Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

We learned something this weekend.  Marshall has a lot more energy than he thought he did.  I think it's probably just a matter of what he's doing.  :)

He left on the Harley on Friday (we went to breakfast first).  His first stop was to visit a friend in Pueblo.  Then he made a stop at the Harley dealer in Colorado Springs.  Then he ended up at our friends' (Jim and Char's) home in Golden and they were kind enough to let him make their home his Command Central for the weekend.

On Saturday he took a ride to scope out the location of both the artist who's going to paint the bike, as well as the location of the safe riding class he was taking on Sunday.  The artist wasn't home but he made an appointment to see him on Monday.

Then later in the day his nephew Kevin (and Kevin's fiance Angie) came over to Jim and Char's to visit for a while and Char was so gracious and cooked dinner.  She also took a picture of Marshall with Kevin & Angie to email to me and here it is:
On Sunday he was up nice and early and spent the entire day at the safe riding course, then back to Jim and Char's.  He hasn't been having this kind of sustained energy at home, so the Harley is definitely giving him energy and motivation! 

This morning he was going to spend some time with the artist and then head home.  He should be back mid-afternoon.  My thanks to Jim & Char for giving him such a nice weekend.  Every time I talked to him he didn't mention any pain or any hot flashes or any fatigue.

I also enjoyed my weekend.  It was nice and peaceful and I got a lot of things done that I've been ignoring.  I also puttered in the greenhouse and everything is still growing!!  If you look close you can see a strawberry ripening....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bike trip

Marshall is leaving tomorrow morning for a bike trip to Denver for the weekend. He's going to visit some good friends and he'll try to see his nephew as well. On Saturday he's going to go up to Westminster and see the artist who is going to paint the bike to start the design process. And on Sunday he is taking a safe riding class for the trike.

I am going to stay home and be blissfully lazy! Except for tomorrow -- tomorrow is the pet food distribution at the Share Center. When that's over I'll get lazy.

I'm still dealing with a painful lump under my right jaw that the doctors think is a salivary gland infection. I've been on antibiotics for a week now and it hasn't gotten better. Ugh.

Marshall has been having some bone pain but it doesn't last long. We will bring that up at our next appointment on June 11. And his hot flashes have gotten way worse. They really knock him for a loop. He still has fatigue from his treatments and the hot flashes make the fatigue much worse. You should see him at Walmart on one of those riding carts!!

We saw the ophthalmologist on Wednesday for his last followup visit after the cataract surgery and everything is fine. He is very pleased at the improvement in his eyesight.

With regard to his application to the VA for Agent Orange benefits, the good old VA lost the paperwork and we have to re-file. He will do that when he gets back next week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Girls' Day Out

Today I spent the entire day bumming around Canon City with a girlfriend.  Glenda and I shopped, ate lunch and shopped some more.  A very fun relaxing day. 

Marshall spent a lazy day at home.....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend of changing weather

Friday was beautiful and we took a ride on the Harley over to Barry's Den in Cotopaxi for breakfast.  Couldn't have asked for better weather.

Saturday started out gorgeous so Marshall took the motorcycle and rode over to a beautiful lake where he was going to do some fishing.  By the time he got there, the weather had started cooling down, so he didn't stay long (and didn't do any fishing).  Just as he got home it started raining and the temperature was dropping.

Then last night we had a 10-minute hailstorm, hail the size of peas. By the time it was done, there was a few inches of hail on the ground.

This morning was cloudy but then the day turned nice and sunny.  We went to breakfast, did a little yard work and then finished up the design work on a brochure that Marshall wants to start carrying with him to pass out so that he can try to alert men to the fact that prostate cancer is not always slow growing.  It can be very aggressive.  The brochure turned out pretty nice.

We checked the greenhouse and the green beans are coming up (very exciting for me, I've never had a garden before).  The spinach is also coming up.

So we are both tired and ready to settle in for a quiet Sunday night! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marshall's dental appointment went well

The dentist agreed to squeeze Marshall in today (after we missed yesterday's appointment). This was the appointment that the oncologist wanted him to have before he begins the Zgeva bone strengthener in July. Once the Xgeva is started he will not be able to get dental work done because the Xgeva can cause jaw problems. The oncologist wanted Marshall to get any needed dental work done now.

