Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Do you listen and trust your Doctor's too?
When we moved back to Oklahoma, Dave became the CEO of a non-profit company. It was very stressful, managing a large staff, caring for and providing safe housing for adult client's with disabilities, he became sedentary in a desk job and proper nutrition wasn't on his mind.
I think most of us who have enjoyed fairly good health, to some degree, understand that we live with a sense of a carefree, invulnerable, wellness type of attitude. With Dave's biology degree, and from being a Registered Respiratory Therapist, he learned to trust science. He was a fairly good patient and did what his doctors told him to do. And maybe you can relate, he did what they said with the exception of limiting or removing alcohol consumption and seriously changing his diet. A typical American patient.
In 2010, he was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Dave was and odd patient, men haven't been studied like women have for bone lose but his Doctor told him for example, if he is on a boat, and hit an odd wave, he could break his back. They put him on Fosamax. A couple of years later, I realized he wasn't being prescribed Fosamax properly and at the time, one year on, one year off, was the recommendation. After realizing his Doctor failed him, I began to research bone loss in men and found that low testosterone could be the cause. His Doctor listened, agreed, and began treating him. He began to reverse his bone loss until his PSA began to rise.
In 2012 Prostatectomy surgery followed and the painful recovery ensued. We heard the term "cure", if his PSA didn't rise in five years, we had hope. We listened to his Doctors. About a year later, we did a voluntary routine full body scan that revealed some odd findings, and further testing confirmed the prostate cancer was still active. We also found that he had a lesion on his kidney. After a failed biopsy, they concluded routine quarterly monitoring of the PSA and not to worry about the kidney, future monitoring was wise.
In 2014, amidst changing employment, Dave suffered a heart attack. We decided to go back into business for ourselves. Being your own bosses minimized the stress of keeping a board of directors and staff happy. It has it's own stress but one we are very familiar with and that we honestly prefer.
Building on the construction experiences he has had from his past, Dave realized that property inspections would be a natural fit. Then in 2018, his PSA numbers were rising and 40 days of radiation was recommended. He didn't miss a beat. He worked straight through his treatments.
In 2019, Dave began having issues breathing. He was referred to an ENT who looked into his nose and then left the room. When he returned, he told Dave that he had a mass in his nose. Worse case scenario, it was melanoma, it was most likely a type of cancer and surgery was necessary to remove and biopsy it. His Oncologist told him that more radiation was recommended. The diagnosis was a plasmacytoma. As this cancer progresses, this type becomes multiple myeloma. We were shocked. He had it surgically removed and 25 more targeted radiation treatments followed. Once again, he didn't miss any work.
I realized that there had to be some type of gene mutation to consider, and yes, he was CHeK2 positive. Of course, they don't know much about it. But I did read that it makes him more sensitive to radiation. When I asked the Oncologist about it, she said it didn't matter. This is the protocol.
Do you listen to yourself? I'm getting better at it. I'm tired of not having the conversations I know now I should have had with our Doctors. More radiation because that is the protocol? When did it become okay in America to not critically think about the patient sitting in front of you that has developed more cancers and a metastasis in your care? These are the thoughts circulating in my head. But this is Dave's health, his battle and his choice.
In 2020, Covid hit, business was non existent and there was not a PPP loan available for our situation. We stayed away from medical care because we were as frightened as the rest of the Country. Dave missed his routine PSA testing. We were listed as "essential" and business began to pick up. It wasn't until Dave misstepped over a gas hose, broke his humerus and was forced into medical care, did we find his PSA was rapidly doubling.
And that little nothing on his kidney, was something, clear cell renal cancer. Of course, we decided a second opinion was important and in the middle of a pandemic, we were driving into the current Covid hotbed in Houston. He was a good patient, due to his comorbidities of previous cancers and a heart attack, they felt he couldn't undergo traditional kidney surgery and chose to ablate the mass.
Last stop for rising PSA's in prostate cancer is Androgen Depravation Hormones. It works, for a bit. Dave's Urologist went from saying 'you are to young for that', 'I don't want to put you through it', to ordering Lupron on the spot. And then we began to do the research.