Today’s blog marks my one year anniversary of the beginning my 3rd round of treatment for prostate cancer at the Dattoli Cancer Center in Sarasota, Florida since being diagnosed in January of 2012, almost 5 years ago. THIS treatment consisted of 8 weeks of radiation (this time to my lymph nodes in my abdomen) coupled with one year of hormone therapy (Lupron injections) along with the following regime of off-label prescription drugs (pictured) (off label means they are being prescribed for treating something other than what the drug was intended to be used for):
Metformin, Casodex, Cabergoline, Celebrex, Finasteride, and Bicaludamide (Bicaludamide is actually intended as a complementary treatment with hormone therapy).
This is anything but conventional treatment. This is a radical all out effort to try and eradicate a cancer that does not reveal itself via MRI, CAT scan, bone scan, or any other scan but continues to lurk somewhere in my body after leaving my prostate. The only signal I have of progressing cancer is a rising PSA. Dr. Dattoli is “aiming” for a cure that conventional medicine says is not possible. Based on his years of treating the disease, he is convinced the cancer is lurking in the lymph nodes of my abdomen. Lymph nodes are usually the first destination of metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer on it’s way to bone. If we can’t wipe it out, maybe we can at least slow it down. Mindy and I are hopeful but know the possibility of a “cure” is actually pretty low.
One year ago today, Mindy and I were standing at the kitchen counter of our temporary home in Sarasota, FL for the next 8 weeks. The angst leading up to that week surpassed all of my other cancer angst the previous 4.5 years. I was diagnosed with PC in Dec. of 2011 in Santa Cruz. Based on biopsy results (T2a / GS of 6) we opted for an radical prostatectomy (RP) in Santa Cruz using robotic surgery in Jan of 2012. Final biopsy post surgery is T3b, with 70% involvement of prostate, GS 7 (3+4), and perennial invasion around the bladder neck – oh shit. My prostate specific antigen (PSA, which is the chemical marker for prostate cancer progression) hit it’s nadir or lowest point of 0.05 after the RP. Since my PSA did not go to zero my urologist recommended adjuvant IMRT radiation to the prostate bed and we followed suit for 8 weeks in May and June of 2012 with IMRT prostate bed radiation. PSA never goes below 0.05 and starts to rise within month after that. With a doubling time of about 8 months – yikes again. MY urologist referred us to UCSF cancer center and the oncologist there kept steering me towards a clinical trail of ARN509 (another hormone therapy drug) if my PSA kept rising (it did) with no real hope of a cure – he did not give us any other recommended alternatives to HT (hormone therapy). Fortunately, after much prodding from our new family physician in Santa Cruz, Dr. Rachel Abrams, we contacted Dr. Mark Renneker who consults with cancer patients in San Francisco. He referred us to Dr. Keith Block in Chicago.
Dr. Block and his team of experts was a breath of fresh air. I would highly recommend ANYONE who has been recently diagnosed with cancer to go to Keith Block and get a second opinion before moving forward with ANY cancer treatment. Anyway, Dr. B sends us to…………………Dattoli cancer center. Dr. Dattoli says with my profile, he gives me a 70 to 80 percent chance of a CURE. Guess which path we took? Much respect for the UCSF team, but a bit enraged that other options were not offered other than the ARN-509 study.
So here I sit in my bed exactly one year later since beginning the Dattoli treatment. Here is my summary to date:
1. FEAR was way to big of an influencer early on in my cancer treatment. FEAR will lead you to making wrong decisions. I am not going to let FEAR be factor in my decision making on ANYTHING EVER AGAIN.
2. Make no mistake, cancer is a business, a huge business. Millions of people rely on cancer treatment as a form of income. Every doctor is in a different segment of the cancer business – take the time and money to find a doctor that you can work with.
3. Very few oncologist (Dr. Block being a wonderful exception) have sufficient knowledge on nutritional intervention as an adjunct to traditional treatments. PROSTATE CANCER IS A FOOD BORNE ILLNESS. I know my garbage diet, coupled with excessive alcohol consumption were the major contributors to my development of cancer My experience has been that a whole food plant based diet during my treatment has helped to mitigate if not outright eliminated most of the common side effects associated with traditional prostate cancer treatments. There is NO DOWNSIDE TO NUTRITIONAL INTERVENTION in addition to standard western medicine treatment.
I was horrified of the known side effects of hormone therapy. I was horrified of the known side effects of each of my treatments! All of which include but are not limited to: fatigue, depression, weight gain, and impotence to name a few.
Whole food plant based diet forever – please talk to me about the science behind this. Chances are your doctor simply is not aware of the power of diet.
Meditation every day to mitigate and control the extreme stress and anxiety that comes along with a cancer diagnosis – It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s scientifically proven to lower stress levels.
Exercise and movement throughout the day every day. Also, easy and powerful.
Because of my DIET and secondarily because of my exercise regimen:
– I did not gain any weight – I was told to expect around a 10 pound weight gain in my mid section
– hot flashes – got them, but not as bad as advertised.
– My sex drive during hormone therapy definitely decreased however my wife and I have found ways to be intimate in different ways.
– Some fatigue, but not a lot.
– With the exception of the 8 weeks of daily radiation coupled with drugs that made me feel awful (read “nausea” for 8 weeks) I feel………GREAT. I can still surf, I can still have sex with my beautiful wife, and I have EXTREME APPRECIATION FOR EACH AND EVERY DAY that I have NEVER had before in my life, ever.
My PSA has been “undetectable” for the last 10 months. “PSA anxiety” as well the anguish of waiting for PSA test results is by far the WORST side effects of prostate cancer and the treatments I have endured the far. Having a zero PSA this past year has relieved more stress from Mindy’s and my life than I can express here in this blog.
The hormone therapy will wear off in the next few weeks, testosterone will begin flowing again in my body and we will just have to wait and see what happens. I can feel the anxiety beginning to creep up again as my next PSA test approaches. We know we are going to have to learn to live with this for the rest of my life. Cancer will be stalking me for as long as I live. Learning to cope with this and the finiteness of life has given me a greater appreciation for life that, ironically, I don’t think I would have experienced without cancer. Weird, huh?
My experience is only one of millions of victims on the cancer continuum. My life is dedicated to helping others deal with their own journey. The best way I can think of to get started is to share my experience without any filters. Please share and stay tuned…………….