Time

Time is very precious to me. As you can see on Facebook I spent time with Erin, Steven, Camden, Dixie, Amy, Allie, Cheeto, KiKi (the cat), Justin, Christy, and Ed Sheeran in KC over the weekend. Not many better ways to spend my time.

Okay maybe I did not technically spend the weekend with Ed. Amy and Allie did take us to his concert at Arrowhead Saturday night. It was a great concert. I loved it. Thank you Amy and Allie for a great time. It was so excellent that I am going to suggest you take me to another show soon. You know Breaking Benjamin will be in Wichita in November. Just saying.

While at the concert Ed did not start until 9:00. The first opening act started around 7:00. The girls had heard of him. I had not. Some guy calling himself lauv which he pronounced love. Never heard of him, but I did recognize one song. Do not remember the name. Oh well. Then Snow Patrol played. I never have been a big fan, but they were good.

What I am getting to is that since Ed had two opening acts I had time to catch a little of the Tigers football game in a bar at the stadium. Mostly I followed the game on my phone. Well you know how that ended. Not well. Not well at all.

Oh well there is always next year, I mean next week. They are still playing for a decent bowl game. Going to have to knock off Kentucky or Florida or both, but I do not want to get too far ahead of myself. I predict that this next Saturday that the Tigers will win in Columbia. I just hope that it is our Tigers.

So what else did I do this weekend you might ask? Well we went to a haunted house in downtown KC. That was fun. Again Ed was Saturday night. Did I do anything else that I can think of? Let me think about that. Oh yes I spent time with Camden. We always have a great time together.

Before the Haunted House

We took some photos, and video. I hope you enjoy them. You know that if I spent time in KC that you were going to see Cammy photos and video.

Now if you are a grandparent you understand the joy and happiness you feel having grandchildren. It is not that you get to spoil the kids and turn them over to the parent and walk away. That is not it at all. It does at times feel good though.

No it is more like when you get your grandson to say “MIZ Go Tigers! “ Cammy’s mom and dad did not see the humor in our little cheer. Go figure.

No it is not even that. It is hard to explain, but I guess being a little older and wiser… you can stop laughing at anytime Erin. As I was saying being older and wiser you see the opportunity for a do over so to speak. Not in a negative way mind you. I am very proud of Steven and Erin and how they are raising Camden, and soon a second child.

Grandparents are there for advice when needed. As for me I still use the same game plan when my kids were little. “Go ask you mother” still goes a long way. Also I have to add that grandpas are great playmates.

If you are a soon to be grandparent I say congratulations and welcome to the club. It is hard for me to explain what you are going to experience. It will be one of the best feelings that you have ever had. It will rival any past experiences. Now it will not always be lollipops and candy canes, but what is. This is real life. Enjoy the ride.

Cammy, well he means the world to me. He brings so much joy. Just thinking of him makes me happy. Some days it is hard to be happy. He brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.

At times I have wondered how I am going to be able to hold everything together and move forward. Then I think of my moments with Cammy and I have a reason to live. I have a reason to fight. Those moments turn into beautiful memories.

I have had other memories in my life that I will forever cherish. Some of those memories have been with you. I think that there will be future experiences in my life that will also become great memories. I believe that some of those future moments could be with you. All I need is a little of your time, your precious time.

Every now and then I am able to make it back to the area in which I grew up. I will call it my “Homeland.” Monday the 15th I am again traveling back to that area. My plan is to be there seven or eight days. I have contacted several people who I will be spending time with during the week. I have others I hope to contact. I am sure that I will not be able to see everyone I want to see during this visit, which means there will be other trips. Unfortunately there will be some people that I will never see. That does not mean I do not think about you.

When I see you I want to see your smile, and of course I want a hug. We can talk about the past, present, and future. One thing I would prefer not to talk about, and that is cancer.

Another test was run last week. The results are available, but I have not asked. This is one time I do not want to know the results, at least not yet. I even moved my next doctor’s appointment to the 24th.

I moved the date so that I could go on vacation without having “Brutus” on my mind. So while on vacation I would not play over and over again in my mind just what they think is best for me. What they want me to do. I know the answer to that already. I have a very good idea what the test results will show. But if I do not see the doctor I can deny in my mind what is happening. They are going to want me back on medicine soon. I am still hoping to wait a little longer. I just want a little more time medicine free.

So if you live in the area of my Homeland or if you will be in Columbia for Homecoming maybe we will get to spend some time together.

If by chance you are on the road and you see a little red sports car pass you with Kansas tags well that might be me. I might be driving just a little fast. Not real fast… just a little fast.

I have places to go. I have people to see. I have memories to make. I do not want to waste time. See ya.

Kevin

Why?

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. I guess every disease has gotta have its month. I think of it more as a day to day disease. But that is just me.

I thought about talking about the statistics of this disease such as a man dies every 18 minutes in the United States from prostate cancer. That it is the most common diagnosed cancer in men and the second biggest killer.

I thought about writing about the pros and cons of having a PSA test and at what age. That is a question constantly being debated. The medical community really has not come to a consensus. It is a discussion you definitely need to have with your doctor around the age of 50 and possibly tested then or at least by the age of 55. Now if you have a family history that is a different story. Testing then should be much sooner.

I guess that I should put in here that I am not a doctor. You should seek competent medical advice. Good luck finding that.

The above topics need to be discussed. Just not by me. They are boring and you can read all about prostate cancer on the internet. I have. Just stick to legitimate web sites. Of course if you want alternative treatments they are out there. One person told me that I need to drink hydrogen peroxide. Excuse me, I think not. For now I will stick to the regular stuff that kills you. Bartender, give me a tall glass of chemo along with a shot of Lupron please.

So what do I want to talk about? Well me of course. I like talking about me. So here we go.

Eisenhower was president and he wanted to conduct a new census so my parents made the journey to their homeland in Mexico. No, no, no I was not born in a barn but rather in Audrain County Hospital in Mexico, MO. I do not know anything about a census going on just thought I would throw that in there. Eisenhower was president when I was born. I like Ike.

I do get a lot of mileage about telling people here in the Land of Oz that I was born in Mexico. I even show them by green Barnes & Noble Card. I do get around to telling them Mexico, MO. Many people around here think I am Hispanic. I have been in so many homes where the people will look at me and start talking to me in Spanish. They eventually figure it out.

So why did I just waste valuable space and talk about really nothing related to cancer? I am stalling I guess. You see what I am going to share with you is very personal and hurts. I will talk about my family and some of you know them. More specifically I am going to talk about my father.

One thing you need to know about prostate cancer is that it is one of those hereditary cancers. Most men who get the disease do not have a family history, but if you have a close family member who has the disease then your risk of getting the cancer is greater than someone without a family history. The more family members with the disease, then the higher the risk you have of getting the disease.

If you have a family history you need to start getting tested at age 40.

African Americans suffer from this disease at a higher rate than white males. Men of color should be checked at age 40 even without a family history of the disease. Please talk to your doctor.

When I started this blog in a way I knew that I would be opening up myself to family, friends, and strangers. That is something I was not sure I could do. It has been easier than I thought, and most of the time I feel better after writing. In writing you do not have that personal interaction that makes you think twice about what you are going to say. So most of the time I just say what I think and feel, and of course try to throw in a little humor from time to time. I need to laugh. I am not sure there will be much more laughing during this conversation. I will try.

I do feel like I am actually talking to you and not writing. Funny isn’t it. Of course I picture you on the couch in your lingerie while we have this discussion. Hey this is my blog and I can have those fantasies. I have that visual because most of my readers are women. Or at least it seems that way since I am most often contacted by women who have read the posts. Some of the people who have contacted me are going through cancer themselves or they have a loved one who is dealing with cancer or they have lost someone to cancer. I hate cancer! They are kind and tell me that I have helped them. That makes me happy.

Some people contact me by email after the essays, and others comment on the Facebook link. I am going to ask that you do not comment on this essay. Just read. I think that you will understand why I ask that as we talk.

Years ago I was visiting my grandfather at his residence in Columbia. My grandparents had moved there after selling the farm near Mexico to be closer to quality medical care.

On this visit my grandfather started giving me things. He started giving me household items like he no longer needed them. I did not understand why he was doing that. I did not need or want these things. He did give me some old pictures of when I was growing up and spending time on the farm. I do love those.

During this visit he said out of the blue that he would not give five cents for his life on this earth. He hoped that Heaven would be better.

