that things have worked out for the best given this cancer is a reality for me to deal with right here and now, for better or worse. If in the next five years I do not die from something else, chances are that this cancer will run its course. In five years and a bit I will be seventy years old which puts me nicely into the statistics for prostate cancer deaths in Australian men.

Further Reference Reading

http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/6835/3/Let-sleeping-dogs-lie.pdf

Lee aka Popeye

Prostate Cancer – Don’t Panic

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So, you have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Don’t panic! Time is on your side and that might help you make better treatment decisions than I did.

Did you know that there are three types of biopsies? Nobody told you? Well that’s par for the course. The doctors won’t tell – you have to ask. Without research, you will never find out if you received the least damaging procedure.

Prostate Cancer is a slow growing disease that, whilst it will not go away without intervention, will not take your life overnight. Many men fully live out their lives without being bothered by the cancer within.

There are five treatment options being radical surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy and active surveillance or watchful waiting.

The first four will leave you less of a man and damage your quality of life. In most cases, they will make you impotent with no further sexual activity … ever! Many also suffer incontinence either temporary or permanent. They will each damage your immune system making recovery much more difficult.

Before chosing any of these options, do anything you can that will boost your immune system. This is usually diet based eating foods with anti-oxidents but includes supplements like lactoferrin that I use or probiotics like  ‘Inner Health Plus‘. Do it now and maintain the only resistence your body has.

Within each of these four radical treatment groups, there are a number of options. It is not about which of the four treatments you will chose, it is about which alternative within that group is best for you.

For example, when I was diagnosed, I was recommended a TURP procedure which I blindly accepted. At that time I was unaware that there was more than one way it was done. I didn’t know that there was a nerve sparing procedure that does not take out your sexuality. It seems that my urologist didn’t do that procedure. Now, I am stuck with the consequences. The problem with specialists is that their particular procedure is the only one they understand.
This ‘multiple choice’ applies to each of the treatment options. It is your life and you need to chose the best option for yourself. Your doctors are too blinkered in their own methods to be a reliable ally.

Watchful Waiting and active surveillance give you time to research the best alternative for you. Even if your cancer is so far advanced that it will take your life, you are not going to change that – and that is the truth.

Take control of your treatment … do your research before accepting any recommendation.  Life is not a dress rehearsal – it is your life and your choice.

Treatment Options