If cancer doesn't get you, treatment side effects might!

About Side Effects

Today I completed my fourth week of recovery since undergoing prostate cancer surgery. The healing process has gone quite well. The only noticeable condition that I'm experiencing is that of periodic daily fatigue and tiredness. My doctors assure me that that's an expected outcome of the effort my body is expending to heal itself. The good news is that I've been told that I might be a little ahead of schedule.

The tough news is that when I'm more fully healed additional treatments will be required to battle the remaining cancer. 

Today, Cindy and I met with Dr. Heather Cheng, a Medical Oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She, along with Dr. Jay Liau, a Radiation Oncologist at the University of Washington Medical Center, will oversee the hormone therapy and radiation treatments that I will receive.

During our visit with Dr. Cheng we learned about the use and side effects of the hormone Lupron Depot. Most prostate cancer cells depend on testosterone to grow. Although it is not a cure for advanced prostate cancer, Lupron Depot suppresses the production of testosterone, which slows the growth of prostate cancer cells. Dr. Cheng expects that my hormone treatment will last about six months. Unfortunately, there's a really good chance that it won't be much fun.

Every man is different and the way hormones effect us will vary from person to person. Common side effects of Lupron Depot injections frequently include:

hot flashes (flushing), - night sweats, - tiredness, - headaches, - upset stomach, - nausea, - diarrhea and/or constipation, - stomach pain, - breast swelling or tenderness, - joint/muscle aches or pain, - insomnia, - reduced libido, - swelling of the ankles/feet, - increased urination at night, - dizziness, - weakness, - chills, - clammy skin, - skin redness, - itching, - impotence, - depression, or - memory problems.

Holy crap! All that, and we haven't even heard about the impact of radiation yet! We'll learn more about that in our meeting with Dr. Liau at the end of next week.

They say the prostate cancer that I have classifies me as a "high risk" patient. Although they are more cautious now that the surgery is behind me and the pathology report is in, they still consider my case to be one that is curable. I couldn't really ask for anything more. 

I won't be starting the hormone therapy until after we return from an early March vacation trip to Hawaii with some of our closest friends. By then my body will be stronger and better prepared.

Optimism continues. With the prayers and support of friends and family, I know I have a great opportunity to kick cancers ass.

Add A New Comment

  • Lynann Bradbury
    Aug. 16, 2016
    First and foremost, I hope you're healthy, feeling better and handling everything in front of you with courage, tenacity and grace. I am a 3x cancer survivor (thyroid). It took me three rounds to be public about it. I thank you -- and others -- who are willing to be up front with your diagnosis, the treatments and the process. It helps those who come after us believe in a cure, stay optimistic and have faith that there will be life after cancer.

    P.S. I found your blog while researching Pemco. I realize I'm commenting on a post from January, but 'well wishes' can never be outdated. By now, I hope you've kicked cancer's ass!
  • Ole Carlson
    Jan. 12, 2016

    I am happy for you that the treatment is working. It might help readers if you tell us your "numbers", what stage that put you in and how far the cancer had spread out side of your prostate. It helps to scale the treatment as different numbers call for different treatment. I mentioned to you that I was borderline stage three so the cancer was treated with stereo tactic body radiation therapy. State of the art radiation that only took 5 doses in a ten day period. NO side effects except some fatigue at first. My PSA dropped from 12.8 to 1.1 after the treatment at UCLA. As you know there are many options and early detection is the key. I wish you well on your journey. Men need to talk about this cancer as woman do about breast cancer.

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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