This month my boys are participating in No Shave November or Noshember, or Movember... all different names, but the intent is the same. Just as October was festooned in pink for breast cancer awareness, so November will be hirsute and fuzzy.. for prostate cancer awareness. You can read all about it and how you can be involved here.
Although I have written much about Mom's battles with cancer, I haven't really written about Daddy's battle. He was diagnosed first. November 18, 2003, my husband's birthday. That morning there had been a freak hail storm with hail stones the size of baseballs. Our cars were dented and dinged but that paled in comparison with the call we got from the hospital. Daddy had been having severe back pain, and we were expecting to here that he had a ruptured vertebrae or something along those lines. However, the diagnosis was much different. He had prostate cancer that had already metastasized to his bones.
The fact that is had already spread to his bones was not a good thing. I don't know how much Mom and Dad knew at the time, but just recently Daddy's doctor let him know that most men who present like Daddy presented, don't do nearly as well as Daddy.
And Daddy did well. Very well. I'm going to have to go ahead and use the word "miraculous". His PSA levels when he was diagnosed were unbelievably high.. 1047. (0 is normal, and anything over 4 is cause for investigation.) The doctors began a treatment regimen but I'm not sure how optimistic they were, considering how the cancer had already spread. Their goal was to get the PSA down to around 50. Still incredibly high, but a little more respectable. I still remember the call from mom when she announced that his PSA levels were a big, fat zero! The other evidence of our miracle is that the intense, debilitating, bone pain had resolved as well.
There were a couple of times over the years that his PSA levels "ooched" up as Mom put it. The doctors would tweak his medicine and he would, like a good patient, respond perfectly.
I am so thankful that Daddy was well and able to take amazing care of Mom when she got her own diagnosis. We were very concerned about what the stress was doing to him, and I was certainly praying for him as hard as I was praying for Mom.
Recently, Daddy started to feel some pain in his tailbone and although we tried to explain it away by blaming his chair, but his PSA levels rose to confirm our suspicions. A bone scan cinched it. The cancer was back in his tailbone. The theory is that any treatment eventually loses it's effectiveness so treatment has to be adjusted.
A course of radiation killed what was growing in the tailbone, and he began a fascinating new treatment called Provenge. Provenge acutally empowers his own immune system to do what God created it to do. His own white blood cells were removed, shipped to Atlanta where they were "activated" and shipped back here where they were transfused back into his body to fight, fight, fight. The new, more powerful cells, designed to seek out and destroy the cancer were dubbed Cell Team 6. And they are busy doing their job!
So it's fitting that November, the month of Daddy's original diagnosis, is the month now dedicated to prostate cancer awareness (as well as other men's health issues). And Daddy's grandson's are all prepared to get hairy for the cause.
November is also the month of Thanksgiving, so I plan to post daily, writing about all the things I'm thankful for! Today I am so thankful for the Daddy. I am so thankful for the care he gave Momma and I am so thankful that he is still here with us, and still taking care of us - he had adapted to wearing Mom's hats very well!
He has a little bit of a secret though... Mom is taking care of him! That's what tomorrow's post is all about!