Mike’s Cancer Update: Nearly Two Years Later
It was two years ago when I was told I might have prostate cancer and that I needed to get further tests. After the tests, I heard the words nobody ever wants or expects to hear. "You Have Cancer." My Surgery last year didn't remove all of the cancerous cells so I had to have radiation treatments and hormone therapy earlier this year in hopes of finally saying, suck it, cancer! Well, this is what's happened.
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 earlier this 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 in the 80's and now works now in Philadelphia, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. 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 of being cancer free, I will start to forget about it, but I will probably carry that fear with me for the rest of my life.
I do have some good news that I can FINALLY share with you. For the first time in over two years my blood test just came back normal. My PSA shows that the cancer was undetectable. So I am hoping this is the beginning of a long run of clear blood tests, good health and being cancer free.
I'm not completely out of the woods yet. I go in for blood tests every three 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 to all of you who listen and follow me here, when I began this journey, that 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 may 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 last in March of 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 the cancer had spread there. (luckily, it hadn't spread) 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, that would be it...cancer gone and I could get on with the rest of my life. Unfortunately I found out a few months later, that apparently 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 had no prostate any more..but since that had never happened in any of my follow ups, my doctor broke the news that it could only mean one thing and that was that the cancer was still there and that I would be need to undergo further procedures to hopefully get rid of the cancer cells once and for all.
So at the end of March this year, I began an 8 week regiment 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 thought the side effects really suck.
I'd like to apologize to all my family, friends, co-workers and the 12 Mix 106 listeners in if I was more crabby, irritable, moody or depressed than usual over the past year...it wasn't me...it was the side effects of my treatment.
In a crazy coincidence, as I was parking in the Idaho Urological parking lot on my last day of my last radiation treatment, I received a call from a long time friend who had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was in the exact spot I was a year earlier with so many questions and wanted to have someone to talk to and give guidance.
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.
September is Prostate cancer awareness month...so 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
Also, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so ladies, same to you! Get checked! The best cure is early detection.
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 some day we finally get to talk about cancer in the past tense.