So, quite a bit has happened since my last post. I managed to complete eight cycles of chemo but, by the end, I was having to have blood transfusions all the time, and my blood tests more generally indicated it was time to stop.
That was very frustrating as my PSA had fallen sharply from the peak of around 90, and I think a couple more cycles would have put it into low single figures. Anyway, it wasn’t to be, and, after some initial disappointment, I was ultimately glad to have stopped. I really was very run down.
The big problem was, of course, that the cancer wasn't having some time off. In fact, it had used the period of the Olaparib trial and the chemo experiment to spread itself out. Having started out as a relatively small dot on a rib around half way up my back 14 years earlier, it had now arranged itself over three ribs, a chunk of spine, and onto my lung.
So surgery was the only option - as an aside, I really wish I'd pushed harder for this in the early days as it would have saved me a lot of trouble, but I couldn't convince anyone to do it at the time. Oh well. The good news is that I now know a fantastic thoracic and neurological surgeon, with the latter suggesting he can get rid of a little met on one of my vertebra simply by injecting it with surgical cement should that prove necessary.
The resection of the ribs, spine etc. took place in May. Since then, I've had to cope with gastro-intestinal issues caused by the use,of opioids; to wean myself off fentanyl and tramadol, and lots more besides. I wouldn't describe any of that as fun.
The biggest issue has been a problem with my abdominal wall. In simple terms, my stomach etc. is not being held in place by my abdominal muscles because they are not being controlled by the normal nerves - nerves that were removed during the operation.
I'm having physio, and electro-pulse therapy might help, but imagine I will have to have another operation at some point to resolve this. In the meantime, I'm wearing a cut down hernia belt to hold everything in place during the day.
This does a reasonable job and has helped me get back to work - although there is a large bulge in the front of my work shirts, and I've had to move up a size on the clothes front to allow space for this contraption.
I guess the big question, then, is was it all worth it? The answer to that, even at this stage is a resounding yes. My PSA has fallen to 0.64, and has been edging down slightly over the last three readings. There are still some issues to work through, and it was as painful as hell when i first had it done, but i can now see a future that didn't appear to exist a few months ago. And that makes it all worthwhile … and then some.
If anyone has any questions about what I've had done and/or is considering a similar operation, I'd be more than willing to try to answer them/give advice.
Let me know. David.