Thursday, June 30, 2011

We need "Eye drops" to live above the negative impact of cancer

"The eyes are the windows of the soul." 

 This biblical saying reminds us how our innermost thoughts and emotions                             find expression, literally, in the blink of an eye.

How important, then, for our eyes to mirror a spirit cleansed of negativity and radiant with hope and encouragement for all whose lives we touch. 

Each morning we spend considerable time and energy on physical rituals to make ourselves presentable for the day. Yet often we rush into the world with smudges on our soul.

The legend of two wolves contains a recipe for strengthening the inner man.

An elder, teaching his grandchildren about life, describes a fight between two wolves that takes place inside each one of us. One wolf is evil and the other is good. When asked which wolf will win, the old man simply replies: "The one you feed."

Start each day with uplifting ideas to cleanse your mind, will and emotions and provide a hearty breakfast for the 'good wolf'; your spirit , your inner man.  Add a selection of inspiring music to your morning routine, encourage yourself in the Word of God and you'll see it works like eye drops to cleanse your spirit.

 Each day, Terence and I try to mediate on the good things God has done in the midst of cancer.  It's on the days we don't that cancer overtakes us with fear and worry.

"In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, right, pure, lovely, and honorable".  
Philippians 4:8 (Good News Translation)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It baffles our brains!

This prostate cancer cell can be seen.

 Micrometastatic Prostate Cancer                 
Terence's diagnoses

Some prostate cancer cells are practically homebodies; their growth is creeping, their advance local.  Other cells are mutated montsers (see left image!), and yet others are invisible (even to the microscope) and can't wait to leave the nest -- to hitch a ride on the bloodstream headed for points north. This unseen and restless cell has a name -- micrometastasis -- and they say it's lethal. 

Micrometastatic cells specialize in their stealth and deadly exit; these tiny microscopic flecks of cancer slip out of the prostate in such small sizes that they're invisible -- and impossible for doctors to detect. 

These cells are the scourge of prostate cancer; they escape unseen via the bloodstream to the lymph nodes or spine and can not be  stopped or cured.  The universal medical treatment plan?  Treat the symptoms as the cancer becomes evident.  

That could make one feel somewhat like a sitting duck.

 Terence, was diagnosed as stage 4/ 'Micrometastatic'.  Although Terence has evidence of tumors on his lymph nodes and near his spine, the doctors believe that the unseen micro cancer cells have already spread through his entire body making the cancer so far advanced it is untreatable. 

That's been our battle from the onset of his diagnoses.  The doctors (there have been 6 of them) believe the un-seen cancer is so far advanced, they never felt it necessary to treat the cancer that can be seen. 

By the way, I've never described his diagnoses to this degree before because it's so difficult to explain, especially for a layman!

Any ways, we've come to a point where we would like to treat the cancer that can be seen.  Or at least have a real discussion about it not a scientific one.  Surgery and/or radiation has never been an option for Terence because of the scientific presumption of the unseen cancer.

We're making an appointment with a new oncologist.  The diagnoses and prognosis will be the same, but we're hoping we can find a doctor who will be at least willing to FIGHT the evident cancer if we wanted to---to attack the cancer that's already present, regardless of what they believe about the unseen cancer.

I know this sounds oh, so confusing----seen/unseen/ cancer.  It could baffle ones mind- (& periodically it baffles our minds).   We usually leave the oncologists office somewhat dazed.  

This leaves us fighting cancer as a seen and unseen enemy and has at times makes us weary.

At this point we're looking for an oncologist that's more of an advocate and less of a world renown scientist.

Please pray for us as we make some necessary changes in Terence's medical care.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Check out this video:  It is very informative.  We are hoping that Terence will be able to start this treatment prior to chemotherapy.  It was recently approved by the FDA for treatment after chemo.

I want to thank all of you who sent us notes, hugs, and prayers. It really lifts our spirits when checking our messages.
Thanks, friends.

I am thinking of all of you and hoping for the best for those of you who are newly-diagnosed, in treatment, in recovery, or who are dealing with ongoing follow-up stress. Try to keep positive. Dealing with cancer is one of the most difficult things a person can go through and I truly empathize and support all the cancer fighters/survivors out there.

Love to you all. Take care.
Terence with than and Bella on Father's day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't be a walnut

I can't eat a walnut without thinking about prostate cancer.  When Terence went in for his first (and most important) DRE (A digital (finger) rectal examination.  During the examination, the doctor gently puts a lubricated, gloved finger of one hand into the rectum).  This is when the doctor felt the tumor on his prostate.  I am told it feels like a walnut.