I did not understood what he meant by that or why he was saying that. In my mind he had a good life. I did not ask questions. Things were getting weird and I just wanted to leave.

I want to take a short time out from this cancer talk for just a moment to comment on my grandfather’s farm. I want the people to know who live there now that I get sick every time I drive by and see what has happened to the property. If you do not clean up that place and put some paint on the house that my grandfather built I will one day stop and pull up into that long drive. When I get out of my car I am going to bitch slap somebody. You have been warned. Thank you for letting me vent. I feel better.

Now I want to get back to my grandfather. That day that he got all weird on me was the last time I ever saw him. He died a few months later. He looked good when I saw him. I suspect he knew that we might not see each other again. That I believe was why he was acting the way he was. That is why he said what he said. I did not even find out that he had died until several months after his death. My father never told me.

I learned that he had cancer. I do not know if that was what killed him or not.   I did not know what type of cancer he had. My father never talked to me about my grandfather’s illness. Hell we rarely ever talked.

Now I need to explain a little about my father. If I told you that we were not close that would be a major understatement. I would say that we did not like one another. He was not what I would call a good person. I will explain, but I do not want to turn this into a bash dad essay. It might turn into that.

I grew up in a violent home. My father was a physically abusive person.  Not every day, but when it happened, it happened big. You walked on egg shells trying not to piss him off. When he drank it was much worse.

When I was a child he was either hitting on me, my brother, or mother, but as I got older I was hit less often. At times I could stop my mom and brother from getting hit. I did not like the man as a person or as a father. I did learn a little about being a father from him. I have asked myself what my dad would do in situations I found myself needing to handle. Once I answer that question I just do the opposite. It has served me well.

I moved out in August of 1978 to go to college. I never lived with my parents again. My brother told me that things got worse after I moved out. They eventually divorced. Thank God.

You wonder why am I telling you all this. I really do not know. I guess my therapy. I wish I had a relationship with my father. I wish he was different. I have so envied friends who have good relationships with their fathers. I never could pick up the phone and talk to him and tell him about the kids or seek his advice.

I guess I am telling you this because of what I am going to tell you now. It is kind of like background information for the finale.

In February of 2012 I got a call from my mother that dad was dying. He had cancer and he did not have much time left, and if I wanted to see him before he died I needed to get there. I was not sure I wanted to go. I decided to go because I had things that needed to be said.

When I arrived he was in a drug induced comma due to the pain from his cancer. He could not talk and if I had been told that I probably would not have gone. Since I was there I decided that what I needed to say was still going to be said. Not sure in his comatose state that he understood anything I was saying, but he might have.

So I sat in a chair next to his bed and talked to him. I am sure I said some mean things. I am also sure that I told him that I wished things were different. It hit me hard that we would never be able to reconcile our relationship. That made me sad. It hit me that I loved him. I told him that. I am sure we had some good times. I just cannot remember them.

All food and water had been taken from him. He was going to die soon, but I was told that he could linger for days. The next day I left. When I got home I got word that he had died.

Cancer most likely killed my grandfather years earlier. I did not know what kind of cancer. Cancer killed my father, but I really did not know what type of cancer.

My father had chemo and his white and red cells were all messed up. His mother my grandmother had died from leukemia. I thought that he also must have had a blood cancer of some type. No one told me different. His third wife did not tell me. This was the first time I met her. I never met his second wife.

A few years before my dad died I started having symptoms of cancer. It was 2009, but I did not realize that what was happening was cancer. I did not know nor did my doctor think that I had cancer. When I told my primary care doctor of my problems he gave me pills. That little blue pill and it worked wonders. I was happy. But as a man in his late 40’s should I really need that medicine? Were we treating symptoms of a disease that we had not identified?

When I was in my late thirties I had my first spinal fusion surgery. I had a herniated disc in my upper back/neck area that was fused. I was told that I had degenerative disc disease. I was told that in the future I would need more surgeries.

My neck started acting up again, and I was able to control the pain with shots. I had a pain management doctor and for years I was given epidural steroid injections. Eventually they stopped working and surgery became my only option.

During this time I was also experience some urination problems. Since I was seeing doctors all the time I decided to bring up my problem. I again had a talk with my GP and more medicine was given. He asked me if I had a history of prostate cancer in my family. I told him not that I knew. He told me that I was too young for prostate cancer, and I did not have all the symptoms. I was not tested.

If you research the symptoms for prostate cancer I had most of them, but because of my age and no family history I was not tested. People my age he seemed to think did not get prostate cancer. Boy was he wrong.

I thought about all this and realized that I really did not know what kind of cancer my grandfather or my father had. I started doing some checking and asking questions. What I learned was that they both had prostate cancer.

When I was back to see my doctor I let his PA know about my family history of prostate cancer. I was tested right then. The PSA was high and my PC doctor told me that with that number I had cancer. He sent me to see an urologist Dr. Richard Little. I think I have talked about Dick before.

When I first met Dick he did not think I needed surgery. We could watch and wait. I was also trying to avoid neck surgery.

I was able to put them both off for a year. The pain in my neck and back finally got so bad that something had to be done.

Also my PSA numbers had a dramatic increase in a short time. I could no longer avoid surgery. When I got a second opinion I learned that the cancer threat was much greater than we had thought. Damn Dick.

So I had neck surgery in August of 2016. They fused C4, C5, C6, and C7. Two titanium plates were placed in my neck and I am not sure how many screws. Neck and back are much better now. Have lost range of motion, but who cares.

So after my neck surgery in August I had cancer surgery in December of 2016. That started the process we are currently trying to deal with. How long will this go on? Who knows?

When I am sitting by myself and I am trying to figure things out I realize that what has happened to me did not have to happen. No it did not. That brings us to the title of this essay and the million dollar question. Why?

I realize that men from my father’s and grandfather’s generation did not talk about their problems. They want to keep things private. I would imagine that many families have relatives that have medical conditions that they really do not understand, because the person with the problem does not want to talk about it.

Men tend to suffer in silence. They do not want to talk about prostate cancer. They do not want to tell people they have prostate cancer. They do not want to talk about what the disease has done to them.

Even knowing that I do think that most men would tell their children, “Hey get checked.”

Why didn’t my dad tell me that he had prostate cancer? Why did he not tell me to get checked?

The disease is hereditary. You can get it without a family history of the disease, but if you have a history you are more likely to get it. I am sure my dad had the disease for several years before he died.

If I had been told earlier, like when my father suspected that he had the disease or even when my grandfather died, to get checked then my disease, I feel, would have been found at stage I or stage II. I could have been cured. I would have been cured. Why?

It is hard for me to accept that my father kept information from me that would have dramatically change things. Again, what I am going through did not have to be.

Christy wants to think that maybe he did not understand how important it was for my brother and I to know about his disease. I do not believe that for a minute. His father had the disease. He knew.

I learned that he had commented before he was diagnosed that he knew from his symptoms and from his father’s experience that he had the cancer. He waited too long to be checked.

I do know that the history of prostate cancer killing men in my family will end. I will not allow this to happen to my son.

He will be checked at age 40. A baseline PSA will be determined and his numbers will be checked every year. If or when the disease hits him he will be ready. This will not take his life.

What my father has done to me by withholding that information is unforgivable. But I have had to move on. Hate will consume you and destroy you. You have to let it go.

I have accepted what has happened. I have not accepted what is going to happen.

I cannot let what has happened consume me. I cannot worry about the future. I have to live in this moment and make it the best that I can.

I was going to get this disease. That most likely could not have been prevented. It was in my genes. What could have been prevented would have been the severity of my disease once it was identified and diagnosed. If I had been anticipating it, and looking for it we would have found it much sooner. I would not be in my current situation. This did not have to happen.

I am finishing this essay on Friday night the 14th. Earlier today I had a discussion over the phone with a nurse from Dr. U’s office. She had the results from my latest tests. This week was the start of my once again every three months appointments with Dr. U and Dr. O. I see Dr. U next week.

She gave me the numbers. They were not good. I guess they could have been worse. You see I am looking for the positive.

Since I am off drugs these test results were going to be very important to me. If your PSA number doubles in three months or less that is very bad. I understand that is a sign that you have metastatic disease, and that it is spreading.

It has been three months since my last test. My PSA has gone up six fold in those three months.

Ruh-roh Kev. Yes Winston that is not good.

