Wow. I’m back to the reason I started this blog: If I don’t write, my head will explode. Really.
After my initial meltdown over discovering the change in my PSA reading a week ago today (last Saturday), I was cruising through the last week pretty well. Sure, it was on my mind, but only peripherally.
Thursday night, however, the thought of an increasing PSA came barreling into the forefront of my consciousness like a runaway freight train careening down a mountainside. And it stayed there. All. Freakin’. Night. It remained there all day Friday, too, and well into the wee hours of this morning when my body finally pulled the plug on my brain and said, “Enough! Sleep!!”
I had a flashback to the early days of this experience where I was so overcome by thoughts that I actually went to the doctor, exhausted, asking for assistance in trying to get some sleep. I thought, “No! Not again! I don’t want to go through this again!”
No matter how hard I tried to re-focus on anything other than increasing PSAs yesterday, I kept coming back to it over and over again. Technically, I never came back to it, because I never actually left the thoughts behind. They were a constant presence.
Nothing worked, so I figured I’d tackle it head-on by breaking out Dr. Patrick Walsh’s Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer and researching more so that I would be better prepared for my urologist appointment on Tuesday. I’m glad that I did; I’m a little smarter this morning than I was last night.
I know that I’m getting way, way, way ahead of the facts here, but I learned that I’d be a good candidate for salvage radiation therapy (SRT) given my Gleason of 7 and being more than three years out since the increase in PSA began. The only unknown is the PSA doubling time. Of course, just like everything with prostate cancer, there are multiple schools of thought as to whether and when SRT should start.
But I also learned that it can take up to 8 years on average after the first sign of a PSA increase for the cancer to metastasize to the point where it can show up on a scan someplace.
At this point, the logical, analytical side of me understands that having a PSA of 0.05 ng/mL is still considered to be undetectable, and there’s no reason to panic. I’m generally okay with the number. What I’m not okay with is the movement in the numbers.
I get that most doctors believe that biochemical recurrence doesn’t occur until the PSA hits 0.2 ng/mL, with others believing that it’s better to wait until it’s 0.4 ng/mL, so 0.05 ng/mL isn’t close to either of those numbers.
I also get that emotions are fickle and often trump logic in a big way, and that’s what made me the most frustrated this week–my inability to control my emotional reaction as I would like to. I really, really don’t want to be going back to Days 19 -22 again. Really. But that uncontrollable emotional roller coaster is all part of the wonderful experience we call cancer. [Sarcasm.] I hate roller coasters.
Tuesday’s urologist appointment can’t come quickly enough. Things that I’ll be asking:
- What does going from a reading of <0.03 ng/mL for over 4 years to a reading of 0.05 ng/mL at 4 years and 8 months mean to you?
- How and when are we going to confirm that this was either a blip or a real change?
- If it is a real change, what’s the plan going forward?
Standby for a few random posts in the days and weeks ahead as we navigate through this new chapter in my journey.
[Oh. I had to break out my spreadsheets to calculate what day of this journey today is.]