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Ups and Downs

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's exciting to be planning a trip and I really appreciate all the suggestions everyone has about what to see, where to go, how to get around, where to eat, in DC. If anyone else has anything to suggest, I'd appreciate it. I think you get the best ideas from people who have been there already! That is my UP!

My DOWN, is reading stats on websites. I have been hearing an ad on TV from Cancer Centers of America. A guy talks about how his prostate cancer was treated successfully there. So of course that peaked my interest. I had already been thinking about getting a second opinion, perhaps even contacting Mayo Clinic, so I went to There is lots of information there and success stories. Unfortunately no success stories about men whose cancer has spread to their bones. In fact, I found this very depressing graph:

As you see, ONLY 38% of advanced prostate cancer patients survive even four years. How scary is that? VERY! Of course they have another table comparing the survival rate of Cancer Center patients with those who do not go there:

I will be checking into this place Monday. You can enter your info on-line and they will give you a call, and even check to see if your insurance will cover treatment there. They arrange plane tickets and it says they take care of your caregiver too. When you consider 29% survival rate for 4 years compared to 49% survival rate for Cancer Center patients, it seems like the only thing to do. However, my husband is very resistant to seek medical treatment. He always has been. Perhaps if he wasn't so reluctant to go see a doctor, we'd have caught this cancer in time? But he has been seeing a urologist for benign prostate enlargement for several years, and as I have stated, last year at his check-up appointment, his PSA level was low. Although, since he started having severe urination and swelling problems in January, I'm guessing the cancer had already spread by then, anyhow. So depressing.

When he had melanoma, it was very serious. Melanoma is the BAD skin cancer, the one that KILLS if it isn't caught in time. We were lucky, although the large and deep spot on his leg (and some more minor spots on his back) had not spread to the lymph nodes and the cancer could be removed entirely, when I would tell people he had melanoma/skin cancer, I think they thought it was just a minor deal. Some skin cancers are minor, but NOT MELANOMA! We beat that battle, but this one is insurmountable. I feel like the same is true of prostate cancer. Usually prostate cancer is slow-growing, can be contained. slowed, or even cured, and I think people don't consider it as serious as they should. So when and IF I tell people hubby has prostate cancer they probably think, "Big deal!" But hubby's prostate cancer is advanced and aggressive and DEADLY.

I have actually told very few people. I have one brother, and I didn't directly tell him, but I did tell my niece, who does my hair. I made an appt. with her for next week, and it's so hard to be around someone and not talk about IT, or have to act happy all the time, so I decided to level with her. Her husband is dealing with chronic Hepatitis, he almost died a year or so ago from the chemo treatment he was taking for it, and has various other medical problems. He is 20 years older than she is, actually he is my husband's age. He is on disability, but was in the military and can use Vet's Hospitals and medical services. My niece also works for the Railroad and they have very good insurance. At the survival rate I am reading in these charts, I worry even more about our health insurance. Hubby won't be 65 for 4 1/2 more years, so Medicare will probably never kick in for him. And if he loses his job.....we're out of insurance. I did find out yesterday, after doing some checking, we do not have the LOW option coverage that I had requested when we had to change our insurance after I retired. They messed up and signed us up for the BASIC option, which will save us almost $1,000 in out of pocket expenses. That is one good thing out of all of this. So my brother called this morning to talk. Since I was still in bed, hubby took the call. I apologized. I know how hard that kind of thing is. Of course my brother is concerned and offered to help us in anyway he can. Can he pay our medical bills if we lose our insurance? Can we move in with them if we lose our house? Oh I'm being facetious--I think!

I didn't tell hubby's brother and sister-in-law in D.C. (the ones we will be staying with when we visit next month) about his cancer, and I haven't shared the news with his Dad and step mother either. I did mention it to one sister, who I used to be very close with, in a Facebook message. She never responded. That was before we had the awful news that it has spread to his bones, but you think she would say something to me, upon learning her big brother has cancer? Guess not. I have not told his youngest sister either. I know she will be very concerned, she is quite emotional, and I don't know that we need that right now. I worry that his dad will want to come and visit when he finds out, and we don't need visitors right now. So I will wait a while to tell them. I hope I have a while....

Another good thing from all this, is how much I appreciate the wonderful man I married 42 years ago. When I think about those 30+ years he stuck with me when I was morbidly obese, it brings tears to my eyes. That really is true love. He told me once, "I see beyond the fat." That was one of the rare times he even used that "FAT" word. He never made me feel fat, he made me feel sexy and desirable....ALWAYS. How special is that? And what will I do without him??? I am trying to appreciate every moment I have with him, because he really is the best guy in the whole world.