I feel as though my father gave me a death sentence. Each treatment protocol I try is like a temporary stay of execution. I live with the fear that my executioner will have his day.

If there is an afterlife and I again see my father I would like one question answered:

Why?

How’s Your Cancer?

I was stopped at a red light not long ago and a car pulled up next to me. I saw that the passenger side window was coming down and I glanced over and saw my friend Boomer behind the wheel. We had worked together in investigations, but since his retirement a few years ago we have lost contact.

We exchanged greetings and he asked how I was doing. I told him fine. I had no idea what Boomer knew about my situation since we have not talked. The light was going to change soon and he was turning left and I was going straight. Our brief encounter would soon be over. This I suspect caused Boomer to get more to the point with his next question. He told me that he has been following my blog. He then asked, or a better description would be he yelled: “How is your cancer?”

He caught me off guard for a moment. Few people are that direct. I liked it. No sense beating around the bush. Let’s get to the point.

I told him that I was good, and that cancer thing was good. Brutus and I thanked him for asking.

The light changed and I told him that I would post an update soon. That was several weeks ago.

Before I go into more detail let me apologize for not posting sooner. I have been busy this summer. Work, the garden, dance, music, and travel have taken up most of my time.

I also have to admit that I really did not want to talk about it. I have enjoyed my summer and did not want to think or talk about cancer. Now is the time to again have a conversation about what has happened and what the future looks like. As I have said before, writing this blog is in a way therapy for me. It forces me to logically organize my thoughts. It helps me make decisions. When I write it makes me face reality. These summer months I have not wanted to face reality. I wanted to run, jump, and play. Reality sucks! Also things have not gone as I had planned. That seems to be a recurring theme.

Now we are getting closer to my next round of tests which should provide feedback on the choices I have made and will have a big impact on the decisions I must make going forward. These conversations even if the conversation is just with me help. As I write my way through a problem I am better able to make decisions.

Sometimes I do not understand what is happening. Sometimes my medical team does not understand what is happening. I have to remember that they are practicing medicine. It is frustrating when so much is on the line. So much is at stake.

Each person’s cancer is different which is why it is so difficult to treat. Each person faces this monster in a way that is right for them. Who is to say who is right and who is wrong?

I have learned in the cancer world that many problems are not yet understood. No one will ever be able to answer all questions or understand why something is or is not happening. Sometimes doctors do not agree. I have learned to move on and stop banging my head against the cancer wall. The answers will come some day. But for now it is what it is.

The results from my surgery on May 22nd really did not help in explaining what was happening, and tests that were completed after the surgery in June were not good. I went into the June test feeling really good. Most of this summer I have felt better than I have in years, I am happy.

Since I have been feeling so good that also means that Brutus was enjoying his days. You see when I felt bad from the poisons that they gave me Brutus also felt bad. Parts of him were killed and the other cancer cells had gone dormant. He was beaten down pretty good for awhile, but so was I. I would rather never feel that way again. The test results in June showed that Brutus is starting to grow stronger. Damn.

I have gotten a little out of a logical order on what has happened the last few months so let’s go back to my last post and make some sense out of this chaos. I left you hanging last time. Let’s fix that.

Let me go back to when I arrived home from my fishing trip in Colorado and the next day, May 22nd, I was to have surgery. I will start there.

It was the night before my surgery and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a …..wait a minute that sounds a little familiar.   Anyway a mouse might not have been up, but I sure was. I could not sleep and I was up almost all night. I had a lot on my mind. I went to bed around 2:30, but still could not sleep. I got up at 4:30 to go to the hospital. I guess I really did not need the sleep. I was going to be sleeping all day after surgery.

Lying in bed I was thinking about how long I was going to have to stay in the hospital. I was hoping to go home the same day as surgery. The doctor’s staff thought that might be possible, but I was more likely going to be staying at least one night.

I was also thinking about how I got myself into this position? I really did not want the surgery. Dr. O wanted me to have the surgery. Christy thinks that I should listen to Dr. O.

I was trying to figure out how to turn this into a positive. I said to myself: Kevin, I call myself Kevin when talking to myself. I tried Mr. Brown, but that does not sound right. Kevin, you have got to figure a way to use this to your advantage.

I decided that I could play the surgery card when discussing future drugs they wanted me to take. Yup, that is what I decided. I will be the farmer’s pig one more time to avoid having to take drugs. I am going to tell them that I did your surgery thing when I did not want to have surgery. Now you want me on drugs and I do not want them. So now we are going to do what I want. We will see how that goes.

So we get to the hospital and they are prepping me and a male nurse is there to shave my chest. He sees the surgery scar from the last time, and we talk about the last surgery. While talking the anesthesiologist (had to look up how to spell that) shows up. Yes, the same one from my rib surgery in March.

He wants to know why I was there again. I had to explain that my medical team, Curly, Moe, and Larry did not have the answers they needed. They needed evidence so today I was having another rib removed. I could have said something funny to him like hoping I make out like Adam, and wake up with an Eve, but at my age I do not need that drama.

My surgeon then showed up and Dr. S spoke to Dr. A. Typing Dr. A is so much easier than typing anesthes….you know.

They were a little lazy at the last surgery prep. They only shaved my chest on the side where they were cutting me open. I looked a little funny. I asked the man to shave the entire chest area this time. I told him that I did not want to look weird for swim suit season. He laughed then shaved not only my chest, but my stomach area as well. Good job.

While shaving he wanted to know my name. I told him Kevin Brown. He wanted to know my middle name. If I had been thinking I would have said “MF.” I did not say that. Not on the top of my game, probably from lack of sleep. I told him my real middle name. I never tell anyone my middle name. The name comes in handy for one reason only. There are thousands of Kevin Brown’s in this world. I can assure you that none of them have my middle name, and no I am not going to tell you what it is. If you are buying the beer I might tell you.

Anyway I told the nurse. I then told him that if he ever told anyone else that I would have to kill him. I don’t think he thought I was serious. He could make my list.

So I get wheeled into the operating room and Dr. A wants my name. I tell him Kevin Brown. I hear the nurse yell out, “His middle name is ****, and if you tell anyone he is gonna kill you.” I laughed. That is the last thing I remember until waking up in the cardio thoracic intensive care unit. I had never heard of such a thing. I was there I guess because I had thoracic surgery, and something about a partial lung collapsing. Hell I do not know. I have never fully understood why I was in the ICU, but I liked it there.

I have never been in intensive care before. They take really good care of you there. The only problem was people constantly in the room ever few hours all night long. I had to have pills ever few hours. They gave me breathing treatments every four hours. I could not get up and walk around without being hooked up to an oxygen tank and wheeling that around with me. But anytime I needed someone they were there. Hell they were there in my room even when I didn’t need them.

After about a day and a half I was moved to a regular room. I still had to be on oxygen. It was a big difference on a regular floor. Hell I could not get anyone to do anything. I waited over an hour for some water. I got up with my tank and walked way down the hall got the water and made sure I walked past the nurse’s station. They asked if I needed anything. I told them I could have used the water an hour ago when I asked for it.

I have another bitch as well. When I was in intensive care the nurses made sure I got ice cream. It was great. I go to the regular floor and I tried to order ice cream and I was told that had to be approved by my doctor, because it was not heart healthy. Well fuck that!! Hell I have stage IV cancer a little heart attack does not scare me. I would welcome a heart attack as long as it takes me quick. Sure as shit beats dying from cancer. I guess dead is dead. I still plan on being shot by a jealous husband. Anyway after making a complaint to the Geneva Convention I got my ice cream. It was not as good as what I got in intensive care. Damn.

So I get sent home and what I thought would be at the most a week off from work is now going to be longer. Someone was sent to my house to place a big oxygen pump in my basement. A very long tube was connected to the pump. It could reach anywhere in the house. They told me that I had to be hooked up to the oxygen machine at all times. I could not even sleep without it. I had this little gadget that I would put on my finger and it would tell me how my lung was doing.

After I got home I took a shower and I started getting dizzy and feeling weak in the shower. I realized that I had taken that damn oxygen tube off. So I grabbed it off the counter and put it on. Then felt better. They were serious about that oxygen shit. Imagine that.

After about a week my lung had recovered and I no longer needed the oxygen. I had all of these tanks around the house, and I was supposed to take one with me if I left home. Finally I got the company to come get them. They looked like missiles. I thought that I was going to blow the house up.

