Sorry for the long post, but I am struggling to deal with my dad's death this month, especially given the circumstances. After hours and hours of scouring the web, I am yet to find a similar story involving such a short timescale between onset of symptoms and dying of prostate cancer.
Dad presented at the GP with a persistent cough and lower back and leg pain at the beginning of March. GP referred him to an x-ray and prescribed him antibiotics in case it was a chest infection. Following week, he can't get out of bed and is forced to call an ambulance. Nothing is done in A&E and he returns home on his own by bus. He starts sleeping in a chair rather than bed. He has another visit to the GP, who thinks the pain he has is unlikely to be sciatica, that he should just keep moving and it should get better. A leg and chest x-ray is scheduled for SIX WEEKS time. The antibiotics give him some symptomatic relief, but of course the shadows remain in the lungs. We are told here that there is the possibility it could be cancer.
A CT scan is arranged for a week's time, but the machine is typically broken and he is forced to wait another week. He gets an appointment at the hospital the week after where they finally confirm it is cancer, but still unknown primary, but they suspect the prostate as a PSA test gives a score of 30.
By this point it is mid-May. He gets an MRI which confirms he has lung, spine and pelvis mets. The week after, he gets a biopsy of the lung which tests weakly positive for prostate markers (I don't know why they opted for a lung and not prostate biopsy here, given the information they have).
At the beginning of June, he gets called in to the urology part of the hospital. They do a DRE, which also suggests abnormality, so they proceed with the strong hypothesis that it is prostate cancer. He has a pair of Degarelix injections that, quote the doctor, 'will send his cancer into remission' and they plan to check up on him in 6 weeks’ time.
Today is the day of that check up: he has been dead for 3 weeks. I need to understand where and how things went wrong.
I work abroad, but would talk to my parents often, and they would give me the doctors’ feedback. I mistakenly think that the diagnosis of prostate cancer means that his case is not too urgent and that we are in for the long run. I therefore quit my job in anticipation, but he lasts just 3 weeks from when I return, which has left me feeling cheated and full of regrets.
I came home in shock to see my dad with cachexia, just a few days after the urology appointment. Despite his condition and having no experience with cancer, things I read online about prostate cancer keep me optimistic. At this point he is still just about able to get up the stairs. But he gets weaker by the day. GP referrals take forever and within a couple of days of the district nurse coming to visit, we are told he has hypercalcemia and must go to hospital. He's put on a drip and encouraged to be bed-bound, due to his pain. So his functions deteriorate further. He has another MRI 'just in case.' This is 3 weeks after the first and it shows the cancer has spread to the liver and that his spinal mets are encroaching on the spinal cord. We are told nothing more can be done, that his cancer must have been hormone-refractory from the start. Devastating. He made it another week in the hospital, then a week after at home.
I would like to know whether there are other stories like this, or whether he was just extremely unlucky and must have had some rare version of prostate cancer (of course, with no biopsy, we don’t know).
He was in his mid-70s, perfectly healthy and fit. I saw him over Christmas and perhaps noticed he was a bit weaker and thinner, but nothing inconsistent, I thought, with being under the weather/aging. He had maybe started to develop the persistent cough when I left.
Is there anything more we could have done? Should anything more have been done?