Irony of Drug Treatments, My Rhythm of Life
I say irony because when I was 45 years old, my employer at the time sent me for a medical. The outcome was that I was borderline clinically obese, and my blood pressure was so high that I’d be on drugs for life if I didn’t do something about it naturally.
I guess I should have known I was overweight when my kids started calling me Mr. Blobby (an extremely rotund character from a UK TV show, Google it).
Changing my lifestyle
Now I’ve always hated taking drugs of any kind, and I’ve generally struggled through when I’ve had aches and pains and very rarely resorted to seeing a doctor or taking pain relief. So I was not going to be dependent upon blood pressure drugs for the rest of my life, no way!
That’s when I made some lifestyle changes. I’d always exercised, playing table tennis to a high standard, as well as a bit of social squash, but clearly that wasn’t enough. I substantially reduced my salt intake and reduced my alcohol intake, but the biggest step was taking up running.
Now I’d run a little bit in my 30s, but nothing serious, and here I was joining an informal running club that 3 years later I would be one of the founding committee members of when we became a full-blown affiliated running club.
It helped that I was actually quite good at running, and I ran some seriously decent times in my mid 50s, including a 3:23 marathon. I actually qualified for the London Marathon with an over-60s-good-for-age time the year before I was diagnosed in May 2017.
Running helped catch my prostate cancer
Amazingly, if I weren’t a runner I’d probably be dead by now, because it was only being a runner that led to my diagnosis.
In 2017, I was training to run one of the world’s toughest road ultra-marathons, which was to take place on June 4. In February 2017, I ran a half marathon and experienced quite severe pain in my groin. It was okay, though, because I was a runner and we run through pain, as that’s what we do. A few painkillers would let me keep on training.
Now, bear in mind that I had a total aversion to taking drugs of any kind, and you’ll realize that the pain was pretty severe, and I’m a stubborn idiot for trying to run through it.
Getting the pain checked out
In April 2017, I ran the Paris and Manchester marathons a week apart, but then I was really struggling with the pain. So I made an appointment to see a sports injuries doctor, and the rest is history. The groin strain was stress fractures of my pelvis caused by prostate cancer that had spread throughout my skeleton from pelvis to skull. They think I’d had it 10 years completely without symptoms.
Just imagine if I weren’t a runner. How much farther would it have spread if I hadn’t had that groin strain and been diagnosed? Just imagine how that could have impacted my life expectancy.
Turning to drug treatments
My life changed in many ways, but one of them was dependency on drugs. I started on Bicalutamide with Prostap injections into my stomach. Initially the Prostap was a monthly dose but then went to quarterly. I also started an Abiraterone (Zytiga) and Prednisolone steroids and thus, my life was dictated by the rhythm of drug taking.
I find that Zytiga has to be taken on an empty stomach and then I can’t eat for an hour. I used to take them mid-morning, but that started impacting on living life. If we were out for a walk and fancied coffee and cake, I had to miss out because of the drugs. So, eventually, that changed. I now wake up with an early alarm, take the Zytiga, and then doze or get up and an hour later and eat breakfast, taking the steroid with food.
Beats the alternative
Due to longterm hormone therapy, my bones have thinned, so now I have a Zometa infusion every 3 months to stave off further bone thinning.
I’ve gone from being someone who despised taking drugs to someone totally reliant on them. I absolutely hate it, but it sure beats the alternative!
Were you aware of family history of cancer, prior to diagnosis?