So let’s move on to the test result from my rib. Once again Christy knows and works with everyone in the pathology department. The guy in charge again looked at the rib as well as another doctor that Christy likes, a different doctor from the last time.

No cancer was found. Which you would think is good news. I took it as good news. But that brings up the question of what the hell was it? The pathologist could see the damage. Last time the surgeon saw the damage, but he had tore up the rib so badly that the pathologist could only check for the presence of cancer cells. They could not see the damage that the surgeon had found. This time the pathologist could see the damage. The doctor told Christy that it looked like cancer could have caused the damage, but no cells.

I will take that, because my thinking was that I now have a better case for going off all drugs. If the rib had tested positive then that was not going to happen.

So the first doctor I see during “Kevin’s Summer Tour of Medical Bullshit” is the surgeon. He says “You know that the test for cancer was negative, correct?” He knows that I have the hook up. I tell him that I did know that.

He is sitting on a stool just a few feet from me and he was looking straight at me. He then looks down to the floor and his shoulders droop. He then looks up at me again and I can see in his eyes and in his face that he feels that he has failed me.

He has believed from day one that the cancer had moved into my ribs. He tells me again that what he saw was cancer damage. I told him that I understood the situation. He again looks away from me. Then there was silence. We both knew that something bad had been going on or was going on inside my body. It was just not yet understood.

When he again looked at me the cancer conversation was over. We knew that there was no reason to continue talking about it. We then talked about how to put the medicine he was giving me onto the incisions to keep germs out. He showed me how to keep it covered so I could go on my upcoming lake vacation. He said lake water better not get into the wound.

Christy works closely with many of the cancer doctors at her hospital. She has worked with my surgeon on several occasions. Therefore that makes me part of the hospital family so to speak. Dr. S believes the cancer has spread and without evidence he feels that I will not be treated correctly. I understand that.

I want Dr. S to know that I greatly appreciate all his efforts. Even though there were times we did not see eye to eye I greatly respect him. Sometimes things are a mystery. At least until they are not. Time will tell.

So the next doctor I see is my oncologist. First thing that Dr. O does is thank me for having the surgery. He tells me that it was needed to help answer questions. I am thinking well what questions did it answer? I did not ask. You see I really have gotten to the point where I do not care anymore. I just want to move on.

Several months ago I was in a bad way.   I was in his office and I was not happy with how things were going and I raised my voice a little to let him know my dissatisfaction. He made a statement that I will not forget. He said, “My job is to help you manage your cancer. I have not been doing a very good job.” I thought to myself, no shit Sherlock as I was walking out the door. I did not say it out loud. I wish I had.

The words he used that day have meaning. He did not say that he was there to cure me. He did not say that he was there to help me have a high quality of life. He was there to help me manage. If he was there only to help then that must mean that I am in charge and I was going to make a decision that he was not going to like. No more surgeries and no more drugs.

It was not a popular decision. The biggest reason being the tests that I had a week before seeing Dr. O showed that my cancer was no longer dormant, and that Brutus was alive and well and growing. Being dormant did not last very long. That is very bad. Damn.

We had this discussion in March. He kept giving me reason why I needed to continue the drugs and never come off of them. I just kept telling him no. I will talk more about my reasons on my next post.

During the March meeting we had a very good discussion and I never raised my voice. Honest. He finally understood that I was done for now with the poison being injected into my body and taking pills.

Now I am not suicidal, at least not yet. I know that at some point I will need to be back on the drugs. I know that if I am not on the drugs that the cancer will kill me sooner. I just want for as long as possible to not feel sick. You have to recover from the disease then you have to recover from the treatments.

Christy was not at that appointment in March, but she was at this one. I was concerned that they were both going to gang up on me about the drugs. You see Christy does not like my decision about coming off the drugs.

She had gone to the kids and spoke to them in an attempt to get them on her side. I knew that was going to happen. I had this planned out for months. I spoke to each of my children in person before she got to them and told them what I was planning on doing, and why I was doing it. The kids understand why I am making this choice, and for now they support my decision.

Christy let Dr. O know that she felt that I should stay on the drugs. I thought oh boy here we go. The doctor has an ally and he is going to run with it. I was pleasantly surprised that did not happen. He knows my wishes and he did not throw me under the bus.

He looked at Christy and told her that I did not want them. That ended the conversation about the shots and drugs. I will remain off all medications for now.

He did tell me that he was concerned about my rising PSA numbers and that he did not want that number getting very high. He gave me a number that he felt my PSA should not be allowed to rise above. I thought that number is way too low, and I am going to be at that number in no time. There is no way I am going to agree to that, but I did not say anything. That will be a discussion for another day. I have already started planning for that day.

So from what I can tell Dr. O still does not have the evidence he needs to prove to him that the cancer was or is in my ribs or will return to my ribs. Whatever, it is what it is. I will deal with future problems when and if they occur. He wants me on drugs, but for now he will let me think that I am in charge.

I am scheduled to be tested and maybe scanned in September and October. We will see what happens then.

For now the cancer grows and I understand the risk I am taking. I will have more about the drug issues and the cancer growth in the next post.

The last doctor I saw was the wise old urologist, Dr. U. He had told me during our last visit that he believed the cancer had spread into my ribs. Last time we talked about the need for the second surgery. He told me that they would not find anything. When I saw him in June he did not know that I had agreed to have the second rib surgery.

You see my doctors do share information such as lab work and who knows what else. Unfortunately they do not talk. I wish they did.

When he found out that I had the second surgery he was a little upset. He flat out told me that I did not need the other doctors. He said that he alone could take care of me.

I let him know that I appreciated his concern, but for now I was going to keep things the way they were.

With multiple doctors I am able to learn about more options. I am then able to cherry pick from each doctor. Dr. U has a much higher PSA number in mind when he talks risk tolerance than Dr. O’s. I like that, because I think that it at least lets me know that I am not being totally irresponsible. That a well respected doctor agrees with me on how I want to handle my treatments.

But I cannot ignore Dr. O’s thinking on what needs to be done. He is a very smart man. You may have seen on the news or read in the paper the past few months about a new study involving breast cancer patients in which it was determined that women with the most common form of early stage breast cancer could safely skip chemotherapy. Well Dr. O was one of the researchers and is a co-author of the study. I think I will keep him on my team.

Going forward from here I am concerned that my numbers are going up. That should not be happening. I am concerned that very recently I have again started having discomfort in my ribs. I have tried to tell myself that the discomfort is caused by having been so active this summer. I know that I am lying to myself.

Overall I am happy. I have had a great summer, and I hope you have as well.

Well that is my update on how Brutus is for now.

We will see what tomorrow brings. Remember life is what you make it.

Thanks for listening. Okay, technically reading.

Kevin

Facts

Facts! You have them or you don’t. I am a fact gatherer. That is my job, but many days the facts that I need are hard to come by. Sometimes I have to use the totality of the circumstantial evidence in order to try to explain what has happened to get a case charged. Prosecutors like facts that are more indisputable, you know, what they call evidence.

Evidence such as photographs found on the bad guy’s cell phone, recorded interviews, DNA evidence, the results of medical tests. That type of evidence or facts is harder to dispute.

Prosecutors do not like hunches, gut feelings, or suspicions. I have to tell families that it is not what I think happened, but what I can prove happened. What theories or hypotheses I might have always go better with evidence.

Now, having a gut feeling or suspicion that something is not right will drive me to work harder to develop the facts. Sometimes it just takes time.

My medical team also likes to deal with facts. You know, such as the fact that no matter which doctor I am seeing they each want me to pee in a bottle at every visit.

Conversation goes something like this: “Mr. Brown would you please pee in this bottle.” “If you hold it still this time I will.” The bottle people!! The bottle!! Get you head out of the gutter.

Sorry attempt at humor, I know.

Anyway, not having the evidence or needed facts can be a problem for my medical team.

If you remember, last time I spoke about the theory developed by my urologist concerning the spread of my cancer. It sounded good, and made sense. Three of the four doctors working on my case at that time agreed it was possible. My oncologist does not agree.

Dr. O wants more facts. He needs evidence. He still wants me to have the second surgery and have the surgeon take out more ribs to hopefully find answers to what is showing up on the scans.

You know that surgery that I cancelled in April basically because I was pissed with the surgeon? Yes, that surgery. I agreed to meet with the surgeon to go over the post operation scans, and to listen to what he had to say.

