Aggressive Prostate Cancer without Symptoms

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Will Murphy
This (retired) journalist usually writes about people other than himself. Because conditions warranted, I decided to answer friends and family who were concerned about my health. I just found out the most devastating part of my prostate cancer diagnosis, that it was a rare surprise case. Let me tell you and yours how it feels. One early morning (middle of the night) I sat up and wrote this in one-take.

The Maples and Prostate Cancer

I am a fairly emotional person. Apparently I display it only through my work. Now, that I think about it, all of my feature reporting for TV and Radio has been based on what I feel must be right. Then I would find someone with those virtues and extol them. These found me.

Just the other day as I got out of my car a man (and his wife) came towards me from their position of waiting. I thought it might be for a bus, but they were not in the correct spot. Maybe he would ask. Then he told me they were waiting for a taxi to “go see the maples.” My first impression was that they were Japanese. He corrected me. “We are Korean, visiting from Chicago. We came by the big GreyHund last night. I have been here 35 years and no learn English.”

I convinced him his language was fine. I did not tell him he was miles away from the color of “the maples.”  Then the taxi came to take them back downtown. They could not get a hotel there last night since they had no credit card.  Somebody referred them five miles out of the center city for a fifty-dollar night. We met; I did not really help. I did not give directions miles away to the colorful trees. But he felt the need to talk about it. He came to me with her in tow. Then they were gone.

At their elderly age they were ready to get up and go to see things. They had no plan. They just went. They had a purpose. And they just went. Happily.

This was the same day I went… to hear the beginning of my prognosis for prostate cancer which has become very aggressive since we first took note in early December, last year.  Since then, there has been a plan and a purpose but it did not seem obvious to me. Every three months I receive a hormone shot to maintain the speed of the cancer growth into the lymph system.  Happily, the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test shows a great reduction in numbers indicating cancer. But that is almost too late.

Spreading Prostate Cancer

A full-body bone scan early this year indicated the presence of lesions in my liver, possibly in my pelvis, and maybe more. A month ago it was determined with a new MRI that a major growth on my left femur just below the hip was the reason for a major complaint while attempting walking. That curtailed my part-time position as a tour-guide inside the Lucas Oil Stadium for a while.

Immediate surgery to “burn” the tumor off the bone with RFA (radio frequency ablation) proved it was the same cancer which had traveled from the prostate.

Prostate Cancer without Early Symptoms

Confirmation is one thing. Consternation is another. We are advised as older males to be constantly vigilant for the prostate problem.  It can arrive in young males too. It is the most prevalent cancer in males, after skin cancer. Prostate cancer can start with no symptoms. Apparently mine started without me. It was immediately labeled aggressive and has been so. I have been told not all cancers are detected. I have one which slipped through.

No Cure just Maintenance

The doctors mentioned many months ago that there would be no cure, just maintenance. Maybe two to five years of maintenance. They mentioned it again this past week… along with the fact that several other methods could be used, including some new ones just on the market. Each month there will be a shot (Xgeva) to maintain the bone loss (which allowed the tumor outside the femur) plus another attempt to curtail the growth in the lymph system.

Many friends constantly ask the regular question “what did the doctor say?” This, then, is an effort to compile the words he said along the way. Mostly it has been a wait and see procedure. Now, it will be a more aggressive approach to an aggressive cancer.

For now, there is no radiation or chemo planned but that may change.

I am an emotional man who lives alone, but I am not lonely. I have many friends around the world. And I have my family here in Indianapolis, my hometown.  On the way home from the doctor I became suddenly aware of my future while listening to one of my favorite styles of music. It prompted many tears… of realization of how good I have it with my medical treatment.

I have a plan. I am pleased, too, that I met that Korean couple just passing through Indianapolis to see “the maples.”  I will continue to follow this adventure of mine, as far as it goes

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