Sunday, April 30, 2017

Closing Out April with Family and Creek Wading

The kids and I were able to get down to Mom's when my sister Maxine came in from Florida. Andrew and Eler Beth both happened to have that weekend off, so they and Alexandria could go down with me. Thomas had planned to go as well, but at the last minute on the Friday before they scheduled him to work all weekend. 

We had a great visit though. Maxine was the only one of my siblings who hadn't met Alexandria yet. I'd been hoping Alva, Alex's mom, would be able to go down with us, too, but she wasn't able to.  So maybe next time. But at least all of Mom's kids were there, all seven of us.

I surprised the engaged couple with a cake decorated with Alex's two favorite colors, and we had a wonderful dinner, with (eldest sister) Dennice doing most of the cooking this time. I still marvel at how well Alexandria fits into our family. 

I got a picture of the kids with Mom. Who knows how many more years we'll have with my Mother? I need to get down there more often. I managed to visit three times in April, and I'm going to try to get down at least two times this coming month. 

Andrew and Eler Beth wanted to take Alexandria to the creek where I learned to swim as a child, Dorridge Creek (called Dodge Creek, locally), and they wanted her to experience the winding, curvy, steep road to get down to it, so I obliged and drove them there. They waded in the creek and climbed up the banks a few times. Even Alexandria took off her shoes and socks and waded right in. 

Earlier they had taken a long walk down the road and were still gone when dinner was ready, so I took the car and went to get them. I put the passenger window down and told them to hop in, dinner was getting cold. Eler Beth promptly hopped onto the car door at the open window, and Andrew sat on the trunk of the car, telling Alexandria, "Hop on!" She looked dubious and said she'd ride inside, but then he said, "Hop on! This is how we do it in the country!" So she hopped on, and I drove VERY carefully back to Mom's house. (Didn't want to have to explain to Alva how I'd injured her daughter!)  It was funny because Andrew is very much a city boy, although he does love to fish and go exploring in the woods. But it just really sounded funny coming from him. I wanted to say, "How would YOU know how WE do it in the country?" LOL  But later, coming back from the creek, I drove a different route and he began noticing all the "Dowell" names on mailboxes and even road signs -- Coleman Dowell Road, Burton Dowell Road -- and I saw an interest in his roots taking root. Eler Beth has always been interested in her KY roots and has paid more attention when I talk about ancestors and relatives that are no longer with us that were a part of my childhood. Seeing those names caused a feeling of connection in Andrew that I hadn't sensed before. He was so very, very close to my Mom and Dad when he was little and still cries when he visits Dad's grave, and he adores my sisters and brother and the cousins that he knows. But I'd never seen him go deeper into a feeling for family and family history before then. He really paid attention as I pointed out where this or that ancestor had lived.  All in all, it was a nice weekend.

I went back later in the week, just me, and had a wonderful time playing music and singing with my sisters. Going to definitely have to do that more often.

Thomas is doing well. On the 19th he will have the CT scan to map the radiotherapy. Then approximately two weeks later, the therapy will start. We are expecting the best outcome, and so far he doesn't seem to be slowing down in any way, so -- so far, so good!

This isn't much of a post, but I kind of wanted to close out April with something, and this is it!

Hope everyone is doing well.

~~ Lori

Friday, April 7, 2017

C is for ... {sigh}

Over the winter Thomas had his yearly exam which included blood work. The blood work showed his PSA levels were elevated. He had a follow-up in March that showed they were even more elevated, and his prostate was enlarged.

So, C is for Cancer, specifically Prostate Cancer. 

He had a biopsy of the prostate on March 9 -- not a pleasant procedure. Then on the 21st we went in for the results and found they were positive. We were neither of us surprised, but it does still hit, doesn't it? Even when the prognosis is good, and you feel as positive about it as you reasonably can feel, the diagnosis still hits you as a solid blow, doesn't it? 