When Christy and I met with the surgeon it was very different than past meetings. As soon as he walked in, he sat down and wheeled his stool over to me with pad and pen in hand. He sat next to me and explained what had been done in the past and what he wanted to do next. He spoke to me and not Christy.

He started drawing a chest cavity. He put in the ribs and talked about where the scans showed the areas that I had lesions that concerned everyone. He explained this would be a longer and more involved surgery.

We talked about Dr. U’s hypothesis concerning my disease. It made sense to him. He knew what he had seen inside my body during the first surgery, but he would also prefer to have more evidence. He said that Dr. O still wanted more evidence.

The conversation that day was at times gloomy. We all knew what Dr. U’s diagnosis meant if correct. I knew what treatments Dr. O was going to push. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. Cancer sucks.

He told me that he did not know if another surgery would provide the answers we were looking for. He told me that this was my choice to make. He did not need an answer now. He gave me his cell number and told me to text or call if and when I wanted to talk about the procedure. I told him that I would be in touch. We left.

On the way home it was a quiet drive most of the way. We were on the interstate and I was doing my customary 85 mph (I cannot drive 55). I looked over at Christy, and she at me.   She started crying. I reached over and put my hand on her knee and told her that everything was going to be alright. She said to me, “I am having trouble imaging a life without you.” Wow. That hit hard.

She told me that she wanted me to do everything that I possibly could to stay alive. She let me know that I should not be so hard headed and might even do what the doctors ask of me from time to time. I thought I had been. Oh well. Different perspectives I guess.

Now I can deal with an angry Christy, and many times have. What I find hard to deal with is a scared and crying Christy. She had me where she wanted me. She had her say and calmed down. The car again got quiet.

As the drive continued my mind went back to the first time we met. It was near the end of April 1981 my junior year of college.

IMG_7213 (1)

I was living off campus with my friend Ron Hall. It was a beautiful weekend day and finals would be starting soon. I knew that if I stayed at our apartment that I would not get anything done. So we played a game of ice ball to decide how we were going to tackle this conundrum of needing to study, but also wanting to do something outside.

While trying to figure this out we played ice ball in the living room until we ran out of ice. You know you empty all the ice trays and bags if you’ve got them and take turns pitching and hitting. We had a little bat and when we hit the ice we did not have to pick anything up. It just melted. If you got hit with the ice it did sting.

I do not know if I won or lost. It was hard to keep score during those games. All I know is when the ice was gone we still had not figured out how to avoid wasting the day. Playing ice ball is not wasting the day.

We ended up driving to campus to study at the library. That, I thought was going to be a big waste of my day. It was not.

If I had to be at the library I had a table where I normally liked to sit at which was hidden in the stacks of books. Friends knew of my table and would show up for a few words or sit down to also study. So many days it was like a party at the library, but with no one around to tell us to shut up.

That day in April was going to be different. You see, someone that I did not know was sitting at my table. She had not been invited, and even had books spread out. I was looking at her, and Ron asked if I wanted to go find somewhere else to sit. I said, “Hell no that is my table.” Also, she was cute.

I told Ron that we were going to sit there. I also told him that I would bet him a beer that before we left I would have her phone number. Ron took that bet. I now had a mission.

So we sat down and said hello. She moved some of her books to make room. Looking at her books I said to myself “Freshman.” At some point I started talking to her, and she played it rather coy. She acted like I was bothering her. Oh she was a stubborn one.

At some point the cute freshman girl asked me to watch her books while she went to get something to drink. I said sure.

She returned with two Cokes from the McDonald’s across from the library. I was and always will be a Pepsi guy, but hey I drank it.

I knew at that point that this girl wanted me. Why would she risk smuggling in a Coke for me if she did not want our encounter to continue? Drinks were not allowed in the library. If caught she could have been expelled from school (Maybe not, but it does make for a better story). She was taking a great risk to impress me. She could tell that I was worth it.

So while drinking the Coke I took that as study break time. We started talking more. At least I talked more. She was playing hard to get, you know. She looked more and more annoyed. Me? I have often seen women use this tactic.

Remember, I had a bud light riding on this encounter. I would not be deterred.

I told her of a party at Dr. Tom’s residence. He was a management professor who had become a friend and he was having an end of year party at his house. She gave me her phone number. Ron bought the beer.

So I later called and made arrangements to pick her up to go to Tom’s party. She lived in a dorm on campus. When I got there I called up to her room. At that time it was an all girls dorm. Men could not just walk around the place. It is so different now. Thirty seven years too late if you ask me.

Anyway she said that she would be right down. I waited and waited, but still no freshman girl. She was standing me up. Then she came through the front door. I was at the wrong dorm!

She tracked me down. I told you that she wanted me.

She lived over at the Laws, Lathrop, and Jones complex of dorms. They all looked alike to me, and I still do not remember which one she lived in. She found me.

We went to the party and had a good time. Had one more date that semester before she left town to return to her home in Carthage, MO for the summer. Her sister attended summer welcome that year and that freshman girl came with her to see me. She may have even brought a Coke. She wanted me.

My senior year started and now the little sophomore girl started to become a bigger part of my life. She wanted to be with me. I realized at some point that year that I wanted to be with her. The rest is history.

Camden, that is how I met your Nana, and it all started in April 1981, thirty seven wonderful years ago. Now I would imagine that the little freshman girl’s recollection of events might be a little different. Just remember, I have the facts.

What Christy was trying to tell me in that car ride from the doctor’s office was that she was not ready for our thirty seven year ride to end. So I better get with the medical program.

Later I decided to contact the doctor with some questions. I did not want to interfere with his work so I texted. He then called. We spoke a few more times and I then agreed to another surgery.

He wanted to do it ASAP. I said okay, but that I had a fishing trip planned and I would not let surgery interfere with that trip.

He wanted to know when I returned. I told him that I would be back in town on May 21st. He thought that May 22nd sounded like a good day for surgery. I was not terribly excited about the idea, but agreed. We got off the phone and a nurse called me later and told me to be at St. Francis at 6:00 A.M. on Tuesday the 22nd. It was a done deal once again. I was back on the surgery schedule. I then went fishing in Colorado.

When I got home on the 21st I made a short to-do list. One of the tasks on that list was to call mom. Maybe that one can wait. I know. I know. I should call mom, and I did. It was at the top of the list, but was the last thing checked off.

Sometimes, no let me restate that, I always hate talking about cancer with mom. I have tried to shield her from what has been happening the past few years. Whether that was right or wrong, it’s what I did.

Now she knows about this blog. I did not tell her about the blog until about a month or so ago. As a friend pointed out, I have been a bad son. I knew that someone would eventually bring the blog up in conversation with her. That is what happened. I did not tell her until I had to. How do you tell a parent that you are sick and might die? Walking that tight rope has been hard.

Recently she asked me if I felt that I would be able to beat this. I did not have to think about what was the best answer to give her. I did not hesitate or stall in giving my answer. I told her: Yes! YEs!! YES!!! I do think that I can beat this. I am going to beat this.

Whether that is true or not, I do not know, but that is the only answer you can give your mother. (Maybe she will not read this one.)

Life is so precious and in the history of the world we humans are here for so short a period of time with some people here shorter than others. Cancer patients hold no monopoly on dying before their time. It can happen to anyone.

Have I got you in a good mood yet?

In my job I have unfortunately been the witness to a few deaths. The deaths I have witnessed have normally been caused by acts of violence. They did not have to happen.

Years ago an entire neighborhood was out on a hot summer day, but instead of a neighborhood garage sale or barbeque they got into a big ass fight. I and a few other guys were sent to keep the peace. Right?

When I arrived I found this to be a very serious fight involving many people. Some had weapons.

I saw a man lying on his back on the ground. I walked over to him and discovered that he was having difficulty breathing. I let the dispatcher know that I need EMS and Fire with me, but they were not coming into this mess until I and the three other officers with me could get the fight under control and make it safe for them. I was on my own to try to help this man.

I knelt down beside him looking for injuries. I saw none. I saw no blood. He looked at me and wanted to know if he was going to be okay. I told him that he was. I really thought he was. His breathing was getting worse. He did not look well. I asked him what had happened, but he would not talk about what had happened. He just wanted to keep hearing from me that he was going to live.

