Any day above ground is a good one

Welcome

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 3:48 pm

I am Daniel Rahenkamp and I was diagnosed with prostate cancer on 10/31/05. Halloween. Welcome to my blog about my travels down the trail of treatment for my prostate cancer. The story starts in August, 2005 and works it’s way back to present time . Use the calendar on the left sidebar to navigate through the blog. Dates that have entries will be in bold. If this is your first time here you might want to start at the end of the blog and read it backwards. My wife Paula is also adding postings about her feelings on how my cancer is effecting her. I hope it helps you or someone you know. If you have comments please leave them because they do help us.

PLEASE add yourself to our Frappr map as we would LOVE to know where our readers are from.


March 27, 2007

One Year Check Up

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 6:26 pm

Yesterday I went down to the Dattoli Cancer Center to see Dr. Sorace for my one year since seeds exam. Paula has been nervous about this appointment when she heard that my PSA had gone up to .2 from .0125 since my last test in September. I really was not concerned because I felt that I was still under the influence of the hormone treatment I was on.

Well they did the works on me a CT scan, where they took a bunch of images, which I never saw. Then Paula and I spoke to Dr. Sorace where we brought up the increase in PSA and we were told not to worry, as my PSA is not fully stable yet. PSA also bounces or goes up several times after seeding and is fully normal.

Then I was subjected again to the blue STURRIPS where I had another color Doppler ultrasound. There is a large flat panel color screen right over your head and you can see what the doctor sees. Last time I had this procedure there were several red clusters all over my prostate that indicated the blood flow that was feeding the cancer. This time NADA!!! I can tell you that it was a powerful image for me. NADA cancer!

I will have to have blood work done every four months and then return in one year. This is how I will be keeping track of time when it comes to my life with cancer. Each Spring I will think of a year of life and not death.


March 12, 2007

Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 6:46 pm

Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying, that has always been one of my favorite quotes from The Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne tells Red to get busy living or get busy dying. I have been doing that since my last post, at least the get busy living part. I have needed some distance from the blog, first because of the Christmas holidays with the friends, family and parties, and then because I just needed the break from being immersed in the thoughts of my own cancer.

During my hiatus I have fallen back into the routine of my life and I have found that the thought of cancer is not as ever-present as it once was. But from time to time I have been jolted back into the reality of that which is called Cancer. Since my last post I have had three friends find out they have cancer. Two with lung cancer and one with salivary gland cancer. It was jolting to me each and every time I heard about another friend having to meet this sobering reality but not as jolting to me as it use to be. I use to be scared to death of the mention of the word but now I am not and I have tried to help my friends with the knowledge of my experience.

I find it startling how many of my friends are dealing with cancer, or perhaps I am just noticing more. I want to think that because of my age it is just that time in one’s life when illnesses start to capture many of us. In any case I have heard more and more the stories of other peoples cancer instead of my own. Not that I have anything much to say as my health has been good and getting better. I am due for my one year since seeding exam on the 25th ( Woo Hoo!! ) at the Dattoli Center and I have been getting blood work done to get ready for that exam. I have high confidence that my results from my exam will be good but time will tell. I can tell that Paula is becoming anxious as my appointment approaches and I don’t think that she has the same trust that I do. I do know she has a lot of fear regarding my health and for that I can only tell her there is no tomorrow, only today, and today I am fine.

I have always meant for this blog to be my story of my Prostate Cancer and only that. I never wanted it to evolve into anything else like a clearinghouse for prostate cancer information, just my story that’s it. And because many people are finding this site and spend a considerable amount of time here I feel that this blog is helping people through the fog of having prostate cancer. This is enough for me. So as time goes by and my exams are all good you may find my postings becoming farther and farther apart as I get busy living …..


October 31, 2006

365 Days Ago I Heard - “You Have Cancer”

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 6:05 am

One year ago today, on Halloween it was Trick or Treat for me, I received the worst news anyone can hear delivered in the worst possible way. “You have cancer. “ I actually had a hint of what the news was going to be because of all of the testing and the biopsy that I had. But I had not heard or seen the actual word cancer yet; I was still delusional with the slim hope of a cancer free biopsy. I was sure that it was a trick and I wanted the treat.

