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Advanced Cancer Spotlight: Cancer Hijacked My Life — Part IV

In part four of his story, community member Coachestep talks about deciding to go on disability after coping with the brutal side effects of treatment and facing depression.

Proving disability

Near the end of my Taxotere infusions, the SSD sent me to see a crazy doctor to determine if I was faking all this and could I possibly work etc…

By this time, my fingernails had started to die and were bleeding around the edges and a green pus would ooze out. The pus smelled like rotten flesh. So all ten of my fingernails were dying and Dr. Jamil said they would come off eventually.

Well, near the end of my testing session to see if I was crazy and a liar I had to sit down at the interviewer’s desk for some final questions. As I placed my hands on her desk I noticed that all ten were bleeding as green pus leaked from underneath and blood hit the top of her desk. Amazingly enough, that was the end of the interview as she escorted me out front to my wife.

As I think back on my time in chemo, there were many visits to the ER and the cancer center. Could not possibly count the number of times I puked. Diarrhea was a constant, and when I did not have to run, I had constipation so bad, I would have to strain my guts out. I even burst some hemorrhoids. Oh, I also had numerous adverse reactions to certain drugs they would try on me.

Taking a break from Taxotere

At the end of the Taxotere infusion treatments, my PSA was finally below four. I think the PSA went down to 3 point something, 0-4 considered where you need to be.

We took a break following the Taxotere considering how hard it had been on my body and my emotions. I was still battling excessive fatigue, could not eat certain things, I suffer from bad chemo fog or chemo brain, neuropathy has taken over my hands and my feet. Little or no feeling in my feet has left me with little control and I fall frequently as I do not know where my feet really are. Balance is a huge issue as well.

My eyesight continued to worsen at the time and still continues to get worse.

All the fillings started to fall out of my teeth just after I had completed the Taxotere infusions. My teeth turned a dirty brown color and I have developed a complex about my teeth. Currently, I have two teeth that just fell apart in a crumbling manner. I have to use toothpicks now on a daily basis.

Due to all the pain medication I take, I can no longer drive. I love to drive and always have. I love to ride motorcycles, side by sides, four wheelers, and SUV four wheel drives. I loved the outdoors and hunting.

I was forced to go on long-term disability followed by SSD and finally forced into a disability retirement from the school system.

Depression became a fact of life

Depression had become a fact of life for me. Due to the lack of ability to work, I feel useless. Due to the sexual chemical castration, I can no longer have sex with my wife and I feel I am no longer a true man. My family has suffered from the loss of pay. Going from a full teacher and full coach’s pay to SSD, long-term disability, and retirement, my family suffers greatly. We struggle to make the bills and put proper food on the table.

A couple months after ending Taxotere, my PSA numbers began to climb up beyond the 4 range. When they reached 4.65 Dr. Jamil said, “We can wait and see or we could go ahead and start you on steroids and Zytiga. What do you think?”

“We haven’t waited on anything before, why would we wait now?” I questioned. “Let’s keep attacking this thing!”

A new plan of attack

So now we are using 1000 milligrams of Zytiga daily with one steroid in the morning and one in the evening. I am proud to report at present my PSA is down to 0.4

One other thing, we switched from the Lupron shot to Vantas Implant under my arm for 6 months. Histerlin is the main medicine in that. We also added Calcuim with Vitamin D along with a Zomati infusion to strengthen my bones. I had a terrible reaction to the Zomati the first time and ended up in the ER, but it has not happened again. I love my doctors, nurses, prayer warriors, friends, family, and most of all my caregiver who is always there for me, my wife, Cristy!

Read the full series from coachdestep:

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Scoofer
    2 weeks ago

    Duane Estep, my heart goes out to you for all you’ve had to endure in this horrible cancer journey. Thank you for sharing your pain and suffering so transparently. I’m an end stage cancer patient myself and have been through some of your experiences as well. I’d like to encourage you with a couple of facts I’m sure you know as a believer in Christ. God is sovereign and He’s at work bringing glory to Himself through all you endure (a point that some people cannot even conceive), and that He has a plan for you and your family’s good and not your evil. I know that it often feels as though our lives have been highjacked, but instead I believe that since the fall of mankind our lives have always been purposed for this end and it’s just being revealed to us now. Much love and respect to you, sir.

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