Month 127 – PSA Results

I went for my originally scheduled six-month PSA test last Thursday and was able to look online last night to see the disconcerting results: A substantial increase to 0.21 ng/ml.

Breaking the 0.2 ng/ml threshold now officially puts me into the biochemical recurrence category, at least according to the long-held definition of biochemical recurrence.

Needless to say, I felt gut-punched on seeing the results. Sure, I’ve know for over five years that my trend has been upward, but I guess I got comfortable with it bouncing around the 0.10 to 0.16 range for the last few years. I wasn’t expecting such a substantial leap between my “surprise” PSA test in February and this one in June.

When it comes to PSA doubling time, it dropped from 67.7 months to 52.8 months with this latest test result included in the calculations. If I look at only the five most recent test results, the PSA doubling time drops to 46.5 months. Of course, all of those are great numbers that a lot of guys would like to have.

My appointment with the doctor isn’t until 6 July, and it will be an interesting conversation now that we’ve crossed that magical line of 0.2 ng/ml. In a way, I’m glad I’ve got several weeks to think this through and to come up with good questions to ask so that I’m prepared for the appointment.

Of course, salvage radiation therapy just moved to the top of the list of things to talk about. It will be interesting to see if their recommendation changes given the 0.21 number versus the long PSA doubling time.

Needless to say, there’s going to be much reflection and research in the weeks ahead.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, reminding us that one in seven men will be affected by prostate cancer in their lifetimes. It’s also a good reminder to take a few moments to learn more about the disease, the ongoing debate concerning screening for prostate cancer, its symptoms (or lack thereof), and the myriad of treatment options should you happen to be that one in seven.

There are plenty of resources out there from which you can learn. Schedule an appointment with your physician and have an open, honest discussion about your risks and whether or not you should be screened. In the end, it’s important to remember: It’s your body, your choice.

Please share this important reminder with the men in your life.

Six Years

Six years ago today, I was told I had prostate cancer. Guess what? It’s six years later and I’m still alive and kickin’. Woo-hoo!

PSA Trend 20160803Of course, the cancer storm clouds may be brewing as I head into my next PSA test in a few weeks. Who knows what crazy result it will yield. Remember, in the last 15 months, we’ve gone from undetectable to 0.05 to 0.04 to 0.08 to 0.05. Any bets on the results this time around??

My schedule in early December is quite hectic, so I’ll likely go for the blood draw during the week of 28 November. As usual, I’ll wait three days to get the results online, and then my appointment with the urologist is on 29 December.

Stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Month 70 – Sharing Awareness

We’re about half-way through Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and it seems as there’s been some progress in getting the word out. More organizations seem to be helping to increase awareness than in the past, and that’s a good thing.

I’ll have to admit that my own approach to PCAM has changed slightly. I’m more inclined to tell people to educate themselves before making the decision to test.

Those of us who have been dealing with prostate cancer understand how complex, convoluted, conflicting, and confusing it can be. If you’ve never entertained the notion that you can get prostate cancer, you probably haven’t paid much attention to the raging debates in the field. DRE or no DRE? PSA test or no PSA test? Over-treatment versus under-treatment? Active surveillance versus treatment? That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself before being tested.

One of my former managers always said, “If you can’t stand the answer, don’t ask the question.” Your decision to get screened for prostate cancer is exactly that: your decision. You have to be comfortable with either path you take, and the best way to make that decision is by being educated. Please take a few moments this month—Prostate Cancer Awareness Month—to learn more about prostate cancer and how it can affect you. You can start with my Resources page.

I finally made my family and friends aware of my detectable PSA shortly after my visit with my urologist in August. There was concern from those who responded but, on the whole, the reaction was good. I knew that sitting on this for a year would cause some deserved criticism, too, but they seemed to understand my rationale.

It’s a relief to have it out in the open now. As one of my readers wrote on his own blog, “A burden shared is a burden halved.” Yep. It is. (Sorry, I can’t find the quote again to give credit where credit is due!)

On the whole, I’ve been able to push aside the emotions and thoughts that the cancer may be returning, and it feels good to be reengaged in the world. The next PSA test is in December.

Now if I can just get used to the fact that it’s dark when my alarm goes off in the morning… It wasn’t that long ago that the sun shining through my east-facing bedroom window woke me up and not the alarm. Autumn and shorter days are here! (In San Diego, shorter days are about the only indicator of it being autumn.)

Day 1,773 – Waiting Sucks

As you can tell from the title of this post, it’s going to be a long three months.

This morning, my mind was filled with thoughts of prostate cancer and it took considerable effort to get focused on the task at hand at work, but I eventually succeeded.  Some of the thoughts centered on the fear of the unknown and the long wait to get to the known, and others were more administrative in nature regarding this blog.

Sometimes I think pulling the plug on this blog would be just what the doctor ordered. By maintaining it, it forces prostate cancer to be in the forefront of my mind at least monthly.  But I also know that by not maintaining it, that isn’t going to make my current predicament go away, so I may as well blog about it.  I’ve learned things from others in the process of doing this, and I know that sharing my experience has helped at least a handful of people along the way.  Besides, when you’ve been doing something religiously for almost five years, it’s a tough habit to break.

Of course, it being Prostate Cancer Awareness Month keeps the topic in my news feeds, too, and I feel compelled to work to increase awareness, so I guess I’ll just keep reading the stories.

On the bright side of this, the initial panic and fear have subsided.  I’m down to rational thought on what I should be doing or researching next.

Okay.  It’s late. I’m rambling.  Thanks for letting me think aloud. I’ll get this under control and will work on my patience…  Really.


Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Image from

It’s September and that means it’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. One in seven men will develop prostate cancer in their lives.

