The journey of 900 miles continues with the second step.(Ersatz Chinese proverb I just made up.)
Since I posted my first blog on the diagnosis and treatment of my prostate cancer, several people have asked about the title. The explanation is easy and features math even I can do without a calculator. The Cancer Center at Lake Manassas (a marvelous place with an incredibly competent and compassionate staff) is 20 miles round trip from my house, and I made 45 such trips, so higher math (20 x 45 = 900) tells us that I drove 900 miles total for my cure. Q.E.D. and other Latin stuff like that.
The next step involved a visit to Prince William Urology, a practice famous (or is it infamous) for another doctor in the practive, Dr. Sehn re-attaching John Bobbitt’s member after his unfortunate encounter with a kitchen knife wielded by Lorena. Can we say ouch? Ironically, as I studied the stories about the event hung around the walls of the office (no kidding). There I met Dr. Sejahdi and his staff. We were going to get to know each other uh, intimately in the next few days. I didn’t know what was involved in the diagnosis, but I did know I was going to say ouch more than once, and possibly quite loudly. than in a whisper.
I showed up for the test a couple of days later, and was greeted by a friendly nurse who assured me that she had presided over thousands of these test and that it wouldn’t hurt for long. I am a big chicken when it comes to pain, so I asked if they’d put me out for the procedure. She laughed. “It won’t take that long, and it will be over before you know it.”
I was skeptical, but it turns out she was right. I won’t go into the details of the tests except to say they involved instruments in places where the sun don’t shine. Since I was sedated and the beneficiary of a strategically placed local anesthetic, I felt discomfort and pressure rather than pain. Still, these diagnostic tests were by far the most unpleasant part of the experience until I experienced side effects late in the treatment and a month after treatment stopped. And the tests lasted about three minutes each. Still, lying in an awkward position, uncertain as to what would happen next, I felt every second of those three minutes.
I thought it would take a few days to get the results, but as soon as I was dressed, Dr. S. came in with the results of the diagnosis. He handed me a piece of paper with a color scan of the area in question and said, “Your Gleeson numbers for the cells in this area are 7 and 8. If they were both 7’s, we’d do what we call ‘watchful waiting.’ But I would recommend radiation in your case. Your cancer is non-aggressive, which means that without treatment, you’ll live ten to fifteen years more. With treatment, 30 to 40. The choice is yours.”
As he delivered this news, I rubbed my eyes, which were itching from spring allergies. He reached over and put a hand on my shoulder. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” I said, and I was, right then. I felt a sense of calm, particularly with the prospect of living until 106, so I said, “Let’s do it. And you’re all invited to my 106th birthday party. I expect to see you there.” Talk about a no-brainer.
I really felt all right, but I think I was in a state of shock. My dad had just finished treatment for colon cancer, a much more serious condition than mine, and I would be going to the same place, the Cancer Treatment Center at Lake Manassas. He received radiation and chemo, while I would just have radiation. It looked like a cakewalk that April day, but that was more like the beginning of a marathon in the mountains for me, as it turned out.
Next time: Reactions and Understandings