Monday, February 16, 2009


From the March 2008 Atlantic Monthly "What's Your Problem?" Q&A column by Jeffrey Goldberg:

Is life after college really as monotonous and depressing as it looks?
--Ben, Manhattan, Kan.

Dear Ben,
No. It's worse! Just kidding. It's actually a joy. Except for the prostate exams.


phonegranny said...

Hi! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have a couple of questions for you. Is is called Salvage Radiation? Can you share what the radiation treatment was like? And can you share the side effects you experienced? How long did the treatment last? And when did you start feeling like your old-self? I know that's alot! Blessings, Granny

Replicant said...

Hi Granny.

Yes, what I had is called salvage radiation, which is an attempt to rescue a patient from a failed primary attempt at a cure. In my case, I had surgery. My PSA fell below 0.1 initially, but then started to rise.

I had about two months of treatment, 5 days a week. The treatments themselves are very easy--basically just lying still for a few minutes. No pain or sensation of any kind, except boredom. I actually looked forward to my visits, chatting with the therapists, getting the VIP treatment..

Everyone is different--keep that in mind--but in my case I had some mild rectal irritation. This manifested itself in some mild diarrhea (easily controllable with over-the-counter meds) and painful bowel movements. I got a prescription for a topical foam called Proctofoam that took care of the bowel movement pain. Within 6 weeks or so after the end of treatment, I didn't need the Proctofoam.

Some intermittent diarrhea, never too serious, persisted for a few months, and then I felt pretty much like my old self. I still have to watch out for overdoing favorite foods like refried beans and beer, though--things like that cause a lot more gas than they used too.

I didn't notice much fatigue that I could attribute to the treatments, I didn't have any urinary symptoms except for some very mild and very temporary urgency, and sexual function was not impacted (although this can be a delayed side effect). The side effects from surgery were much more pronounced than those from radiation.

If you look backwards in this blog, you'll see where I document my experience with salvage radiation in detail.

Best of all, knock on wood, it seems to have worked. Only time will tell, of course, but for now my PSA is back to less than 0.1.

Thanks for your questions--let me know if I can be of further help.