I had up to that moment in time always been terrified of the results of cancer and definitely didn’t want to see myself in any of the stages of cancer that I had witnessed in my life. The frailness, the wasting away of the body, the inevitability of death, it petrified me. And here I found myself hearing those words about me, it was like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.

But here it is a year later; I’m awake from my dream and cancer free. I am lucky in so many ways. I’m lucky that I had the habit of getting a physical each year that is how my cancer was first noticed. I was lucky that Paula, my wife, is a researcher and got me very informed about prostate cancer. I was lucky that she stumbled upon information about the Dattoli Center. I was again lucky in the fact that the Dattoli Center with the best possible doctors I could ever hope for were a mere 70 miles away. Yes I am lucky and I have the treat of the rest of my life.

You my readers are most probably in the same boat I was in just one short year ago. You are scared and seeking information about prostate cancer. You are doing the first right thing and that is getting informed. You have some time with prostate cancer, as it is a slow growing cancer. So get informed and try to get information that is unbiased. You will quite often hear the information that the doctor wants you to hear. Quite often the word surgery if you are going to an urologist. So first get a second opinion and try to get all of the facts that you can from as many sources as you can and then make the decision of the form of treatment that is best for you and your situation.

Lastly please don’t hold the fact that you have prostate cancer so close to your vest that people don’t know about your situation. Cancer needs to have light shed on it and exposed so other people are less fearful of it and better educated about it. I myself did not fully understand about prostate cancer and prostate health and I consider myself very well informed. There is no excuse for this so please be the one who informs your friends and family about this cancer so they do not receive the trick that we have received.


October 29, 2006

Down In The Dumps

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Paula @ 10:05 pm

Dan is very depressed these days. His energy level is extremely low. It is what it is, and there is not a darned thing I can do to help. He has told me so.

Halloween will be one year since he got the diagnosis. I have given up trying to figure out what is going on in his mind.

Dan is more remote than he used to be. He doesn’t laugh like he used to laugh. It is so frustrating to not to be able to do anything for him.

He says he just wants to be left alone. Hopefully, he will find a way out of this depression.

We all deal with our emotions differently. I talk and write and cry. What helps me may not be of any help to another. All I can do right now is stick by Dan.

That is all I can do.

Paula


October 8, 2006

Back To The Front Of My Brain

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 11:17 am

On the 22nd of September I went for my three-month check up at the Dattoli center. I had the usual blood and urine test, CT scans etc. I was surprised this week when I received a letter from the Dattolli center with the following ominous note in it:

The purpose of this correspondence is to provide a copy of your urine cytology with a prescription to have this test repeated due to the presence of "atypical", possible pre-cancerous cells. These cells are not considered normal, however they are NOT cancerous at this testing. It is MANDATORY that you have this test repeated in six months time as a follow up to this finding and to rule out the potential for bladder cancer!

Needless to say this got my attention. When a letter from a doctor’s office comes in the mail and it is annotated with quotations, "atypical" and things capitalized, NOT and MANDATORY, not to mention an exclamation point at the end of a sentence that ends with the words bladder cancer. Yes it got my attention, real fast.

I called the doctor the very next day to get his alarming letter cleared up as the copy of the test from Bostwick labs stated that the overall test returned negative results but showed:

Rare single and clusters of mildly to moderately atypical urothelial cells: this may represent a reactive process, but neoplasm should be considered. Clinical correlation is indicated.

Upon talking to a nurse she indicated to me that this occurs with many of their patients and is cause by the great deal of radiation that we receive. My urologist also scoped me just before I got my seeds and it showed no signs of bladder cancer. So I will be going back in six months for my next test which we hope will be clear at that time. But in the mean time I am left thinking more about my cancer than I recently have been…. Was I engaged in wishful thinking?


October 2, 2006

Watching From the Shore

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Paula @ 7:26 am

Quite some time ago I made a decision not to post on this blog for awhile. One of the things that a serious illness does to a relationship is create more tension. DUH!

Writing often on this blog only made me think even more about the cancer. I was already thinking about it too much.

Sometimes I felt sort of guilty about not sharing in the blog. Dan even asked me a couple of times why I had stopped posting. The bottom line is that I also have a life, and Dan’s illness was already so big in it that I decided to avoid the parts of it that I could. This blog is one of those parts.

