Monday, January 30, 2017

Decent string of workouts and next visit to Sloan Kettering

The side effects from the radiation seem to be mostly gone.  I have gotten sick twice this month, although neither was that severe.  Each illness cost me a couple days of training or skiing, plus one (total) day of work, but neither was horrible.  I did get a flu shot this year plus a pneumovax, so I don't think either illness was the flu.  I'm not sure if the illnesses were related to the radiation or not, but I'm guessing they were.

My typical goal for CrossFit is to average a little more than 3 classes per week, year round.  So, that means some weeks of 4 or 5 days, because some weeks will be inevitably lower than that.  Regretfully, coming back from the radiation has been a bit slow, and I have not made it more than 3 times this entire month.  With my workout tonight, I will be at 12 CF workouts for the month - a couple below my goal, but not too bad.  Part of the problem was intense soreness as I returned after the radiation.  There were multiple weeks where 1 or 2 workouts early in the week left me too sore to train for the rest of the week.  That is simply not normal for me, and it had to have been caused by the radiation.

As for training in February, who knows?  Tomorrow, I head to Sloan Kettering in NYC for a series of tests.  The key test is a CT scan to look at how effective my December radiation treatments were.  I can't say that I'm thrilled about this trip, because the best possible outcome means another surgery in the next month or so.

If the radiation was not effective, or if any new lesions show up, I have no idea what will happen.  I honestly can't even let myself think about it.  This is the first trip that I'm making to Sloan Kettering where I've worried about being given the dreaded "There's nothing more we can do" speech.  I know that's unlikely, at least for now, but if the radiation failed or a handful of new lesions have shown up, I'm not sure what the answer will be.

Each day, as I get closer to this scan, is more and more difficult.  I am having a hard time concentrating on anything, to be honest.  There are just too many "what if" questions out there.

So, for now, let's just assume that things go well.  I will probably have surgery in 2-3 weeks.  And, with some luck, I'll be recovered from the surgery in time to still get in some skiing later this season.  Hopefully, I'll be stronger on the opening day of trout season than I was last year.  Last year, I fished for about 3 hours each on the first two days of the season.  That was all my body could handle.

Surgery last year was in early March.  If I have the surgery in early to mid February, I should be more recovered in April than I was last year.

I am certainly preparing for trout season as if I'll be healthy enough to fish.  With surgery looming, I'm already thinking less and less about skiing, and thinking ahead to recovery from the surgery and then trout season.  Every step of the way, I need some kind of incentive to keep me going through the next treatment.  Otherwise, this whole process would be unbearable.

The other reason that I'm thinking ahead is that I'm spending my second consecutive winter cold all the time.  I simply cannot get warm or stay warm.  On 40F days, I'm skiing in the clothes I would normally wear for a 15F day.  On a 15F day, I am wearing mittens rather than gloves, extra base layers, and I still cannot stay warm.  I know that chemo messed with my tolerance to cold last winter.  I'm unsure if that is a permanent effect, or if I'm having a similar reaction to the radiation.  Either way, it's no fun being cold all the time, so I am thinking ahead to warmer days already.  We haven't even hit the typical coldest weeks of the year, and I'm looking ahead to warmer days.  I never thought I'd be the person saying that.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Little snippet of good news

It was three years ago today that I had my prostate removed due to stage 2 (Gleason Stage 3+4) prostate cancer.  The pathology from that day showed that the cancer was fully contained within the prostate and the amount of Gleason pattern 4 cancer (the more dangerous type) was very minimal.  In retrospect, I might have been able to put off surgery for years, although doctors want to treat people my age very quickly for prostate cancer, given the expected lifespan of a male in his early 50's.  In hindsight, especially with everything I know now, I would have have held off on treating the prostate cancer, but there are no do-overs.

Even though the final pathology report was good, and despite much more pressing concerns at the moment, I still need to have my PSA level checked every six months.  And, because I'm a testosterone user (it's only been in the past few years that prostate cancer patients have been allowed to use testosterone after treatment), the doctors are extra cautious about the PSA level.

So, this past Monday morning, I had three blood tests - a hemagram, PSA, and testosterone level.  First, and most importantly, my PSA remains undetectable at the 3 year mark post-op.  According to online nomograms, I have a 99% chance of not dying from prostate cancer in the next 15 years, and a 91% chance of being free of prostate cancer in 10 years.  My testosterone level is solid and my blood isn't too thick - something that can happen with high doses of testosterone -  higher doses than I use.

Doctors don't like to use the word "cured" with prostate cancer, and certainly not before the 5 year mark.  But, these test results give me some hope that I shouldn't have to worry about that beast again.  Besides, I have a bigger opponent these days.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Minor setback

This week, for the first time since my radiation treatments, I was able to squat on Monday and not end up unimaginably sore for the next few days.  I even followed up Monday squats with deadlifts on Tuesday, plus some other work.  But, I noticed Tuesday night that I was struggling with my workout, and I blamed it on lifting heavier on Monday.

In reality, it turns out that I have a head cold - my first in a long time.  I'm not sure why, but for many years of my life, I have been prone to catching colds.  Two winters ago, before I started to feel sick from the liposarcoma tumor, I was amazed to catch a cold in November, December, January, February and March.  Those persistent colds led to a tough ski season.  It just isn't much fun to ski in the cold weather while sick.

In hindsight, I'm sure this was due to the cancer messing with my immune system, but at the time, it was very disturbing.  I've always heard that we catch fewer colds as we get older, mostly due to antibodies that we developed from colds when we were younger.  I can't cite any research on this, so I could be off base here.  But, I seemed to be going the opposite direction at the time.

But, after I started to get sick in April of 2015, and after the 5 colds in 5 months, this suddenly stopped.  I haven't had a cold right now in 20+ months.  So, I'm not going to complain too much about this one.  I would guess that I'm overdue.

Due to the cancer and having mild asthma, I get a flu shot every winter and I make sure to stay up to date on the pneumonia vaccine.  So, I'm sure this is just a head cold that will hopefully run its course in a few days.

Regretfully, that does mean a few days of rest.  I might be able to work out, if I really wanted to, but it wouldn't be fun.  So, I'm just going to wait it out.  If I'm not feeling better by tomorrow afternoon, I will skip skiing this coming weekend.  And hopefully, by Monday, I'll be right back to my normal training schedule.

I have just under 4 weeks until my next CT scan at Sloan Kettering.  If things go as expected, we will set a date for surgery that day, and I'm guessing I'll have surgery by mid-February.  So, my goal right now is to regain as much fitness as possible between now and the surgery.  My fitness has helped me in my recovery from previous surgeries, and going into surgery in good shape means I'm in better shape when I can resume training.

So, I really want to be training regularly right now.  But, I will use some discretion and rest a few days before getting back to my normal schedule.  I don't want to risk prolonging the cold by trying to train hard through it.

Such is life.