Calling time

It’s annoying when they don’t call on time. Yesterday, at 4pm, I was expecting my six monthly check up call from the oncology department at Guys. A week ago, my blood had been drawn at the Cancer Centre to check my PSA level. Having been off any form of treatment for 18 months, was my PSA set to rise?

Following three years of hormone therapy and two months of radiotherapy my PSA had stood for more than a year at a highly acceptable 0.02. My prostate cancer was barely detectable. At 3.55 I was in a mildly anxious state waiting to find out my fate. By 4.40 no one had called so I took the dog out for a stroll to alleviate the stress.

Walking up the road, the phone goes, and I duck into a side road pulling Bucket after me to find out the latest instalment of Jim’s cancer capers. In short, the news is good. My PSA has increased, a small amount, and now stands at 0.23. The lady from the Cancer Centre described this figure as ‘magnificent’ which rather surprised me but hey, I now have magnificent cancer or rather lack of cancer. At diagnosis my PSA was 5.03.

This time they also measured my testosterone level which is not something I’d had done before. The hormone therapy reduces testosterone in men to something like zero which as you can imagine produces some irritating side effects. (hot flushes and loss of libido etc.) Testosterone is like catnip to cancer, hence the need to irradicate it for a while.

My testosterone level is now a plucky 18.6 which meant absolutely nothing to me until I learnt that in men the range is generally somewhere between 9 and 30. Of course I’ve no idea what my level was prior to my treatment but it seems to be in a relatively good place.

The brutal reality is that my PSA level will probably continue to rise, but it’s impossible to say how far and how fast. Once it hits 2.0 some of the dreary treatments may have to recommence but now, I have another six months until my next call and I’ll be putting cancer to the back of my mind. It’s something I’ve become rather good at. But next time Cancer Care at Guy’s, can you please respect the calling time.

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