This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.
Another Punch to the Stomach
The beast has dropped me to my knees again.
For whatever reason, it is effecting me worse than the diagnosis more than a year ago.
Thursday (two days ago) I went to see my new Urologist for what I thought was a 6-month routine followup. I mentioned that I was occasionally having some noctural erections and there was an ache, that I thought would be expected. After all, the tissues might have atrophied and trying to expand would produce an ache.
The Uro said he wanted to check and asked me to drop my pants. Okay, I said, thinking it was nothing. He felt behind my scrotum at the base of the penis, pushing his fingers into my flesh. It felt uncomfortable.
Finally he said, ''There is something back there, a mass. It could be Peyronie's disease or mets into the penis,'' He continued to push. ''It's not unusual to get mets to the penis.''
I knew what Peyronie's disease was. It is a form of scarring that often occurs after an RP. No real cause is known and there isn't any real ''cure.'' When it occurs in the shaft of the penis, it can cause a bending or curvature. Granted it was possible, but I knew it was unlikely. It was more possible that there was a metastases at the base of the penis.
''If it is mets,'' I asked, ''what can be done?''
''Radiation,'' he said as ceased his examination. ''You can pull up your pants.'' I did. ''I'd like to get a CAT Scan to see what it is.''
He picked up a phone and called. I no longer existed. There was no one here who was scared shitless. There was only his phone and someone he was trying to reach.
He began to talk and after a few exchanges, he hung up. I had an appointment for the next Monday morning. Have a nice day. Next!
As I left the VA hospital, my stomach was gone.
Radiation. I had heard and read horror stories of side-effects from tissue damage to rectal bleeding. If there was any hope of ever regaining my potency, radiation to the penis would end it. But more than anything, it could mean by respite was over, that the disease was closing in and I would have to make choices, difficult choices.
I really hadn't appreciated, until now, how I had been free of such decisions. I got my Zoladex shots every three months and then went about my business. Unlike most men, I didn't have to decide on treatment. The stage of my cancer preempted any choices. I didn't have to struggle with a choice between surgery and seeding. I didn't have to think about the consequences, politely called ''Quality of Life.'' Like a blessing, it had been taken from my hands.
Now it was different. I might have to decide if I wanted radiation. I would have to consider side-effects and balance them against the possible benefits of the radiation but in my view, there were none. It was downhill from there. Yes, there are men who will say their lives were saved, but all I can think of are those who struggle with the side-effects.
Then there is chemo, which pushes one's body to the edge of death, to kill the cancer.
I don't like this.