Please take time this month to understand and learn more about prostate cancer and to spread the word.  Awareness saves lives.

If you haven’t been checked recently (or ever), make an appointment with your doctor.  It was a screening during a long-overdue physical exam that caught my cancer, and here I am 4 years, 9 months, and 21 days since my diagnosis, still alive and advocating for prostate health.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation offers a great overview for those wanting to learn more.  Check it out here.

On a related note, I go for my next PSA test this week.  Results to follow in my next regularly scheduled post if I have them by then.


Month 46 – Views on Cancer Awareness

Okay.  Buckle up.  I’m climbing on my annual cancer awareness soap box.

Seeing pink on the the Chula Vista Fire Department’s Facebook page today made me see red.

I want to see powder blue.  Especially in September.

Why CVFD would post this during National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a bit perplexing.  (Actually, not really.  They just want to get a jump start on fundraising with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)

One in seven of those male firefighters will face prostate cancer, and they apparently choose not to acknowledge it; they choose not to spread awareness; and they choose not to fight something that can directly impact themselves.


I’m not a marketing guru by any stretch of the imagination, but the Susan G. Komen Foundation certainly has turned its cause into an empire through effective and ubiquitous marketing.  Everywhere you turn, there’s a freakin’ pink something-or-other reminding you of the scourge of breast cancer and the need to cure it.  Hell, watch an NFL game next month and you’ll see 300-pound linebackers wearing pink shoes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not downplaying breast cancer at all, nor am I condemning the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s success.  In fact, just the opposite.  Prostate cancer awareness teams have to take a page from the Foundation’s marketing playbook.  But it may be more than a marketing issue.

Is there a stigma associated with prostate cancer that prevents people–men–from talking about it?

If so, how do we eradicate the stigma so that we can eradicate the disease?  How do we get men to realize that it’s not only okay to talk about prostate health, but we should go out of our way to talk about it.  There’s nothing embarrassing about it.

Do we show them stories like this reporting the death from prostate cancer of San Diego’s Bishop Cirilo Flores, who was diagnosed in April and died in September?

It’s not all doom and gloom.  The Prostate Cancer Foundation and others like the Safeway Foundation have been more visible with their efforts to increase awareness, even since I was diagnosed almost four years ago.  That’s good.  But we need more.  Much more.

And this little blog with its almost 15,000 clicks isn’t going to change the world of prostate cancer awareness by itself.  (Although I will keep tilting at that windmill…)

Time to climb down off my soap box.  Thanks for letting me vent.

Finally, lest you think I’m bashing our firefighters, especially today, I’m not.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for what our first responders do, day in, and day out.
Remembering 9/11

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and even thought there’s been a lot in the news lately about changes in screening and treatment options, it’s still critical that men educate themselves about prostate cancer.

I had no clue that I would be introducing “cancer” into my vocabulary nearly four years ago, but I did.

It happened after a digital rectal exam during a routine physical that I had put off for a couple of years.  That day changed my life and was the beginning of this journey.

Please take time in September to talk to the men in your lives about this important issue, and ask them to learn a little more about it.

Three Years Since Diagnosis

Three Years

So it was three years ago yesterday that my urologist confirmed what my gut had been telling me for 5 weeks–I had prostate cancer.  Kind of hard to believe that it’s been that long ago already.

Looking back on the experience, I didn’t realize how much it would impact others.  My sister had a melt down when she heard the news.  Friends that I thought would be there for me couldn’t even bring themselves to be in the same room with me, let alone have an open discussion about cancer.  And acquaintances that I barely interacted with prior to the diagnosis became my staunchest supporters.

The biggest lesson that I learned was that I, as the cancer patient, would have to take the lead and guide those around me through example as to how and when it was okay to talk about the diagnosis.  People were afraid to bring up the topic or simply ask, “How are you doing?” for fear that it would send me into a tizzy.

So for those of you reading who may be newly diagnosed, remember that even though it’s primarily about you, it’s also about everyone you come in contact with as well.  Look at the world through their eyes.  (Or, perhaps, even how you yourself acted when you learned that a friend or family member was diagnosed with cancer.)  And, if you do have a close friend or family member who can’t be there for you, don’t push it and don’t judge them.  Accept it and move on.

Latest PSA Results

My latest six month check-up shows that my PSA remains undetectable (<0.03 ng/ml) which is great news, of course.  No signs of little cancer bugs.  Next check-up: 13 May 2014.

More Men’s Health Awareness

To promote men’s health awareness as a part of Movember, Matt Lauer and Al Roker had DRE prostate exams done live on the Today show (don’t worry, you don’t see the actual DRE being performed):

Matt Lauer and Al Roker have prostate exams

It’s great that we continue to increase awareness, but I really wish the men’s health community would be more consolidated and more focused in its efforts.

My local grocery chain highlights prostate cancer in June; there’s National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September, and there’s Movember in November.  Perhaps it’s good that there are year-round activities, but by being somewhat disjointed, we lack the higher profile and oomph that the breast cancer awareness campaign has.

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Finally, for those readers in the U.S. about to observe Thanksgiving, I hope you have a great holiday with family and friends.


I forgot that November is “Movember.”  Men grow moustaches to support awareness about men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health.

You’re supposed to start the month clean-shaven on 1 November and grow and groom a moustache through the end of the month.  Moustache-growing teams raise money to support cancer research and men’s health.  You can read about it here:


It’s been decades since I last tried growing a moustache, and when I did, the light blond whiskers on my upper lip were barely visible, so you really couldn’t tell it was there.  Maybe I’ll give it another shot this month and see what happens.  I’m guessing it may be more gray than blond, and will still be barely visible.  Oh well.