He stopped talking all together and was gasping for air. I heard him exhale and a gurgling or rattling noise was coming out of his chest and into his throat and out his mouth. His body started shaking. Then everything stopped. His last breath had turned to air.

At the exact same time that I was witnessing this I saw a woman out of the corner of my eye who had walked up and was standing about fifteen feet from us. Her eyes were fixated on the man on the ground. It was like she was in a trance. Her arms were down to her side and I saw that in her left hand she held a large kitchen knife. The knife was resting against her thigh and was pointed down.

Seeing the woman with the knife, I had to get up and leave the man. I walked at an angle toward the woman so she could still see the man. My eyes were darting back and forth from her face to her left hand. I wanted to see if she was going to offer any kind of facial expression that might tell me her intentions. I did not want to get stabbed.

I grabbed her left wrist with my right hand. My left hand then grabbed her hand and my right hand slid down and took the knife.

She finally looked at me and asked if the man on the ground was going to be okay. I told her that I did not know. She told me that the man was her husband. That during this big fight he was attacked by some other men with a baseball bat. She had gone into their house to get the knife so he could protect himself. When she came back out, it was too late.

At this time Fire and EMS were with her husband. He was dead. He had been hit so hard with the ball bat that his aorta had been torn from his heart and he internally bled to death.

The gurgling noise that I heard was what is known as the death rattle. This was the first time I had ever witnessed a man die. It was the first time I had heard the death rattle. Unfortunately it would not be the last.

On that hot summer day all that man wanted from me was an assurance that he was going to live. I told him that he was. I hope that I gave him a little bit of hope before he realized that what I said was bullshit.

I hope that when I tell people that I am going to be okay, it gives them a feeling that I am doing well and confidence that they do not have to worry about me. I cannot help to feel that when I tell people that I am going to be okay, that I am once again dishing out bullshit.

Just like that man all I want is for someone on my medical team to tell me that I am going to live. That I am going to beat this. They have not. I do not expect to ever hear that. I guess they need more facts.

No one knows when their time will come, but death will take each of us at some time. When I play out the scenarios in my head I know that death will ultimately win. But not today! I will not let cancer win today. Each day before leaving the house I tell myself that today is my day, and I am going to make today the best day possible. Going forward, I will do what I think is best for me in order to live the best life that I can.

I hope this surgery will help answer some questions, because I am getting tired of them, and goddammit they hurt!

Before the surgery I wish that I had bet Christy a beer on how things were going to turn out. I have a good history when it comes to betting beers. I live with the evidence. That is a fact.

I will have a surgery update coming later.

Spoiler alert….I live.

Kev

Every One Is Right

So Wednesday night I am home from the hospital wondering when the results of the biopsy/autopsy of my rib will be available. I have an appointment with the surgeon on Monday to learn the results. But do I really have to wait until Monday for the results? I think not.

Christy knows everyone in the pathology department. She will know Thursday which doctor will be assigned to examine my rib. She knows the head of the pathology department and has his personal cell phone number. I think we will know before the surgeon even knows.

The head of the pathology contacts Christy on Thursday. He tells her that the specimen was examined by one of his doctors and no cancer was found. He also examined the rib and found no cancer.

The doctor told Christy they had one more test to run and they would not know the results until Friday. Friday they told her that all tests were complete and no cancer was found. Yahoo!!!

I said, “So much for the cancer surgeon being so confident that my cancer had spread.”

This was great news. I was cautiously optimistic with the results. I am always concerned about what else could go wrong. It just seemed too good to be true with all the pain and discomfort I had been having. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

This time though I was convinced that was not going to happen. I had two pathologists saying they found no cancer. What more did I need?

With the pathology information and many people waiting to hear about the results I posted on Facebook that the tests were completed and Brutus was not found.

It turns out that I was a little premature in my announcement.

We went to KC to see the kids that weekend and had a good time. Except for the trip to Lawrence to watch KU play Villanova, that was not good.

So we get back into town and we have a meeting with the surgeon on Monday to go over the test results. I told Christy to pay attention to who the doctor spoke to while we were there. She did not agree that he had ignored me on our last visit. I told her to just watch.

So once there to meet with the doctor it was just the three of us in the room. No other white coats today. Once again he directed his conversation toward Christy. I found a cosmo something or other to read. I was listening to their conversation.

He spoke about the pathology report and that it was negative for cancer. He showed Christy the report. He did not show me. I was taking a survey I found in cosmo.

Christy told him that she had talked to the pathologist last week about the results. We were happy.

This is when the other shoe dropped or I should say a steel toed boot kicking me in the ass.

The doctor announced that he did not agree with the report. He said that lots of mistakes can be made through the process.

He explained that what he had seen during the operation was bone that had been damaged from cancer. He did not understand why it was not showing up on the other tests. He is a cancer surgeon and he knows cancer when he sees it.

Christy leaned forward and told him that maybe he was the person making the mistake.

Boooyyy things just got interesting. Christy was coming out swinging. She had the doctor backpedaling. She hit him with a right and then a left. She then threw in a hook to the body and an upper cut to the jaw. The doctor was trying to do the famous rope a dope, but it was not working.

The doctor looked at me and tried to engage me in conversation for the first time. His eyes said save me. I do not think he was used to someone questioning him.

I just stretched out in my chair and placed my hands behind my head. I needed popcorn. I was thinking you two go ahead I am fine right here.

Well when the bell rang, and she went back to her corner, the doctor continued.

He explained that he was a cancer surgeon. That is how he made his living. He knows what cancer looks like. I would have used the duck analogy but he continued saying that if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog then it is a dog.

He said that his belief was that the cancer had spread into my bones. He knew that is not what I wanted to hear, but that was what had happened.

Based upon the scans and what he personally saw inside me he said that I had metastatic prostate cancer in my bones. He believed that the disease had spread into several of my ribs.

During the conversation I then learned that he had taken my entire fourth rib. I thought that he only scooped out pieces. He said that the entire rib was diseased and he took it.

Now I thought that he had cut it out. But no, he explained that they have a special pair of pliers and that he just broke off pieces of the rib with the pliers until he had it all.

He then spoke about how he felt that I should have another surgery and that he should take the ribs from my right side that showed possible tumors and have them sent to the pathologist.

This was the surgery that I did not want. This was where several ribs would be taken and he would replace them with some sort of fake rib.

Christy was about to come out of the corner for the next round. I sensed that he felt another ass kicking coming and he pulled out his cell phone and had my oncologist on the phone in a matter of seconds. How did he do that?

He told Dr. O that he had Mr. Brown with him discussing the test results. I heard Dr. O say “Kevin.” It is good that your doctor knows who you are, but it probably is not that good. I sensed that they had already talked about my need for another surgery. Dr. O agreed with the surgeon that I should have the second surgery. They got off the phone.

The doctor continued with his passionate case that I needed the surgery. I gave in. I agreed to the surgery.

We left with the agreement that his people would call my people to set this whole thing up.

Walking to the car Christy made the comment that the doctor at first was ignoring me and only talking to her. I said that he only started talking to me when he became scared of her. I know exactly how that doctor felt.

That was on Monday. On Wednesday the surgeon tracked Christy down in her lab. He told her that he had been talking with several doctors familiar with my case and he had decided that he would rather again operate on my left chest area. That was still the area they were most concerned with. He no longer wanted to operate on the right side.

Once I received that news I called the doctor’s office. I spoke to the lady that does the surgery scheduling. I informed her that any surgery on my body was now cancelled.

He had convinced me that the right side needed attention, and then he changed his mind. What the hell was going on? Enough of this bullshit!! No surgery!

So let’s review what we have so far:

CT Scans and Bone Scans show the disease has moved into my rib bones.

Surgeon: He saw the dog and it was not a little dog, but a big cancer dog.

Pathologists: Well we found no dog.

Oncologist: He still does not want to commit at this time. Great! He is probably a cat person.

Urologist: He is not aware of what has been happening. It is time to pay him a visit.

I credit Dr. U with saving my life. He correctly diagnosed me when Dick did not and performed the cancer surgery.

When this all started, I went to see him for a second opinion and when we met he did a DRE that sent me to the ceiling. I had never had an exam like that. I thought that this meant we were getting married. Put a ring on it doc. I later lay on the exam table waiting on my cigarette. He then told me that I was in very bad shape and needed surgery NOW.

He told me that my cancer had spread out of the gland and that he was very concerned for my welfare.

