Life Changing Moments

Always in Treatment

Ken BurgerCancer can be an inconvenient conversation.

People want to know how you’re doing, but they might not be ready for all the gory details. It’s like driving by a bad accident on the highway. You can’t help but look but hope you don’t see anything ugly.

The details of your new life, therefore, often are condensed into a few precise words.

“Never been sick; always in treatment.”

That’s my shorthand answer for those who are casually interested in what the past seven years of my life have been like. Because they really don’t want to know about your surgery, the radiation, and hormone therapy, and transfusions, and chemo and whatever comes next.

For me, it’s been an interesting ride. Mainly because my prostate cancer always has been a number on a sheet of paper. The PSA (protein specific antigen) in my blood tracks the advance or retreat of cancer in my body.

Low is good. High is bad. Simple as that.

Lately, it’s been moving up, which it has done before. So we hit it with a medical mallet, the latest clinical trial, the newest medicine and hope it goes back down.

We’ll see.

I just finished six weeks of a new treatment called Provenge, which used my white blood cells to jump start my immune system. Did it work? We’ll never really know. There is no technical measurement. If you’re alive, it’s working.

Meanwhile, we move on to the next treatment. Oral chemo.

But if I see you at a cocktail party, the answer you’ll get is, “Never been sick; always in treatment.”

It’s just easier that way.

By: Ken Burger, former Post and Courier sports columnist and local author. Reach Ken at

Editor’s note: Ken Burger is writing a series of blog posts about his current Provenge treatment for prostate cancer. This is the third in the series. Missed the first post? Read Milestone Moments now. 

3 thoughts on “Always in Treatment

  1. I can empathize with the entire process. Diagnosis, assumptions, androgen deprivation treatments, failed surgery, more treatments… And then there is the yo yo of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) numbers. But don’t forget about the new information on dietary methods to prevent absorption of the unwanted testosterone elements from beef, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb and on and on. Fish seems to be the least offensive – so long as it is caught way off shore! So. iChat fun, so little time!

  2. I love the fact that this person can still add humor to his writings, especially writings of his own “serious” matters. It’s almost like taking a bite of your favorite dessert – can’t stop at that one bite because you are looking forward to the next one.

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