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Archive for October, 2012

hard times for PCa

I’ve met some good men who’ve shared my journey with advanced prostate cancer, some in person and others via blogs and Facebook. It’s been difficult in the last two months to see three of these men pass on.

During the first week of my whole brain radiation, Terence Luttrell died after enduring several months of painful metastasis. Terence had been diagnosed in 2009; he had a short and difficult experience with treatment, having been in an advanced stage at diagnosis. Terence and his wife Sherry maintained a memorable blog, expressing their faith and describing his medical treatment in detail right up to the end. It was often painful reading but so very meaningful, given their amazing expressions of optimism and faith. It hurt to read about Terence’s death at a time when I was still reeling from my diagnosis of brain mets. While I didn’t know him personally and rarely commented on their blog, it felt like a personal loss.

Five weeks later I heard that Stan Brewer passed away. I had met Stan at a men’s cancer support group in Salt Lake city not long after my diagnosis. Stan was a kind and thoughtful man, and remembered my family from the early 1970s when we lived in Olympus Cove. He kept that support group going for I don’t know how long, sending out e-mail reminders, always with a corny joke. His last email was in August, and while I didn’t go to the group very often, it was a shock to hear of his death because the last time I saw him, he looked a bit tired but not particularly unwell. Stan was never one to complain, so I don’t know that he would have said anything about failing health anyway.

A really difficult loss is that of David Emerson, who is something of a legend in prostate cancer awareness and fund-raising for research. David was diagnosed two years before me, at 42 years of age, and had gone through all kinds of treatment and clinical trials. He was an exemplary blogger, with lots of details about his diagnosis and treatment, and had created a nonprofit group (Faith-Love-Hope-Win) in Kansas City that hosted all kinds of fund-raisers for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. David was known around the country as a leader in advocacy efforts and spent much time on e-mail lists giving hope and information to men dealing with advanced prostate cancer. I learned so much from him as I was trying to make sense of my metastatic disease and figure out what to do in terms of treatment.

David’s blog went quiet after a late-August announcement that he’d been approved for the Medivation MDV-3100 expanded access trial, something that many of us had been looking forward to. As it turns out, even that new treatment was not enough to keep David going, and on October 2 his wife sadly announced that he was going off treatment due to extensive tumors in his chest and that he would be in hospice care. Three days later, David was gone.

That’s the painful dark side of this prostate cancer experience: it’s been such a blessing to get to know men who are optimistic and committed to getting the best possible treatment, but the reality is that we lose these compatriots as well. Rest in peace, Terence, Stan, and David. Your examples have given me so much in the last few years.

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