Tag Archives: radiotherapy

Pressure Drop

As the time approached for me to have my next hormone injection, I became more and more worried. After the disastrous effects of the first injection it was agreed that I should change to a different drug. Even so, I was extremely concerned that the next drug could have similar or worse effects. Quite frankly, I was terrified.

I had discussions with various people involved in my treatment but was unable to get the answers to my questions. Eventually I cancelled the appointment for the injection because I was not ready to risk being injected with 3 months worth of agony. It didn’t seem worth it. During the discussions I had with the clinical trials team, I was told that the drug was available in a one month dosage, however, it was something for the consultant oncologist to decide. A meeting was arranged and once my questions were answered, I was offered the the one month version and after weighing up the risks against the possible benefits, I decided to go ahead. 

The replacement drug, Zoladex , is implanted into the stomach and released over a period of time. So far, I am only experiencing hot flushes but I am very nervous of the possibility of the other side effects. On a positive note, apart from causing me much pain, the previous hormone drug, Decapeptyl, has been doing its job. My PSA level is down to 0.1. Normal being 0 to 2.5.

Meanwhile,I am now about two thirds of the way through my radiotherapy. I have had 13 of 20 “fractions”. It is time consuming, having to go to the hospital almost every day, but it has been largely uneventful. Apart from the machine breaking down on two occasions, one of which was when I was on it waiting for my treatment. Fortunately, that time, it was fixed quite quickly. The second time resulted in a lengthy delay for treatment and then a day off so that the staff could catch up with the backlog. The staff by the way are all absolutely fantastic. Their care and professionalism, with occasional humour, makes it easier to cope with a difficult subject.

One morning, however, on my way through the hospital to the radiotherapy department, I collapsed on a flight of stairs. Fortunately, I was only two steps from the bottom and fell against someone who broke my fall. I landed on my knees but escaped serious injury. I was surrounded by concerned and helpful people, some of the staff, who decided what to do with me. I was taken, in a wheelchair, to the Macmillan oncology ward where I was fully examined and subjected to various tests before being allowed to go for my treatment about three hours later.

It seems that the blood pressure pills I have been taking may be the culprits. I had been taking them with my breakfast early in the morning but they were kicking in with a pressure drop a couple of hours later. I now take them at night. It was also discovered during the examinations in the Macmillan ward that I now have a heart murmur. I was told to see my GP about it, which I did the next day and I have now been referred for a scan on my ticker. Thanks to the Macmillan staff for taking such good care of me.

Marked For Life

I’ve now had my planning scan in advance of receiving radiotherapy. I spent a few hours at the hospital. First, being briefed by one of the research team about what was going to happen regarding the scan and then filling in as many of the gaps in what I knew about what would happen going forward. It was totally about keeping me informed and feeling at ease with what was coming.

Next I was seen by one of the scanning team who took me through the procedure in more detail, explaining how I would have to drink water containg a dye so that they could determine if my bladder was sufficiently full and also that my rectum needed to be empty. No poo and no farty gas allowed.

I would have to be set up in a certain position and not move whilst being scanned. Provided all the criteria were met, I would then be marked with three dots which would be used to set me up in exactly the same position for the next twenty visits.

Well, the water containing the dye smelt of aniseed. It’s fair to say that the taste might be better described as anuseed. It was not very tasty. However, I drank the specified amount within the specified time and having had a bowel movement earlier, I was ready to go. Or not go.

As one might expect, they were meticulous in the set up but all was well and all the boxes were ticked and I now have three permanent dots on my lower body. Hardly noticeable really, so they don’t break my “no tattoo” rule.

After the scan I had another blood test for PSA. Perfectly straightforward. No bent needles or projectile bleeding this time. And then it was off to the Macmillan Centre for a coffee and a chat. I also booked myself a couple of massages. It was a good day and things seem to be moving forward now.

Pressure

A couple of days later, I had an assessment to see if I could go on a fitness course for people with long term illness or cancer. I failed. My blood pressure was too high. It had reached an all time high, possibly as another side effect of the hormone treatment.

