I'm young, as far as this disease goes. Diagnosed shortly before my 44th birthday (whoopee!). Robotic surgery (more on that later) shortly after my birthday. At first, all seemed fine...PSA dropped to less than 0.1. But a few months later it was 0.2, and then 0.6 just before Christmas. Merry Christmas, your cancer is still there...
I grew increasingly anxious. But the problem was, I didn't have all the facts. Here's what I thought my situation was:
Seminal vesicle invasion--unknown
Now, with those indicators, and a rise in PSA within 1 year--it looked like my recurrence was distant. No longer curable. Time for hormones--at 44, I was looking at a drastic change in my personal life.
But I had two crucial facts wrong. My oncologists (radiation and medical) confirmed that I had POSITIVE margins--cancer extended to the edge of the tissue that was removed and it would be a safe bet that it went further than that. So that provided a logical, and much more optimistic explanation for the rise in PSA--there was cancerous tissue left behind. If that's the case, a cure might still be possible, by radiating the prostate bed.
And, the seminal vesicles were known to be free of cancer. Again, good news, and another slight nudge to the "local" end of the local vs. distant disease question.
Of course, there are no guarantees. I could have localized AND distant disease. But my outlook is much different.
I'll start IMRT this week. It's the latest thing in radiation oncology. The radiation can be focused very precisely, and the amount of radiation can be varied and exquisitely controlled by the oncologist.
I got tattooed last week. One right above my crotch, and one on the side of each hip. Lasers will be centered on those tattoos each time to insure the radiation goes where it should.
Next will be a dry run, where X-rays will be taken with me in position as if I'm going to receive treatment. The X-Rays will be compared to a CT scan done last week, to insure everything lines up.
And then the treatments will begin--15 minutes each morning, 5 days a week.
I'll let you know how it goes.