I'm growing frustrated with my sons. They were having a little minor squabble via text messaging about WHAT TIME we are going to lunch today to celebrate my daughter-in-law's birthday. So even though I didn't share these very scary statistical tables with hubby, I shared them with my two oldest sons via e-mail. I wanted them to see the seriousness of this situation and to realize what time we go to lunch is petty and unimportant. Sometimes I think they squabble (and it's always just minor squabbles, no major arguments) because the daughter-in-laws, as well as my sons, are just irritated by each other and although my sons love each other, they don't really LIKE each other and I think the daughter-in-laws actively dislike each other. It's like our government, the Democrats and Republicans. They don't disagree for any reason other than they don't like the other party, it's so silly. I wanted them to understand that they're being petty and what I really need right now is for them all to just get along. Middle son apologized, I never heard a word from my oldest son.

I took 3 walks yesterday with Lola. In the morning, youngest son and I went 2.4 miles with her. He always takes the leash when he goes along. He is very very strong (he takes after hubby much more than the other two boys), and can control Lola. We went to lunch with hubby, and after lunch, son left for the weekend. He is traveling 200 miles to the Irish Capital of Nebraska to spend it with his cousins and aunt and uncle who live there, and participate in the drunken crazy festivities of St. Patty's Day. I took Lola for another walk, since it was a beautiful day and I knew it was to be cold here today. We went to the end of the road and back, 1.2 miles. After supper, and after I had seen these disturbing stats, I needed a break, so I took another walk with Lola, we went 1.4 miles so I could get 5 miles in for the day. That last walk was a disaster. Traffic was crazy out here in the country just before it got dark, and Lola lunges at every single car, human, horse, motorcycle and other dog that we see. And we saw them all! I literally have to grab the leash with both hands, wrap it around one of my hands so she has little room to run, plant my feet and hold on for dear life until the temptation passes. We have never had a dog who chases cars before, but Lola has that urge. She sees few cars, as we live on a dead-end road, so her walks are about the only time she encounters them. Hubby thinks a choke chain will help. I'm thinking a spray bottle to spray water in her face when she tries to chase cars. I've heard spraying water in a cat's face will train them, never heard if it works on a dog or not. Any suggestions would be appreciated. She is slowly turning into a great little dog, is completely house-broken and the biting when playing is getting better. She is 10 months old, and we're hoping she calms down even more as she hits a year old. We had her spayed two weeks go, and that hasn't done much to settle her down! But I just love her to pieces and she is a great companion, when I'm alone...

Although hubby acts upbeat when I talk to him, he does very little. Yesterday I had laid out steaks to thaw, since it was a beautiful day, and he does the grilling. But he made no movement to start the grill last night, so I made something else and put the steaks back in the fridge. I don't want him to give up yet. I asked him both times I walked alone yesterday, if he wanted to go along (he was still at work when son and I went out walking in the morning). I think if he would work at being healthy, he would enjoy life more and stay strong longer, as he fights this awful cancer. I also know he has to fight the affect of those hormone drugs, which cause lethargy and depression. Cancer diagnoses alone cause depression. We bought an iPad a month or so ago, and he likes to play solitaire, so he spends much time doing that. He has started reading, and I bought him some new Dean Koontz paperbacks. He watches TV, and mostly lays on the couch or in his recliner. He gets up very early, he always has. Then he naps on and off all day long. I know his work is very physical, he does a lot of lifting and bending and is on his feet all day. His lower back hurts, and that is caused by the prostate cancer, so the lifting and bending is especially hard. So I don't push him to be as active as I know he should be, once he gets home, thinking he got lots of activity time in at work.

Time to wrap birthday presents and head out for lunch with the family. I hope they all show up and can just get along....I try to think of how I re-acted when my dad's cancer spread was eventually detected. I don't think I took it all that seriously either. Of course he was in his 80's. I fear hubby will never see his 80's.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • CANNIE50
    Oh, Pam, I am so sorry. I think of you. I am glad to hear you are using walks as a way to gather your thoughts, and your strength to cope. You are strong and you will cope, even when you don't want to.
    1797 days ago
    1798 days ago
    Water in a dog's face works or just spraying them with water works! We have between 5 to 6 dogs at a time & to keep them contained, we spray them. Now, all we have to do is just wag the spray bottle at a time & (this is mom) make spraying noises, & they mind.

    You guys enjoy your trip to DC. I've always wanted to go there.
    1800 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    A second opinion is always a good idea. Please don't give those statistics too much attention. Do what you can and don't worry about the rest.

    By all accounts, your hubby is a very good man. Re his being quiet -- he might just be needing time to digest this sudden shocking news. He may be quietly gathering his energy for the fight ... You are good to ask him to go on your walks with you -- not just for the exercise and fresh air, but it gives him time to talk if he needs to and just think if he has too. My heart is with you two. Hugs,
    1800 days ago
    I will be praying for you and the family in this stressful time. HUGS!
    1800 days ago
    1800 days ago
    I'm hoping your family will all pull together during this time and put aside their bickering, but people react to grief in individual ways. Let them all know what you need.