The assessor said that he could not allow me to use the gym but I was at liberty to swim in the pool, should I wish to do so. It’s ok to drown, I suppose, but not fall off the treadmill. I was a bit disappointed but thought that swimming might be ok for the time being. I need to get active in some way. With that in mind, I took out a membership with a leisure centre nearer to home and received a substantial discount.

I saw my GP the next day regarding my blood pressure and am now on medication. Hopefully it is only short term. Nevertheless, in spite of the hot flushes I have been getting, I am feeling better than I have been recently.

Sad

On a sadder note, I am writing this after having just attended the funeral service of a friend. Someone that I have known since we were eleven years old. He had been very supportive of me despite having been diagnosed with cancer himself at the end of last year. A lovely man. RIP Alan.

Options

When the specialist nurse told me I had prostate cancer she advised me of the options I would be given. I could have no treatment, which involved “watching and waiting”. Basically just letting things develop before taking any action. Or, I could choose to have surgery, which would entail removal of the prostate gland. Finally, I could opt to have a combination of hormone therapy and radiotherapy. I was given information on all of the options so that I could make myself familiar with the processes before having further meetings with the consultants.

I was also told that I would need to have a urine flow test on my next visit which meant I had to hold on to my pee for a few hours beforehand. Something that has not been so easy in recent times although until now I have not had any mishaps.

Consultations

Within days I received a letter informing me I had appointments with two consultants on the same morning. The first was to discuss surgery and the second to discuss radiotherapy etc. There would be time in between for me to have my urine flow test.

On the morning of the appointments I arrived early at the hospital, had a coffee at Costa and then popped into M+S to buy a litre bottle of water. I needed a full bladder for the pee test. I then proceeded to the outpatients’ waiting room, where I put on my headphones, got out my Kindle and relaxed while also drinking plenty of water. Mentally preparing myself for what was about to come. Life could hardly be much better. Could it?

My first appointment was running late when I was called in. This one was to take me through my condition and discuss the option for surgery. I listened intently to what was being said to me but the more I heard, the less likely it seemed that I would take this option. If the guy had been a salesman, he would have been talking himself out of a deal. However, I did not have to make a decision yet and I still had to hear about the alternatives.

On leaving the consultation room, I immediately went to check in for my next appointment, only to be told that my name had already been called. I was told not to worry and within a minute or two the doctor called for me again. No worries indeed.

Following the introductions, I asked the doctor, “not wishing to be rude but will you be trying to sell me this treatment? does your budget rely on a certain amount of people having treatment?” The doctor looked a bit shocked but assured me that was not the case. My reason for asking was that in the information pack given to me previously, was an invitation to take part in a clinical trial and I was seriously considering it.

During the discussion that followed, there was a knock at the door and the doctor had to leave to attend to something else. She apologised, telling me she should not be long and then she was gone. I went back to reading my Kindle.

Probably no more than five minutes passed before the doctor returned. More apologies were made, discussions resumed and then I felt the urge to pee. Nowadays, when I get that urge, it’s not exactly an early warning. More of a demand for instant action. Whatever was said to me in that room after that moment was lost on me. I remembered none of it. All I could do was concentrate on not pissing myself.

After what seemed an eternity, the meeting was over. I asked the doctor if she could notify the specialist nurse that I was here for the flow test and that the situation was quite urgent. Fortunately for me, the nurse was close by as was the room for the test and both flowing and testing could begin. Not a moment too soon. Were they taking the piss? Maybe.

The pee test result was fine and was followed by an ultrasound scan to see what was left in my bladder. Not much, I was relieved to hear. I was free to leave. By the time I got home I realised that I could remember everything about the surgery option and very little about the radiotherapy and/or clinical trial option. I had lost my focus and had little choice but to phone the hospital and ask for another appointment. No problem, they said and I was given an appointment for the following week. I guess they are used to this sort of thing.

Consultion Take 2

During the intervening days, having decided againsy surgery, I re-read all of the literature I had on Hormone Therapy and Radiotherapy plus the clinical trial, which is known as Pivotal Boost. I took the precaution of writing down any questions I had in readiness for the appointment.

It all went very well this time and I made the decision there and then to take part in the trial. The decision is not binding and should I change my mind, I can opt out without it having an adverse effect on the treatment I then receive. I will be allocated to a group randomly to determine which specific treatment I get and in the meantime, I have to have yet more scans.