The urologist was very good. He listened and took his time explaining everything. Out of 12 biopsy sticks, 10 showed cancer. None of the locations had very high numbers. Thomas' age and the lower numbers (T-numbers?) would put him at the low risk level, but because it is throughout the prostate and the fact that his PSA numbers had increased so rapidly between the two blood tests, raised him to the intermediate risk level. 

Three options were put before him -- surgery to remove the prostate, radiotherapy, and a different, new, very expensive surgery that doesn't remove the entire prostate and that most insurances won't cover. Each was explained and later we did our own research as well. The urologist explained that, in his opinion, each option would be as effective as the other, with the main difference being the side effects.

Thomas decided on the radiation.  We met with the doctor at the radiotherapy clinic for a consult on March 28, and he explained what would happen over the next several months. One other optional thing was explained -- a shot that would stop the production of testosterone, which would slow down the cancer cell growth. This would make the radiotherapy more effective, although it would postpone when he will begin receiving the radiation. It isn't "putting off" the treatment, though, because the shot is part of the treatment. 

Now, not to give TMI, but my husband has a very healthy sex drive, so, aside from the whole "deadly cancer" thing, I have to admit, my other main worry was how he would deal with the possibility of any part of the treatment affecting our love life. He never hesitated. He said it made sense to him to get the shot, and that if there was a noticeable diminution (well, that was MY word, not his) in his ability to perform, there are things that can be done to help that situation. So, Monday, April 3, he met again with the urologist, and he got the shot. 

On Wednesday, April 5, we went to the urologist to have three gold markers placed in his prostate for the imaging that will be done next month. That was a procedure very similar to the biopsy, although it didn't take as long and the discomfort was a bit less. We joked about whether they would take the gold out after his treatment or if they'd be part of my inheritance if I outlive him. He will have to remember that they are there any time he has to have x-rays or go through a metal detector.

On May 19 he goes in to have the CT scan, to determine what path the radiation will take to hit the prostate. Approximately two weeks after that he will begin the radiotherapy. That will be every day, five days a week, for nine weeks. They can do late appointments, so he won't even have to take time off from work.  The most common side effect from the radiation is fatigue, but most men, according to both doctors, continue working their regular jobs with no problem.  

The day we got the results, Andrew dropped by just as we were getting home, so we told him and Eler Beth at the same time. Andrew's fiancee and her mother, all of my family, and two other good friends are the only ones we've told. Thomas does not want it going around among our circle of friends or his workmates in general, and he does not want his family to know until after the treatments are finished. His sister who lives near us is quite a drama queen, and he'd probably be ready to strangle her if he had to listen to her going on and on about it every time he saw her. Also, his brother's wife died only a few months ago, and his sister died even more recently, so we figured there was no reason to have them worrying or simply thinking about it at all.  So I'm not posting in general on Facebook, but I have no problem writing about it in my blog. I knew it would probably make me feel better, and I know my J-Land friends -- any who still read this blog -- will be supportive but not oppressive. 

The prognosis is very good, but I have to admit that once in a while I get a bit nervous when it comes to mind. Then I feel silly for that because it is a very curable cancer, and we've caught it early. And for that I have our GP to thank. Before he renewed a prescription for one of Thomas' maintenance medications, he insisted that Thomas come in and have his yearly tests done because he was overdue. It was the blood test and that alone that could have shown evidence of this cancer. At this stage there are no other symptoms. If he'd continued putting it off, and if the cancer growth was as rapid as it appeared to be, this whole story could be totally different. So don't put off getting an annual physical, gentlemen. This is my birth month, and I plan to get all of my yearly things done this month as well. 

Thank you for letting me write about this.

Now, Mary said she hoped that C could be for "Caracal," and I think that's a wonderful idea. The Caracal is that African cat with the long, tufted ears, if I'm not mistaken -- a wonderful, beautiful bit of creation to write about! As a matter of fact, I'll close this post with a Google image of one.

Until next time  ~~ 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

C is for....






Guess which one I'm going to write about.