Guys- you really need to get checked. We (women) do it every year  (Mammograms) and it saves so many lives because breast cancer can be detected at an early stage. 

Get your PSA taken. (Prostate Specific Antigen: a protein manufactured exclusively by the prostate gland); elevated levels of PSA in blood serum are associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer.  The medical field is now encouraging men to start testing at 40 instead of 50 because they are realizing it's no longer and 'old' man's disease.
The PSA test is a simple blood test to measure how much PSA a man has in his bloodstream at a given time. The PSA test is the most effective test currently available for the early detection of prostate cancer. 

Terence's DRE  revealed late stage prostate cancer.  He was 46 at the time.  The subject of PSA testng never came up in prior medical exams  and he never asked for one (we never knew prostate cancer affected younger men) - up until recently a PSA test was only necessary if you were 50 or over.

Since Terence was diagnosed I have met quite a few men in their 40's fighting late stage PCa- I know a handful that are even in their 30's.  It's obviously NOT just an old man's disease.  

Don't be a walnut. Get your PSA tested.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A bonus.

"May cause the hair on your head to grow".   I don't recall seeing this listed as a side effect from the medicine Terence is taking right now, but it seems to be! A thick head of hair- who would've guessed?

On the flip side, his hormone deprivation treatment is making it so he loses all of his body hair, so imagine how thrilled Terence is to have a nice, thick head of hair, like when he was 30!

It's silly that sometimes small things matter.  Who really cares about hair in the big scheme of things?  Oh, I don't know, I guess when you're facing cancer stuff day in and day out, you'd be surprised to find the things that can make you happy.

Like hearing birds outside of your window.
Like the blue in the sky.
Like the grand kids telling silly jokes that make no sense.
Like when the check out girl at Safeway says "bless you" when you sneeze.
Like being able to fix the ice maker.
Like waking up.
Like being able to find both socks.
Like hair on your head.

Terence still can't grow a beard any more and has lost all of his leg  and arm pit hair- but he has't let any of this bother him- the full head o' hair seems to be a bonus!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

PCa-understanding Terence's Gleason score and Diagnosis (DX)

Like staging, 'grading' levels are also assigned to prostate cancer cases. Grading takes place after a biopsy (removal and examination of tissue cores of the prostate) is done. 
The tissue core samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. 

If cancer is present, the pathologist will assign a grade 
for each of the tissue cores, (which will result in a total grade for the cancer). 

The individual tissue core grade refers to the cancer's appearance and indicates how quickly a cancer is growing.

 Pathologists grade prostate cancer according to the Gleason score, which assigns a grade (1 to 5) based on how the cancerous cells look compared to normal prostate cells.

The diagram (at left) is a Pca grading chart- 

Grade 1. The cancerous tissue looks very much like normal prostate cells.

Grades 2 to 4. Some cells do look like normal prostate cells, others do not. Patterns of cells in these grades vary.

Grade 5. The cells do not look like normal prostate cells. They appear to be scattered haphazardly throughout the prostate.

The higher the Gleason score, the more likely it is that the cancer will grow and spread rapidly.
Terence was DX'd in 2009 with a Gleason score of 9 (5+4).

  • His biopsy consisted of 12 tissue cores, all 12 were 100% cancerous.
  • 8 cores were grade 5  and 4 cores were grade 4 (= a Gleason score of 9, indicating a very aggressive cancer).

Because Terence's PSA was high (431and he has a high Gleason score, his urologist consulted with U.W. Medicine and Sloan Kettering and they determined his prognoses to be  terminal.  The DX also showed Terence had "micro- metastasis" (there were thousands and thousands of  micro-cancer cells already spread  through-out his body but not yet showing).  The bone scans did show the cancer metastasized to his lymph nodes, sternum and lymph nodes next to his spine.

 All of his information determined the direction of his medical care- which was not to have a Radical Prostatectomy (removal of the prostate glandand some of the tissue around it. It is done to remove prostate cancer) because the cancer had already advanced (spread beyond the prostate) he immediately started hormone deprivation therapy- (blocking and stopping the body's production of testosterone) which is technically medical castration.   PCa is a hormone driven cancer and needs testosterone to grow. 

Within 10 months though, the cancer began to grow even without testosterone.

After a 6 months on a clinical trial (TOK-001- it failed) the cancer started growing at a speedy rate once again. 

 So here He is now, on Ketoconazole hoping that it will slow the cancer down, (after doubling the dosage, it seems to be working somewhat).

Terence has an appointment for a new bone scan this Friday.  We are praying that it will show great results (no further spreading) and even though the cancer isn't being treated, we're hoping the tumors will do a disappearing act!!   

 Why not hope, right?