The short version: I have survived 2021. Treatments for my prostate cancer have been very effective. I'm not cured, and cure is not expected, but ongoing treatments are keeping the cancer well suppressed. Dealing with the side effects of those treatments continues to be unpleasant. I have good days and I have bad days, but I'm not dead yet.
Cancer is bad. Do not recommend.
I finished chemo for the second time in early March. The recovery has been difficult and slow and is still ongoing.
March in particular was very bad:
1) amyth died. Her diagnosis came several months after mine, but her cancer was much more severe and she had a much rougher time while being treated for it. I still have some survivor's guilt.
2) I had blood in my urine for most of the month. I'm glad it turned out to be nothing more serious than irritation due to the chemo, but it was very scary at the time.
3) I had severe diarrhea for two weeks. Unpleasant and debilitating.
4) I had severe disruption of my taste perception. For a week, even plain water tasted bad. Filtered, unfiltered, bottled, I tried them all. I survived on chicken broth, V8 juice, Gatorade, and water but had to use a fat straw so that I didn't have to taste any of it for long. Nine months later, my sense of taste has only partially recovered. Many things still taste different, or "off," or downright bad.
But I survived March, and April was a little better. I was able to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
I don't remember May at all. My calendar tells me I had three medical appointments: a blood draw, an oncology consult, and a dental cleaning.
I finally got some decent pictures of a hummingbird at this apartment. [link] I've only been trying for thirteen years.
My lower back pain flared up again in early June. I lived with it through July and August. I asked for help in September. The good news is that this time the pain does not appear to be directly cancer-related. The diagnosis was "spondylosis," a.k.a. osteoarthritis, i.e. "He's old and his back hurts." The doctor agreed to re-start my meloxicam prescription, and it has worked well for me so far. Walking is no longer slow, painful, wobbly, and uncertain. Putting on socks is no longer slow agony. I have been able to try to exercise more. I just hope my kidneys continue to tolerate the medication.
I still get periodic blood tests, CT scans, and bone scans. The good news is that the chemotherapy and the androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) have worked very well, much better than I expected, and my cancer is currently well suppressed. The bad news is that the ongoing ADT treatments have a wide variety of unpleasant side effects.
Last year I posted, "Loss of muscle, lack of strength, lack of stamina, and an increase in overall fatigue have all become very noticeable...." Those side effects are all still problems for me, and I am coping with them, but not as well as before. I have had a lot more muscle atrophy, and the lack of strength and stamina is profound. It has severely limited my ability to maintain an exercise routine, but I keep trying.
Two other ADT side effects are causing me difficulty, particularly with work -- I am emotionally much more volatile (quicker to tears, quicker to anger, quicker to take offense when none was intended, recurring depression) and some mental deficits have become apparent (loss of vocabulary, loss of attention span, difficulty maintaining concentration, difficulty with memory, difficulty with planning, difficulty learning new things). Both are getting harder and harder to hide, but I haven't been fired. Yet.
I have lost my skill at mental arithmetic, in which I once took such pride. The space where I visualized calculations and formulae and short-term tables is completely gone. Now I need a calculator (or pencil and paper) to do even the simplest operations.
I am now officially diabetic. I knew I was at increased risk due to the ADT, but it seems my efforts at diet and exercise have been inadequate. One more problem to be depressed about.
The depression comes and goes. It became a lot easier to fight back the brain weasels once I stopped hurting so much.
Getting old is no fun, but I suppose it is still better than the alternative.
In June of 2019 I did not really expect to live to see 2022; now that it looks like I will, I suppose it is time to set my sights on 2023.