Monday, February 22, 2010

Patience Test

Who wants to know what it is like to wait for results? Someone smarter than I at NBC came up with this “patience test.” The idea was to broadcast a major US West Coast event live to the East Coast and on a three-hour delay to the West Coast. In this way they could see how many people out West do not watch NBC’s delayed coverage versus the East Coast people who do watch it live. That made perfect sense to someone.

One of the potentially unsettling aspects of proton beam therapy for prostate cancer is waiting for the results. In my case I am 74 days post treatment and I do not know if it worked. I imagine that is why some people choose against PBT. I admit I am one to look at the Olympic Games results live and online rather than wait for the 3-hour tape delay outcomes.

My first scheduled post treatment check up is on April 5th where I will hopefully find out if my PSA level is going in the right direction. I have been told that at the four month check point my PSA level should be about half of what it was prior to treatment. That downward trend should continue over the following 20 months. At that point my PSA level should arrive at what is called my “nadir” or the lowest point where it will level off.

If you have been following along you have been exposed with me to a whole new lexical world with words like “nadir” mentioned above. PSA used to be an airline company. Not any longer. The prostate gland was a mythical part of the anatomy that only manifested itself when the airline company ran into trouble. When I find myself in a group of people who have walked this same path it is funny how you throw around terms like “Gleason Scores” and you know what each other is talking about.

A year ago I was oblivious to this new language. Like any other foreign language, personal exposure is the best teacher. In order to survive in the hostile world of cancer you learn the language and forge ahead. Part of that forging involves waiting. Had I chosen surgery for my treatment path, I would know now whether or not I am cancer free. But then again I would be dealing with other issues.

For now I am content to wait. After all, is not patience a virtue (unless, of course you live on the West Coast)?