The Journey

So, one year ago, Jan. 12, 2016, I had a visit with my personal physician (and dear friend) Dr. Don Sanders for a check up about some concerns I had. Seemed like a normal visit, he said I probably had an enlarged prostate (whatever that was) and prescribed a medication to help with my problem. “Just another day in the aging process,” I thought.

Not good

About a week later, I get a call from Don about 9 pm. He sounded concerned, said he got the results of my PSA test (whatever that was) and I needed to see a urologist…ASAP! He said my PSA was fine a couple of years ago, but now it was like 140.6. Ok, so what does that mean? Any number over 4 indicates possible cancer!

Within a couple of days, I’m seeing Dr. Schultz, now my urologist and newest best friend. He performs a DRE exam, which I had no idea what that was until it happened. Not fun. He said my prostate was enlarged on both lobes, and with my PSA number, a biopsy was in order. So, it’s scheduled for the following week. The biopsy is performed. No fun. A few days later I’m informed I definitely have cancer, my Gleason Score (whatever that was) was 10. If that was my score in gymnastics, I would be perfect. In this case, it means it was the worse score I could get. I don’t have the normal, slow growing, prostate cancer, I have very aggressive, high risk, prostate cancer, most likely spread outside the prostate.

A few more days go by and I’m having a PET/CT scan and bone scan. Luckily, no bone cancer, however, the cancer has metastasized to my lymph nodes, pelvic and periaortic/pericaval node areas. Not good.

Off to see my new best friend, Dr. Michael Meshad, who becomes my oncologist. As he told my kids, I have “big boy” cancer. Surgery is most likely out of the question since the cancer has escaped the prostate and full body, systemic treatment would be in order. In other words; chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation were in order. It’s been so awesome how my Doctors have consulted with each other and agreed to the best course of treatment for my condition. Dr. Meshad said treatments were going to take a while, but he’s of positive mind they can delay the spread of the cancer for a few years. Can’t cure it, but I believe it was Dr. Ellingwood who said, “they can put the monster in the corner”.

Early March 2016 comes aground and I begin chemo. Side effects are no fun and I learn my PSA has risen to 341.9! But, it’s not done, eventually reaching 350! By the end of chemo in mid June, the chemo has been working, but my PSA is still 125.6 when hormone therapy begins. Miraculously, after 2 more months, PSA is down to 0.3!

New best friends

So late September comes along and it’s time for radiation therapy to begin. I thought I had been told it would be 5 days/week for probably 6 weeks. Well, I now go to my new best friends, Dr. Ellingwood and Dr. Weinacker and find out it’s 9 weeks for the prostate and 5 weeks more for the lymph nodes. Thought I’d be seeing them for 30 radiation treatments. Nope, it’s now 70! With prep days and holidays, we’re talking about 16 weeks.

I see Dr. Ellingwood or Dr. Weinacker every Monday and review how I’m doing. Got to say, both are great guys, they have an awesome practice and I couldn’t feel more comfortable with the care I’m getting. I saw Dr. Weinacker last Monday and when he looked at me he said “you’re still here”. Told him “yep, you won’t let me leave yet”. Saw him again this Monday, he said he guessed he’d have to pry me out of his office. Told him not to worry, I’d get out after my last treatment on Friday! I’ve learned most patients don’t have as many treatments as I’ve had, but I’m tolerating everything pretty well. The worst part has been the fatigue. No matter that I exercise 3 days per week, I’m just worn out. Hormone therapy shuts down the production of testosterone and testosterone helps build muscle mass. Of course, testosterone is what fuels the cancer growth, so it has to go. The only recourse for the muscle weakness is to work against it.

January 20th is my last day of radiation treatments, except for the ongoing hormone therapy. January 20th, chemo and radiation are done! A few days past one year I will have been through the worst of the battle. The monster has been put in the corner and I will be able to get back to some sense of normalcy. Been busy with treatment, but not working is going to drive me nuts. Retirement is not going to work for me. Just get bored too easily. Finding a job is the next order of business.

I can’t say enough good things about my doctors and their support staffs. Dr. Sanders, Dr. Schultz, Dr. Meshad, Dr. Ellingwood and Dr. Weinacker, and your staffs, I THANK all of you from the bottom of my heart, and beyond considering you my doctors and health care providers, I now consider you my friends.

The cancer may not be cured, but the monster is in the corner…and I’m not throwing in the towel. The fight isn’t over.

Thanks again,

Frank Wayne Hall, Sr.

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.

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