For one thing, I’m more and more cautious about labeling myself a survivor. I know it’s used a lot to congratulate people who have beaten back the disease through various treatments, but it can be a slippery slope.
For one thing, cancer has a way of coming back, often with a vengeance. When you’ve seen that happen to a friend or family member, you suddenly become wary of claiming victory over a disease for which there is no cure.
Personally, I feel like I’ve been on a medical honeymoon with cancer for more than six years. I was diagnosed in 2007 and underwent surgery to remove my prostate, hoping that would solve the problem. For a while, everything was fine. Until it wasn’t.
When my PSA (prostate specific antigen) started inching up, my doctors sent me to radiation. That involved 33 treatments over seven weeks and didn’t hurt a bit. The goal was to kill any microscopic cancer cells that might still be in my body. And for a while, everything was fine. Until it wasn’t.
The next step came when my oncologist put me on hormone therapy and I took three pills (Cassadex) a day to keep the numbers from rising. That worked for almost two years, until it didn’t anymore.
Now I’ve graduated to the next level of hormone therapy called Lupron, a shot I receive every four months. And so far, so good.
The point is from the day I was diagnosed I am yet to feel sick. I’ve been able to stiff-arm cancer thanks to medical research and have several more options at my disposal when and if this one doesn’t work anymore.
Down the road, who knows? I only know I often feel guilty when talking to other cancer patients who have been through chemotherapy and other harsh treatments because I’m yet to suffer. I realize, of course, my day will come.
Until then, I’ll enjoy the honeymoon.
By: Ken Burger, former Post and Courier sports columnist, prostate cancer survivor and local author