    My 99 year old Dad died on March 1st. My sisters and I had been feuding with our brother for years, but he showed up for the funeral events and behaved himself just fine. We all hugged each other and said good things. It's a shame we had to wait for the funeral to start getting along, but better late than never.
    1800 days ago
    Hugs and prayers for you and your family. I know there is a lot of conflicting information out there but try to focus on the positve. Right now you both still have each other so squeeze as much joy as you can out of all of these moments
    1800 days ago
  • KERRYG155
    It's really frustrating how men put off going to the doctor no matter how bad they feel. When mine finally got in he was having a stent put in the next week but now he is trying to keep up with his check ups on time and is planning on calling to check on when he is due. I hope your husband will start perking up-tell him you want to enjoy your time together so you can play together and also cry together as I know that will happen more than you want. Glad you're looking into a second opinion-that's always good. We had a gal at church with cancer from a melanoma on her toe-she had the toe removed and did chemo for a full year 2-3 times a week. It had spread to her liver, kidney and pancreas but she wasn't going to let it win. She is not totally cancer free but is in remission and getting out and about enjoying life. I'm praying that will happen with your husband be he has to be willing to put up that fight!
    1801 days ago
    emoticon to you and lots of them! You and Hubby will get through this one way or another and remember that we're always here for you when you need an ear to lean on.

    emoticon emoticon
    1801 days ago
    Oh my! You and your husband will be in my prayers. I know a little about this. My dear friend (she is actually my daughter-in-law's mother) has mutlple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) which we knew from the beginning was not curable. They gave her 2-3 years. It has been 3 years and after all the chemo and treatments she is in terrible bone pain and her marrow is wearing out. We are looking at the end stages. It is extremely difficult. Lean on the Lord my dear and take all the steps you can. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    1801 days ago
    Sending emoticon along with thoughts/prayers
    1801 days ago
    Not sure if I read the graph wrong but it looks like the survival rates for 00-04 were 49% and for 04-08 it went down to 38%. These are the advertised numbers for the CTCA and not the over all numbers for the general public. Again it is an adverstisement.

    Don't go too crazy trying to read thru and process all the info out there. Sometimes too much info can be a dangerous thing.

    Your trip sounds exciting.
    1801 days ago
    Good idea to get a second opinion. And don't forget about Cancer have all kinds of services, including phone support groups. One of our fave places to go here in the DC area is the Lake at Constitution Gardens. It is right near the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and it is beautiful and peaceful. Nice place for a picnic, or just to hang out and relax.
    1801 days ago
    One day at a time...that's all either of you can do. I know that telling my family about my cancer was the hardest part for me. Prayers for you and your family! emoticon
    1801 days ago
    You would think your husband would share the news with his own family, but apparently not. When my husband came down with stomach cancer Jan.2001, I think the hardest part was telling relatives. It was so hard for me, both mentally and physically, that sometimes I just couldn't do it. Of course when we heard from Mayo just how bad it was we were both devastated. No chemo, no surgery, only meds for the pain. In other words NO HOPE! And he was expected to live about 6 months. He died after 5 months. It's one of the hardest things to share with friends and family, because it's like "saying" it reinforces the truth of it.

    Keep up those walks. Mentally and physically they are good for you. Don't let yourself fall into a pit of depression over this. "God's will be done" was my prayer, and it is a good one, but hard to say the first time. The second time is easier.
    1801 days ago
  • MYRTLE811
    You have a lot on your plate, my friend and none of it is the food that once comforted us. You need to have some support; I know you get it here, but you do need it at home too. Continue to talk with your sons about it; it's best they know the truth of the matter and it's a good thing you are looking at things realistically. I don't know what the answers are for your husband, but it is a serious problem and you need to have the right counseling to get through this. I know that cancer centers of america does advertise, but there is also Dana Farber Cancer Center and it's known as the best in the world. There is also Johns Hopkins as well. Perhaps you could call the Dana Farber Center; someone is always there to talk with you; I know because someone was there to talk with me. Your husband does need the best treatment right now and I don't blame you for getting a second opinion.
    It's true the trip is wonderful, gets your mind off things, but you need to feel that you are getting the best for him and as hard as it is you need to talk with your husband about this. Have you shared your feelings with him at all?
    He should tell his family about his diagnosis; he also needs as much support as possible. It's an incredibly stressful time; but you will get through this as long as the two of you keep walking together as you've always done in the past.
    Hugs to you.
    1801 days ago
    You're doing your best......just hang in there!!

    In D.C. --- spend some time in Georgetown - very historic, very beautiful - very expensive. I'm sure you can find a cute cafe to have lunch.
    1801 days ago
  • BIBS4664
    Blessings and strength to you all. I am so proud of taking your walks.
    1801 days ago
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