Mike’s Cancer Update: Nearly Two Years Later
It was two years ago this month when I was told I had cancer. I promised all of you, that I would keep you updated on my progress on my trip through cancer treatments and recovery.
I originally had surgery to remove my prostate in June of 2016. Unfortunately, the surgeon was not able to completely remove my cancer, so a year ago I went through nine weeks of daily radiation treatments and hormone therapy. I had my first clean blood test in November of last year, and I'm happy to report, my latest blood test for cancer just came back clean again.
In the two years since my diagnosis, I've lost two friends to cancer. One of which some of you know from his time on the radio here in the Treasure Valley including with us here on Mix 106. Bill Baily was our traffic director here at Mix 106 for a few years and his daughter Clair Day was a part of the Mix Morning show for years too. Bill died last year of lung cancer. He died only a few months after his diagnosis.
Then a month ago, another friend whom I began my radio career with, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He was originally given a 12% chance of survival, but now after almost two years of treatments, he now has increased his chances of survival to over 50%. Still not great, but it's way better than his initial diagnosis. Yes, cancer truly does suck.
We all know or are related in some way, to someone who is or has dealt with cancer. It's not fun, it's not cheap, it's scary and it never goes away. Even now when I get a twinge or a pain that isn't normal, my first thought is always wondering if it's back again or has it spread? I hope that over time, after being cancer free for a while (fingers crossed), I will start to forget about it, but I will probably carry that fear with me for the rest of my life.
I'm not completely out of the woods yet. I go in for blood tests every three to six months for the next year, then every six months for the year after that. Finally, if everything stays good, I just go back every year for the rest of what I hope is a long and happy life.
I promised I would share my experiences with all of you, in hopes that some of you would better understand what I, and maybe someone you know, might be going through. Please also use this as a warning to PLEASE get your blood tested on a yearly basis - even if you don't have any family history of cancer. Blood tests can be great sources to monitor on a year-to-year basis how your health is progressing - or if there are any warning signs.
Had I not been getting yearly blood tests of my PSA, I would be unaware that I had cancer. That would have been awful because the best way to beat prostate cancer is by early detection.
One in six men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer at some point in their life. 250,000 men will be diagnosed this year and my doctor explained that if a man lives long enough he will either die from prostate cancer or die with prostate cancer, but his death will be from something else besides prostate cancer...like old age...but with prostate cancer in his body.
In case you don't remember or are a new listener to our show here's how I got here:
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer March 2016, after some abnormal blood tests and a follow-up biopsy. My cancer was diagnosed as high grade cancer and my doctor suggested surgery would be my best option.
So in June, I entered the hospital at St Al's for a Radical Prostatectomy to remove my cancerous prostate. They also chose to take the surrounding lymph nodes too, just in case cancer had spread. Luckily, it hadn't. The surgery was a success and I even got a little more good news after the surgery. The Doctor downgrading my Gleason Score from an 8/9 to a 7.
My hope was that after a recovery period, I could get on with the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I found out a few months later, that cancer was still present and growing inside my body.
My doctor told me at the time of my surgery that this might happen since the tumor had broken the margins of my prostate and that there may still be some microscopic cancer cells left behind.
In my follow up blood tests, I should have had an undetectable PSA level, because, well I didn't have a prostate, but since that had never happened in any of my follow-ups, my doctor broke the news that it could only mean one thing. That the cancer was still there and I would need to undergo further procedures to hopefully get rid of the cancer cells once and for all.
At the end of March this year, I began an 8-week regimen of daily radiation treatments. Every afternoon after I got off work, I would make the drive to Idaho Urological for my daily dose of radiation designed to kill the cancer cells still left in my body.
In addition to the daily radiation treatments, my doctor also suggested I combine the radiation with Hormone Therapy. Hormone therapy basically shuts down your body's ability to make testosterone. The lack of testosterone helps to slow or stop the growth and spread of cancer.
In a long-term study just published in The New England Journal of Medicine combining radiation with hormone therapy increases my chances of being alive in 10 years by another 5 to 7 percent, so anything to increase my odds....even though the side effects suck.
Larry Gabbert from KTVB, as most of you know was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years before I was. Larry is the friend that I called to ask questions and get honest guidance on my approach in dealing with this very scary disease.
If you're a man over 50, have a history of cancer in your family, or you just like rectal exams, I urge you to get checked. Remember the best way to survive Prostate Cancer is by finding it early
And to the many men, women and children out there who are fighting cancer, my thoughts and prayers are with you. This is not a fun disease to deal with. I just hope that someday we finally get to talk about cancer in the past tense.