A man looks up at the vast night sky full of stars.

Why I Fight

Last updated: September 2020

In 2015, the New Horizons space probe flew past Pluto. This was the result of much money, much planning, and a group of incredible scientists doing ridiculous things with mathematics. That math allowed a tiny space probe to fly by a tiny dwarf planet billions of miles away, take pictures of the planet, and send those pictures back to Earth for analysis.

Pluto has been a mystery for a long time. The Hubble space telescope took various shots of it, but because of its size, the pics were grainy shots just consisting of a few pixels. So the New Horizons probe pictures were greatly anticipated.

Sometimes the unexpected happens

The pictures that were returned to Earth blew scientists away. Pluto was assumed to be a cold, dead rock, but the shots sent back to Earth showed a dynamic place of glaciers, cold volcanoes, and a possible subterranean ocean that could be heated enough to possibly harbor some sort of primitive life. The pictures were a complete surprise to scientists, and totally changed their perception of the dwarf planet from a cold, dead rock to one of a dynamic place with changing landscapes.

Why am I writing about Pluto on a prostate cancer website? Well, as we cancer survivors navigate our way through various treatments, sometimes our lives can feel a little like a science experiment. We are told what works and what doesn't, and we are prescribed treatments that are supposed to be the most effective in treating the disease. But sometimes, the unexpected happens.

Changing my treatment plan

When my cancer metastasized, I underwent chemo treatments to hopefully shrink the fatty tumors in my abdomen, and extend my life. Much to my dismay, my tumors didn't shrink, and one actually got a tiny bit bigger. Needless to say, after the pain and sickness of going through chemo, the results were really disappointing.

After the chemo, I returned to a regimen of androgen deprivation therapy, which consisted of the drugs Lupron and Xtandi. In February, I had a CT scan done to see what was going on with my tumors. To everyone's surprise, they were mostly gone. The ADT had done what the chemo had not.

What keeps cancer survivors engaged in the fight?

The question is, why? Most survivors on ADT stay on it until eventually, it becomes ineffective. I don't do well mentally on the drugs, and I'm prone to depression, so my doses have been lower and more intermittent. I'm not an oncologist, nor am I a scientist, so I can only guess that maybe my intermittent use of these drugs has lengthened their effectiveness. But really, we have no idea. The results of my treatments definitely flys in the face of conventional wisdom.

Science keeps moving forward. We humans learn new stuff all the time. That fact keeps us moving, and it keeps cancer survivors engaged in the fight. Old ideas and treatments become obsolete, and new ones show promise as we move forward and learn more with better equipment and things like genetic testing. Maybe my results will help someone down the road. I hope so.

Because of science, we know better

Pluto was discovered in the first half of the 20th century. It was assumed that its distance from the sun made it a frozen dead rock. But now, because of science, we know better. Cancer treatments keep moving forward, and, as we learn more, maybe someday the science will come up with better results, and maybe even a cure.

My plan is to stick around long enough to see that happen. It's why I fight. I think it's why we all fight.

Thanks for reading.


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