Dr. U is a little older than I am and much older than my other doctors. He is my Wise Old School Doctor. We get along most of the time. He has gotten a little irritated when I have chosen to follow other doctor’s advice and not his. Still we’re good.

I had lab work done before seeing Dr. U and so the first thing we did when we met was go over the labs.

He gave me great news. He said that my PSA number was zero. He thought that I would never see my PSA drop to zero, but it had. Fist bump time.

Many times I have written about my lab numbers, but I have never explained what they are looking for. They check for several different things, but the main number they are concerned with is the PSA number which stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. A normal prostate will produce this PSA protein. Cancer will also produce PSA. So when you have surgery and have the prostate removed you should no longer have the PSA protein in your blood. If you do, it is a sign that malignant cancer cells have escaped the gland and are producing PSA on their own. I had a very high PSA after surgery. After surgery it should be zero.

Now the number had dropped to zero due to my drug treatments. I am scheduled to go off treatment. I asked how long the PSA would stay at zero. I knew that this was not a question he could answer. I was testing him.

He said that it would be zero until it wasn’t. We both laughed.

No one knows how long the number will stay depressed. It could start going up very soon indicating that Brutus was once again growing and spreading. It could stay depressed for a year, and then return. The drugs have shrunk the tumors to undetectable levels at this time. The tumors are dormant. They are not dead. Brutus will grow again.

We were standing in an exam room when I asked the doctor what he thought of the biopsy results.  He pointed toward the chairs along the wall and said, “Kevin, have a seat.” Not good. He seldom calls me by my first name.

Dr. U does not like to be the bearer of bad news. He avoids it at all costs. His favorite way to avoid tough discussions is to say, “Let’s talk about that next time.” I have had to overcome that before and then turn into an interrogator to get information out of him.

We sat down and the conversation went like this. I will paraphrase. I had to pay attention. Christy was not there.

Doc: When we first met you were in very bad shape. Your PSA is zero today, but it will not stay there. You are not curable and the cancer will return. When it returns it will be in your bones.

Me: Say what doc!?

Doc: Every one is right. Your cancer has spread into your bones. The tests are correct. Your surgeon is correct. The pathologist is correct.

Me: Doc you are going to have to explain that to me.

Doc: The CT Scans and Bone Scans are showing where your bones are trying to heal from the cancer. Your surgeon saw the damage the cancer had caused. It is there. The pathologist could not find the cancer, but the cancer is there. They could not find it, because the drugs you are on have finally been able to get the upper hand and have shrunk the tumors. They have shrunk so small that they are not detectable to the pathology tests. Therefore, negative results from the test. The cancer is there in your ribs. I am sorry. We have drugs and they are coming up with new treatments all the time to help you survive.

The Wise Old Doc had seen this scenario before.

He told me that with hindsight he now believed that the cancer was in my bones before surgery. They were microscopic cancer cells and did not show up on tests. My pain is what has lead to the discovery of the spread of the disease.

His explanation made perfect sense. It definitely was not what I wanted to hear, but finally someone had made sense of what was going on inside my body.

We parted and before leaving the building I made another appointment to see him in a few weeks. At least I think I did. Things were a little foggy as I was leaving.

When I first started this treatment process dealing with the side effects of surgery, radiation, pills, and shots made me sick. The treatments were what made me sick not Brutus. All the complications I was dealing with were manmade.

Now things have changed. The pain I had been feeling in my ribs was caused by the cancer actually attacking my body. Brutus is trying to kill me from the inside.

This is devastating news. I have written about what this type of diagnosis would mean. I will not go over it again. I will just say that my prognosis is terrible, and I do not want to talk or think about it.

I purposely am posting this essay on the weekend so that the great people I work with can read it and adjust. Some might talk with each other. Some might text me. I know this will hit many of them just as hard as it has hit me. Well maybe not quite as hard as it hit me.

Cancer is chaos and I should not be surprised this has happened. It seems things change on a daily basis.

People will want to know what they can do for me. Right now I just need some space.

I am still trying to figure out what is next. It seems like I am on a never ending cycle of scans, blood work, shots, pills, doctor visits and picking up my dry cleaning. Cleaned, pressed and starched. You think I do that shit? Hell no.

Now if I could only figure out how to clean, press, and starch Brutus.

Kevin

Religion

At work my detective partner is named Dave. I take Dave out in the field with me when I think I might get my ass shot off of someone’s porch when I knock. I realize that it might be nice to have a back-up at times or at least a witness to my demise.

Dave’s father is a retired minister. I would say that Dave is probably a little more religious than I. His office is next to mine and we have had some deep discussions at times. A few talks have been about religion or I should say my lack thereof.

With my current situation in mind Dave asked me one day if I ever prayed. I told Dave “No.” I have never in my life prayed for myself. Whether it was about cancer or anything else.

Now I guess I have to qualify that statement, because I think that there have been times in my youth that I have asked God to please make the bed stop spinning and if he could do that for me that I would never again do what I did last night. Also in my youth maybe I have said to God, “Please don’t let her be pregnant!” Maybe or maybe not, college was a good time. I do not think those wishes really qualify as prayer.

I have never asked God for a cure. I have never asked God to stop the pain. I have never asked God for strength. I have never asked God why. Why me? I have prayed for others, just not me. If someone wishes to pray for me I appreciate that very much. I appreciate everyone’s prayers, thoughts, and wishes. They keep me going.

Maybe I should ask God to kick our state legislators in the ass, and get them to increase funding for our schools so that some bright kid might one day discover a way to help people suffering from disease. Yes I might do that.

Some people when reading this will say, “Well Kevin if you prayed you would not be in the deep shit you are now.” Maybe they are right or maybe not. Maybe I will get the opportunity to meet God and when I do I am going to have one question for her: WTF!!

I do know how to pray. Hell I was born and raised Catholic. I went to Catholic grade school and I was an altar boy. I have been a recovering Catholic for about 40 years.

In Martinsburg Sister Mary Peter Damien was my teacher for 1st and 2nd grade. Both classes were in the same room. Sister Mary Black & Decker was the shop teacher. I know old joke, but I still laugh. You must remember that one of the reasons for this blog is to make me laugh, and laugh I will.

When older I would sometimes go to confession in Martinsburg, sometimes in Wellsville, other times in Mexico, MO. I had to try the different churches in order to learn which priest was the most lenient. You know, I needed to know how many Hail Mary’s I was going have to say if I had an affair with the lady next door. Hahaha.

Often I found myself in Mexico on a Saturday and my mother liked to go to confession at the church there. I did not like it there.

The church had more than one priest, and I learned quickly that if you told one of them that you had missed church one week that your penance was automatically going to be to say an entire Rosary. That was a lot praying. You would have thought that I did sleep with the neighbor’s wife. I thought that was a little harsh for missing mass.

The Church had two or three confessional booths. Cannot remember how many, but for this story we will say three. It was my task to try to figure out which confessional booth Rosary priest was hiding.

So I walk into the Church and I can hear Don Pardo yelling out, “Kevin do you want what is behind curtain #1, #2, or #3?” This was a big decision. I had no time for the Rosary. I had to find the right priest. Don would not let me phone a friend for help. I picked #2.

So I get in there and start, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was……”

Then I hear the priest. Ooooh noooo. It is Rosary priest. So that day I decided to add another lie to my lie list and not mention having missed mass since my last confession. I was told to say a couple of Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s and I was out of there in time to get with my friends for a Saturday night party. You know us Catholics.

At college I went to the Newman Center (the Catholic church on campus) a few times. I decided that it was not for me.

Religion never really was an issue until Christy and I were in serious discussions about our relationship future. She was Methodist and she told me that she would not become Catholic or be married in the Catholic Church. Hell I did not care where we got married. I just wanted to have sex.

It did matter a bunch to my Irish Catholic grandparents. So I was able to get Christy to go and meet with a priest. We enrolled in education classes with the knowledge that she was trying to keep peace in the family. We went to class every week with other couples.

The priest made it a point to make sure that everyone abstained from sex before we were married. No problem. Well it wasn’t for awhile. Also the priest would sometimes ask.

You see we were living in separate apartments, but our leases were up one month before the wedding. We found a place and moved in together. This is where we would live after the wedding. Did I mention that it was just a month before the wedding?

I was walking behind Christy one day and she bent over to grab a can of corn. I do not know what happened, but it happened. I could not control myself and we had sex right there. Hopefully the priest would not ask.

