The expectations are high on the part of everyone to have a good time. Friends are gathered, food is shared, and presents unwrapped. Then of course there are the songs: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas or my particular favourite Ella Fitzgerald singing The Christmas Song. And how can you fail with Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra? They all celebrate the holidays, but often with a sense of yearning. Click here to read on.
I’ve just had some pretty good news and that’s what all the cheering is about, but it needs a little context, so bear with me.
I celebrated my 65th birthday a couple of weeks back. My wife and I threw quite a party and whooped it up with as many old and new friends as we could muster.
I was lucky enough to assemble a magnificent band mostly made up of friends from my days in the music business. I still play guitar and sing when the mood takes me, and it certainly took me that night. Even though most of the band were my friends I firmly believe that musicians should get paid for playing so I gave all of them a small sum of money to say thank you. They tried to refuse but I said take it and why not give it to a prostate cancer charity. Read on…
Celebrities talking about prostate cancer can only help boost awareness.
They became close friends in the early seventies just as fame beckoned and bonded over a love of music, football, and partying. It’s sometimes been a fractious friendship, but it remains one to this day. It’s a fifty-year story of two music legends who share many milestones. If you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about Rod Stewart and Elton John. Read on…
September is tremendously important and not just because it’s the title of perhaps the best song ever recorded by the magisterial Earth Wind and Fire. Yes, I know others will argue for Boogie Wonderland, but September suits my purpose right now.
For those who don’t know, September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Eyes glaze over, man keeps scrolling. Wait, not so fast…
When I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer a doctor told me if he could prescribe exercise as a pill, he’d write the script for every one of his patients. He was making no claim that keeping fit would cure my cancer but indicated that it would equip me with some physical and emotional resilience if times got tough.
Let’s take a look at complementary and alternative therapies
A reader, commenting on one of my previous articles, suggested I try American Ginseng, which he thought might help overcome some of my hormone therapy side-effects.1 He was suggesting its use purely as a palliative and not as a cure.
Both these examples can be seen within the context of complementary and alternative therapies or complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) as they are more commonly called. These also include homeopathy, osteopathy, meditation, dietary supplements, acupuncture and many more. Some of these are offered at the cancer center I attend.
A quick note to say that my visit to the oncologist last week was very satisfactory. My PSA level is now 0.03 making my cancer virtually undetectable. My next hospital appointment is not for 6 months. Obviously, the Unwelcome Guest can make an unwelcome return, but this is good news by any standards.
My second article has been published on www.prostatecancer.net. It looks back at my radiotherapy treatment and can be found by clicking here: https://prostatecancer.net/living/preparing-for-radiotherapy/
Things are changing at The Unwelcome Guest. My scribblings have been picked up by Health Union, a US company. They publish a number of cancer related websites and are employing me as a freelance writer on ProstateCancer.net.
I’m happy about this development as I’m hoping to reach many more readers. The downside is that contractually I’m not allowed to post my blogs elsewhere. If you want to keep up with my cancer capers, you’ll need to track me down at the Unwelcome Guest’s new home.
I’ll post links to give you a heads up when a new article appears and if I feel a particular blog isn’t suitable for Health Union then I’ll publish it here.
This is all very new and if anything changes, I’ll let you know.
I really do appreciate you reading my stuff and just in case anyone is wondering, I’m feeling fine.
All the best
Ok calm down I’m not about to peg out, but I’ve just discovered that my PSA reading is up rather than on the smooth glide path down that I was counting on. I was at my quarterly meeting with the oncologist at Guy’s Cancer Centre when I was given the unwelcome news that the Unwelcome Guest has made a slight return.
But let’s put this into some perspective. The PSA blood test is a notoriously crude measurement but just about the only means available to check the state of prostate cancer particularly post-prostatectomy or in my case post-radiotherapy.
When the Unwelcome Guest was first diagnosed, my PSA level stood at 5.03. I was then put on hormone therapy and the dive down started. Within a month my PSA stood at 2.61. Six months later, in June, it was 0.8. Following radiotherapy last Autumn, a test in December revealed my PSA to be virtually undetectable at 0.07.
For it to be entirely undetectable it has to fall to 0.03 or lower and that of course was what I was hoping for, but the Unwelcome Guest had other ideas. Now I’m told the little bugger has bounced back up ever so slightly to 0.1. In itself this may not be serious, and doctors recognise something called the PSA bounce, with the numbers fluctuating, following radiotherapy. Hopefully this will correct itself, but if it continues to climb and were it to reach 2.0 then other medical options would have to be explored.
I can’t deny this was something of a shock as I was pretty convinced that while still on hormone therapy and following radiotherapy to misquote Yazz and The Plastic Population ‘The only way was down.’ But that’s the Unwelcome Guest for you; full of little surprises.
Prostate cancer that comes back is called a recurrence and happens in 1 in 3 men after treatment for early prostate cancer, but we are a long way from that and anyway if those are the odds on the table I’ll take ‘em.
My next appointment at Guy’s cancer theme park is in September and as you might imagine I’ll be paying pretty close attention to the scores on the doors. In the meantime, I’ll be doing what I’ve learnt to do since Autumn 2017 when I was diagnosed and live in the moment. Nothing bad is going to happen to me in the short term, we have a wonderful holiday to look forward to and then come September we’ll take a look at the lay of the land.
The war on cancer
Last week the newspapers were back to declaring war on cancer. Let’s hope it’s more successful than the war on terror. But this was welcome news; a new cancer hub known as the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) is set to be located in south London close to the Royal Marsden Hospital. Researchers there will look at new ways to stop cancer cells from evolving and resisting chemotherapy. One of their goals is to ‘herd’ cells together and stop them from flourishing much in the way that drugs now control HIV. They are calling it the world’s first Darwinian drug discovery programme.
Senior scientists at the ICR argue that the traditional use of ‘shock and awe’ chemotherapy against cancer has failed because too often it has helped fuel ‘survival of the nastiest’ competition and evolution among cancer cells.
Dr Olivia Rossanese, head of biology, said: “We’re especially excited by the potential of APOBEC inhibitors, to slow down evolutionary diversity and drug resistance, and ensure our existing cancer drugs work for patients for much longer.”
Inhibitors are being designed to stop the action of a molecule called APOBEC to reduce the rate of mutation in cancer cells, slow down evolution and delay resistance. These drugs should become available within the next ten years.