In case you missed the first two blogs on this topic, read part I here and part II here. This is the last installment.
The afternoon of receiving news I could have cancer, I was scheduled to go back to work. Yet I could barely focus enough to drive myself home let alone sit through meetings and ponder system documentation.
I didn't want to call Chris and get him worried. I drove in silence.
I let my boss know I got some bad news; there'd be more news to follow. He was very supportive.
I went home, hugged Bandit and then sat in front of my computer. I researched prostate cancer on the Internet. Bad idea! Did you know that lower back pain and prostate cancer could mean that it has metastasized to the bone which substantial decreases the chance of survival?
I was dying. It was clear.
When Chris came home, I told him the whole story. He held me and we cried.
I couldn't believe this was happening to me. All the healthy choices I had made in life yet everything about it just didn't sound good. Besides my dad died of cancer, as did my uncle and my cousin. I assumed it was just my time. While I had planned on living a long life, maybe I just wasn't meant to.
Things seemed different: I appreciated the simple things; the stuff I previously found annoying I now found meaning in. I Facebooked words of gratitude. I had had a good life. If now was my time than so be it.
The weekend met with little sleep. As I laid in bed, eyes searching through the darkness, each ache in my lower back I felt to be the cancer eating away at my bones. I was nearly sick to my stomach with worry.
I got a blood work up on Monday.
On Tuesday I met with the oncologist to finally see what was going on with my bleeding issues. Coincidentally the nurse was an old friend ; she helped lighten my mood and had me laughing about old times - working as bill collectors for Sears. Those were the days.
The doctor reviewed all my blood test results, spanning the last five years, and then ordered more. He told me my PSA level, back from the day before, was only 0.85 which equated to about a less than 1% chance of having prostate cancer. Good news at last? Perhaps all this was nothing after all.
I left slightly encouraged.
The next day I was back at the urologist for the scoop up the penis. He was looking for any abnormalities in my bladder and kidneys. Uncomfortable kind of puts it mildly.
"Are you really going to fit the entire thing up my…" I said looking at the long tube.
"I've been told I'm well-endowed but this is crazy." At least I still had my humor.
The procedure didn't take long, less than two minutes. It felt like someone blew up my bladder like a water balloon and then put in a little bit more for good measure. It's gonna burst! I thought.
"Everything looks pristine," he said yanking the 2 foot probe out from within.
I thought the twenty-seven liters (at least that's what it felt like) of saline inside me was going to come out with it.
"Next week we'll do the biopsy and the following week we'll have the results for you," he went on. "Your PSA is excellent. Things are looking good but we really won't know conclusively until…"
"I'm sorry doc, I really have to pee!" I never had to go so bad in my life.
More waiting but a little sounder sleep and a tad less anxious.
The oncologist called: the results from an extensive blood analysis came in. I was on the cusp of having Von Willebrand disease, an asymptomatic coagulation disorder - nothing dangerous. This would explain my nosebleeds. But what about the blood in my...?
Finally the biopsy day came: I had to take the entire day off. I was given a Valium and a Percocet prior to going. Chris took the morning off to be with me, and to drive my high-as-a-kite ass there and back.
It hurt! Like a mother_____! And that was with drugs. It felt like someone went up inside me, grabbed a hold of my prostate with their fist and then squeezed. Then just as it cramped into the worse Charlie horse you could imagine…12 long needles, up the butt...one... at... a...time.
"How you doing Mr. Bettencourt?"
"Ar-argh," was all I could get out. I was biting my sweatshirt. Tears and drool spotted the table's paper lining.
The medical assistant, a tall guy in green scrubs and a goatee, began to describe to my doctor what he was seeing through the scope. "Calcification, look here. This is what you were feeling on the right side of the prostate."
Some sort of calcification...isn't that what my primary care originally said it was?
Promising yet not conclusive.
Waiting once more, this time for the results. Another full week.
Lastly the day had come: I had an afternoon lunch time appointment with him. I slotted the rest of the afternoon to be off, just in case the news was bad. I wouldn't be able to go back.
Chris met up with me. We held hands in the examining room waiting, once again. Chris, with his new iPhone, fiddled around to find something to calm me down. Knowing I like Bette Midler, he thought he'd find a song on Pandora to comfort me. However, the app selected The Rose. It just didn't seem appropriate. The volume was on full blast. He couldn't figure out how to shut it off.
"And the soul afraid of dyin'
That never learns to live."
Here I am waiting to get news whether or not I'm dying and I'm hearing one of the saddest songs in recorded history.
Finally the door burst open. It was the doctor. The first words out his mouth were, "you're fine!"
I couldn't comprehend. I was still pissed about hearing The Rose which Chris had finally been able to mute.
The doctor went on, "no need to pussy foot around with hellos and delay any further. Your results are good."
"What?" My neurons were still trying to process.
"No cancer," he explained.
Chris gave a smile. And we then sat listening to Dr. Geffin going over some multi-page analysis.
While he mumbled on about testing scenarios and benign this and benign that and calcified ejaculatory ducts. I thanked God. I was truly grateful (and still am) for having a wonderful life.
I wasn't dying, not now anyway. Maybe I will live to be 80 or 90 or even 100.
Waking out of there, I knew life to be so much better than it had been just the month before.