Archive for the ‘hormone deprivation’ Category


(Flickr image borrowed from Sebastian Mamy's photostream)

Time is getting away from me this month. I’m deep into my androgen deprivation therapy, and while I’m physically in decent enough shape, and mentally I’m mostly there, it’s motivation that’s severely lacking. I just don’t care enough to take on a new project or even write blog entries. Lost in the fog.

My cancer support group had an interesting discussion a couple weeks ago about hope, which is always a topic of interest. What is “hope” anyway? Most people assume that it’s about a positive outcome. So we who have cancer are told to have hope, to stay positive, to have a fighting spirit. And then people like that bicyclist with the bright yellow logo come along and act as if all you have to do is want to be healed and you will be. Sure, it’s great to have examples of people who beat cancer. (It would help to have millions of dollars so you could consult with the best oncologists anywhere in the world.) It’s amazing to see new treatments come along that are highly effective. But the good stories can set up the expectation that if you don’t beat it, you somehow didn’t want it badly enough. Which really is a way of putting the blame on the person with cancer. “C’mon, chump, if you still have cancer you obviously want it…”

Hope, for me, is to find the best way to live given the circumstances you have. There are limitations everywhere in life (and please don’t get me started on the law of attraction and related BS). Sometimes we do create the limitations, but mostly they are just there. My perspective on life is that we are in one phase of existence (that this is not the only existence we will have) and knew going into it that there would be unpredictable, sometimes unpleasant and painful circumstances. For me the challenge is to stop finding someone or something to blame, to stop whining about the raw deal I got, and get on with making the best of whatever I have. I will have increasing limitations on my physical health, but at every stage there are always choices I can make to live happily within those limitations. That is my definition of hope.

When things get a little dicey for me, I have a few reminder sayings that I use to get my thinking back on track. Today, I’m thinking about one of them. It came to me when I was doing my deep-relaxation thing, wanting to figure out where my direction in life would be coming from. I was feeling unfocused and stressed about a bunch of things. And the answer came through clearly: Look to the horizon. So I do that, when I’m too focused on the little things. I stop and literally look to the horizon. There’s where the future is: I can’t see the details, but the horizon is still there, and I can still keep moving toward it.

(p.s. As noble as all that sounds, I do reserve the right to whine now and then.)

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in a fog

(borrowed from Flickr)

This month, I got off to a good blogging start. But in the last couple of weeks I’ve gradually lost interest. Just haven’t had anything to say. It looks like the fog is settling in.

The standard accepted treatment for metastatic prostate cancer—the kind you can’t remove with surgery or nuke with radiation—is androgen deprivation therapy. There are a few drugs available that shut down your pituitary gland’s signals to the rest of the body to produce testosterone. When they kick in, after about two weeks, you lose most of the male hormones (androgens) in your body. That slows the cancer cells from growing, since they are largely dependent on androgens for growth.

So we all like to joke about the hot flashes and mood swings, since this treatment puts the body in a state similar to what women go through in menopause. But the thing you don’t hear about is that taking away testosterone changes your mental and emotional state, and not just in the obvious ways. Men react differently to this change, and for me, the most disturbing thing is that I get (first) apathetic and tired, mentally tired; then (by the second month) my thinking goes foggy. I find it difficult to read a chapter in a book and retain much of it, or even remember by the end of the chapter what the first part was about. If I don’t stay on top of this whole experience, I end up in a dark depressed state, not really caring about much of anything.

It looks like the fog is coming. I’m just not going to be as clever and quick-witted as I always thought I was.

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