Several years ago Dan and I went white water rafting. Our raft capsized in the middle of a part of the river that is called HELL’S HOLE. I was caught UNDERNEATH the raft. Dan and our two companions were able to swim to shore. I first worked to get out from underneath the raft, and then I struggled to swim to shore, but I kept getting sucked down under the water because of the whirlpool.

After I was saved by one of leaders of the excursion, Dan told me that I, indeed, almost drowned. He told me how frightened he had felt. I replied that it was strange, but I did not have time to be afraid because I was fighting the whole time.

Sometimes living around cancer is like that maybe. I mean the one with the illness is in the whirlpool busy fighting, and the others are helplessly watching from the shore.

I am watching from the shore, and sometimes I need to get away because I just can’t stand it.

Later,

Paula


September 24, 2006

Three Months Down, A Lifetime To Go

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 12:41 pm

I went for my three-month post treatment checkup on Friday. I was fully checked out with several CAT scans, blood work and a physical exam. All showed nothing of interest to Doctor Sorace. I was particularly interested in the DRE, not that I like or enjoy the exam but it was what Dr. Sorace had to say about it. When he did his first exam on me when I first came to the Dattoli Center I had an enlarged prostate with a hard nodule on one side of it. On Friday he specifically said it was small and smooth. Just like it should be. So now I go back in 6 months and if all is good at that exam then I will be going yearly back to the Dattoli Center. This was all great news for me.


August 15, 2006

I went to seen Dr. Iezzi today…

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 5:22 pm

Went to see my general practitioner today for my annual physical. My annual physical is where this blog started just one short year ago. That is where I first started to get an inkling that I might have a problem. From this single visit to my doctor my life changed and I started down the path to find out how to regain my health again. I am SOOOO glad I make it a habit to have a physical in August. Had I not then I would have been blissfully unaware of what was growing inside of me. Ignorantly going about my business until it was way too late to do anything about my cancer in any medical way. I would have become a statistic of the most unpleasant sort.

But I chose to be informed by tending to my basic health by regularly seeing my doctor. I chose to read as much as I could to educate myself about this disease. I chose to fire my first urologist because of his behavior. And I chose to go to a doctor for treatment that was 75 miles away, because he was the BEST in his field. I also chose to listen to everyting my doctors said to do and then DID it.

Well I am in good health and my PSA was again at trace levels. I still have some minor urinary issues but these too will get better with time.

Just listen to your doctors and do what they tell you and you too may feel as happy as I do today. It is your choice.


August 6, 2006

Wow it has been a while….

Filed under: My Cancer Story — Dan @ 9:30 am

It has been a while since I posted… a month! Man PCa has obviously not been on my mind! When I last posted I was about to return to Michigan to finish my summer vacation. My wife’s aunt who lives down the way from us was going to celebrate her 80th birthday and a wedding was going to occur during the time I was to be in Michigan. Hoards of my wife’s relatives descended on us and we spent most of our time hanging out and having a great time with them. Little time to dwell on PCa. This was a different mindset for me and to me an indicator that perhaps I am putting this thing behind me, “somewhat”.

While it will never quite leave my thoughts and me it as been good for me to indulge in the present. I am not spending my time researching PCa on the Internet. I am not thinking about my treatment. I am just doing what I do.

While I am sure many of my readers are looking for information about PCa and how to deal with it, I am sure that they will delight it the fact that there is an end to the fear, the Doctor’s, the procedures, and the all consuming thoughts of this cancer.

I also received some good news since my last post; I got my blood work back. This blood work included my first PSA test since this whole ordeal started and it was at .001. Barely trace amounts!! While it is still pretty soon since my last radiation treatment and since I stopped my hormone treatments, it was GREAT to see it in black and white. Perhaps that is reason enough to take a rest spa from posting. I was giddy.

But now I am back in the world of reality and I am reminded of this because I just set an appointment with my GP Dr. Iezzi to have my annual physical. This was how this whole blog came to life last year, as this is how I found out about my cancer.

If you take one thing away from reading this blog, please let it be this… GO GET YOUR PHYSICAL AND GET YOUR PSA CHECKED.


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