So we are back in class a few days later and the priest he asks if we have been abstaining from sex. I guess I could have lied and added that to my tally at confession, but I told him the truth.

I told him that she had bent over for a can of corn and I could not control myself and we had sex right there.

The priest told me that we were no longer welcome into the Catholic Church. I said, “Father that is okay, because we were no longer welcome in Kroger either.”

Hahahaha. Gotcha.

Okay. Okay. That was supposed to be part of an April Fools post but April Fools was on Easter this year. Did not think that was a good time for this post.

Anyway most of what you have read here is very true. Some is not. You figure it out.

I am not trying to challenge anyone’s religious beliefs. I guess I am still on that road trying to figure out my own. Hope I have not pissed off too many friends and family, but at this stage of my life I guess it does not matter.

By the way we were married in the Methodist Church. Seven years and one great granddaughter later my grandmother got over it.

Seriously I am not sure of the existence of Heaven or Hell. I figure that when I die that I will either go to sleep and never, never wake up or wake up in Heaven. I really am not in any hurry to find out, but my money is on the former.

I am spiritual, but do not consider myself church religious. I see God when I see a couple sitting on a park bench holding hands. I see God when people do unselfish things for their fellow man. I see God in the eyes of my Camden. I am in no hurry to leave.

Several years ago I stopped going to church. It did not feel right. No matter how many times good intending people ask I have no plans to ever return.

I do not want to have a church funeral. I would rather have a big party in which I am the host. Video recorded of course. I will welcome everyone there and say sorry I could not be there, but I am dead.

I will have a recording of myself asking questions for a game of Dead Man Trivia. You know trivia questions about me. Questions like who is the world’s greatest band? One of the kids better get that one. I want everyone to have a good time.

Maybe I will see you there. Maybe not.

Kevin

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  Henry David Thoreau

Surgery

In the March 18th post I was talking about needing a rib biopsy and how they were going to give that a try in an attempt to avoid surgery. I had two meetings with the surgeon. The first was with just me and the second one Christy was there. The meeting with Christy present was so different than my meeting. Let me explain.

The doctor was a Via Christi cancer surgeon. Christy works for Via Christi in the lab at St. Francis Hospital.   She has a degree in Laboratory Sciences from the University of Missouri. She is a blood specialist and works with cancer patients who have leukemia and other cancer blood disorders. At St. Francis the color of scrubs you wear designates what part of the hospital you work. When the doctor walked into our room along with several other people in white coats his attention and focus went right to Christy. He could tell from the scrubs she was one of them so to speak. I am not ever sure if he knew if I was there. I was okay with that.

They started talking and it was like I had been sent to the kid table during a holiday dinner. I one time tried to say something, but I think the doctor raised his hand like do not interrupt the adult conversation. All I wanted to know was if they had a ball or something for me to do while they talked about my future.

I later asked Christy what he had said. She said that he told her that I was fucked. Hahaha. You know Christy did not say that. She never uses the F word. Well not often anyway only when she is really mad at me. Who would ever be mad at me? Do not answer that question.

Okay he did talk to me a little. I kid you not it was very little. I guess he needed me to agree to his plan. Christy was nodding her head so I said okay. The plan was to try a needle biopsy and if that did not work I would have surgery.

March 26th was the day they finally set up the biopsy at St. Joe Hospital. I arrived early that morning and met with the radiologist that was going to try to stick a needle into my fourth rib on my left side. Scans had shown that I had a mass, tumor, or lesions on both my left side and on my right side. The word choice, I guess take your pick. I have heard it called all three by different medical people.

They decided to do the left side instead of the right. They were more concerned with the left side because it was the most recent tumor/lesion to show up on the scans. The mass on my left side was very close to my heart and in the back of the rib bone up against my lung. It was going to be a little tricky for the radiologist to get that big ass needle, it was big, into the bone and not punch through it and hit the lung (bad) or the aorta (very bad).

The procedure was done with the use of a CT scanner. They would cut a little then place me into the scanner to see what they were doing and if it was going well. Take me out and do a little more work and then put me back into the scanner to see if things were good. In and out I went over and over. Yes I was awake during the procedure. They numbed me up and I really did not feel anything.

Parts of it were kind of funny. I had to laugh when they brought in what sounded like an impact wrench that you use to change a tire. I even felt my skin being twisted when they put that thing in me.

The doctor was trying to put the needle into me at an angle so that he would not go through the bone and into the lung or aorta. They had everything set up to get me into emergency surgery in case the needle slipped.

The only time it really hurt was each time he actually tried to penetrate the bone. The needle slipped off each time and I would move about a let out a yell. The doctor kept saying he was sorry and told him not to worry about it. I told him thatiIt did not hurt that bad, actually it did, but I wanted him to get it over with and be successful. He finally gave up.

What he needed to do next was to mark the rib so that the surgeon could take the correct one out. He actually put a treble hook into me. It was placed under the rib and a metal wire was attached to the treble hook. The wire would be several inches outside my body and the surgeon would follow the wire down to where he needed to cut. Fishing for ribs.

Now this is not how things were suppose to go. I had no idea that surgery would be done right after if the biopsy was not successful. I do not think the surgeon wanted it that way either. He was on a staycation with his kids. He had to come in on his days off to operate. Once that hook is put into you they have to operate soon. They wanted to operate the next day, but could not get me on the schedule. Wednesday would be surgery day.

I went to recovery after the attempted biopsy, but I wanted out of there. I was able to get them to let me go home. I was out of there by mid afternoon.

I needed to contact my supervisor, Travis, and let him know that I would probably be out of the office the entire week. The pain was actually bad. I was told not to move around so that the hook stayed in place. Like I was going to go on a run or something.

Christy had spoken to Travis and had told him what was going on. I still felt the need to communicate with him.

So I plugged Travis’ phone number into my phone and started texting him. Now in the past for some reason I have not been able to text him. So I started over from scratch and plugged his number into my phone.

This was the first message.

Now we like to have fun with one another and when he said this was not acceptable, I figured that I would play along. So I offered to work a half day. Like that was going to happen.

With his next response I started to get a little irritated and pissed. He was about to make my list.

It is common knowledge around work that I have a list of names that if I am ever told I have six months to live that you better hope you are not on that list. Travis worries that he is on that list. I keep him thinking that. He really is not on it. I like the guy, but he was getting very close to being on that list.

Then when he started talking about Christy I knew he would not go that far. I got to wondering who the hell I was talking to. I checked the number and the last digit should have been a five and I plugged in 6. I was not talking to Travis at all.

How funny. I really enjoyed the humor of the situation.

Travis can rest easy. He has not yet made the list.

Wednesday the 28th was surgery day. I had to be at St. Francis at the ungodly hour of 5:30 A.M.

Surgery was scheduled for 7:00.

So I am in a big pre-op room with probably a dozen people all waiting. I was in an area with a curtain drawn around me and all these people kept coming into the area to talk and then later prep me for the surgery.

The anesthesiologists came by and with him he had Doogie Howser 1. He explained that Doogie was going to be assisting him. I was thinking where the hell did they get this kid? I have clothes older than this kid. Yes my fashion is a little outdated.

Then the surgeon who was assisting the surgeon came by. The assistant was one of those white coats that had been in the room when the doctor was talking to Christy. The assistant to the assistant who was assisting the surgeon I had never seen before. He was Doogie Howser 2. I asked what his role would be. He was going to just observe. Good because I was going to object to Doogie 2 touching me at any time.

My chest was being shaved by a lady and some sort of jelly it seemed was being rubbed all over me. The room was ice cold and so was the jelly, and so were the ladies hands. Each time she touched me I could not stop from laughing. She told me that I was the only patient in the place laughing and that I needed to calm down or all the other patients would wonder what was going on. I could not help it.

I looked under the blanket and then I told the lady that she needed to call hospital security because I needed to make a police report. She asked what I was talking about. I told her that I came in here with a six pack and she had turned it into a jelly belly. She laughed and told me that everyone my age that leaves the hospital leaves with a jelly belly. That did not make me feel better.

So the doctor came by to talk, but by this time they had let Christy back to where I was and of course he was talking to her. That was okay because Doogie 1 had given me something before they even wheeled me out of that room and I was almost off to La La Land.

They wheeled me away and a few hours later I woke in recovery. I went home that night.

In a few days I will talk to you about the results.

Kevin