One PSA Test and Tomorrow's Funeral
As regular readers .. all two of you .. probably recall, I had prostate cancer, and subsequent surgery, in 2008. However, the PSA didn't reduce much post-surgery, and the ensuing scans revealed a greatly enlarged lymph node in the same area. I went on Lupron right then, and also began 39 Tomography X-Ray treatments, concluding in January 2009.
My PSA has been generally zero since then. However, in December of 2010, I spent a few days in the hospital owing to a severe bladder infection, coupled with bigtime dehydration. At that time, they did every kind of blood test imaginable .. all of which results were abnormal (owing to the infection).
Sepsis does that, apparently.
When they found lots of things in the abdomen to be enlarged, I pointed out the details of the prostate adventure, so they immediately ran a PSA test. At that time, it was 0.01. So something was producing an infinitesimal amount of the antigen. My urologist-surgeon consequently began regular PSA monitoring, after that.
It's been 0.01 until mid 2012, when it elevated to 0.15. Then this past November, it showed up at 0.2. This week's test returned 0.3.
For those who aren't familiar with this, PSA is a prostate-specific antigen, produced by abnormally growing prostate cells. 0.3 would be a wonderful number for a guy that still had a prostate gland. Since I ain't got one no more, it's indicative of something going on. There are some other rare things that could cause it, but there's a good chance there are still some of the cells lurking out there in the lymph systems, cranking out the antigen. Hence there's no prediction possible as to where it might go. But the doctor said the increase wasn't even enough to indicate I should start hormone treatments.
By way of information, my PSA pre-surgery was 5.0, and 4.1 after the surgery. So the level is really really low at this time.
So here's the deal: Matt Chandler did some posts about his episode with a brain tumor. In one of them, he commented on the support from some of his members, who'd experienced cancer. And, in an unexpected (for him) development, some of the folks that had experienced a cure of their cancer had said they felt they'd "lost something" when told they no longer had cancer. That its presence had led them to count every day precious, and when that factor was removed, it was all too easy to forget that preciousness.
Matt said it was a real-life reflection on the truth of Psalm 90:12, which says, in the NIV:
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
I have personally found that to be true in my life. Facing one's own mortality is a great way of keeping your focus on what matters, and that's not the number of my days. Personally this experience has done two primary things .. one is the previously-mentioned treasuring of our days, and the other is a renewed passion for teaching. Not that I have a passion to stand up in front of a bunch of folks and talk, but I really want the Bible to impact lives, in practical ways it took me entirely too long to learn.
One of my favorite movies is "A Family Thing". It had a lot of profanity in it, but the real money line of the movie was Robert Duvall's statement to a conflicted young man:
"Happiness ain't nuthin' more than havin' somethin' to look forward to".
I agree with that. And it rings clear in the passing of Dot Meacham just this week. As I write this, her funeral will be tomorrow.
For the 32 years we've been at FBC Pelham, Dot and Edgar have been a model couple. Very devoted to one another. Always paying attention to their spouse. Always active in the life of the church .. Edgar particularly taught men's classes for more years than I can track. But now, with Dot's passing, and Ed in a wheelchair owing to recent surgery, the life they had together for 69 years, as they knew it, is over.
My hope .. my prayer .. for Edgar is that there will be things in his life that will give him something to look forward to, here on earth. Ed's in his early 90's, and my hope is that the wisdom and perspective he has aren't wasted .. that God will put him in a position to, and the heart & motivation to, share what he has, that so very few have. I know God has ways to use Ed in His Kingdom work, and I hope God shows the way for that to happen.
Impacting lives for Christ. I can't think of a better thing to look forward to....