But happily, the dentist said everything looked good and no work is necessary.

Then I had my appointment with the dentist and I have a salivary gland infection. How weird. So I had to drive over to Canon City to get an antibiotic prescription filled. We sure are having our fill of doctors.

On another note, the greenhouse is still doing really well. Nothing else has died and everything looks healthy. It will be so awesome if we are able to successfully grow our own veggies. Tomorrow I'll try to take a few photos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I finally cracked....

This week has been a disaster. We had several doctor appointments, as well as the Prostate Cancer Support Group meeting, and I had every one of these things in my calendar on the wrong dates.

With regard to the doctor appointments for me, that's no big deal. I can reschedule. But we've been waiting WEEKS for this support group meeting. When we walked into the Dorcy Cancer Center and the lady said, "Oh, that meeting was last night," I lost it. You would think that I never handled anyone's calendar before.

Anyway, now we wait another month for that meeting.

But one good thing happened. We went by a friend's house while we were in Pueblo and we met a guy named Roger who rides a Harley and who belongs to a Viet Nam Veterans' motorcycle club, so Marshall is probably going to join that club. So we didn't make the cancer group but we discovered a veterans group. I guess that made the day a little better.

But not because of me, that's for sure....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gorgeous sunny day, perfect bike weather

Yesterday, Marshall had an intermittent pain in his left leg, a place where there has been no pain thus far, so we allowed ourselves to worry for a few moments and then moved on.  We will see Dr. Flaig on June 11 and we can bring some of these things up to him then.

Today dawned an absolutely gorgeous Colorado sunny day, so Marshall decided to take a nice long ride.  He took me to breakfast first, so I followed him in the car and got a few very cool pictures.  This is the Harley in its brand new, plain old black, paint job.  In another month or so, it will be stunning with its new paint job.

Marshall leaving the house on our dusty old road

At the edge of town -- I made him pose!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

More side effects -- blood sugar changes

Among the possible side effects that we were alerted to was problems controlling Marshall's blood sugars.  Well, that has started.  We've been monitoring his sugar levels several times a day and a few days ago we started getting some really high readings.  So next week we'll have to talk to the endocrinologist to see how the insulin may need to be adjusted.

We went to breakfast this morning and then came home and puttered in the greenhouse.  Now we are working on a couple of grant applications for Pet Project, the group we volunteer with, trying to get some grant funds for low cost spay/neuter clinics.  A very laid back day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Back pain on another snowy day

Snowing like crazy again, not sure if it will amount to anything.  It appears to be sticking right now.  But it certainly wasn't a day to go for a trike ride!

Marshall woke up this morning with back pain, right in the lower center of the back where one of the cancer lesions resides.  Plus the hot flashes are hitting him a lot at night and he's not getting much sleep.  So it's a down kind of day.  So I'm kind of thankful we have snow today so he wouldn't be tempted to go out and ride with this back pain.

The greenhouse is still doing pretty good.  Nothing else has bit the dust yet.  Just one tomato plant so far.

I went to lunch with a friend in Westcliffe today and after lunch we went shopping -- as much shopping as a person can do in tiny Westcliffe:  the Family Dollar store and a thrift store.  A really nice couple of hours.  I bought a hilarious Tazmanian Devil telephone for $8.  I'm not going to use him as an actual phone because I don't want to give up my wireless phones, but he does have a "demo" button.  You press the button and he rolls his eyes and waves his arms and yells things like, "Answer the phone," "It's for you!", and he does a lot of growling.  This is going to be good for a bunch of laughs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cataract Surgery; Greenhouse

Marshall's cataract surgery on Wednesday went well.  Today was the followup visit and everything looks good.  In another week his vision should be 100% better than it was and he will probably have no need for glasses except for close-up.  Very nice.

We've had some freezing nights so the greenhouse has been a challenge.  The first night we brought all the plants in the house, but that is just not an acceptable method going forward.  So since we've had a succession of cold nights, we've been putting boxes over each plant.  So far so good.  We only lost one tomato plant.

We've got 4 tomato plants, a blueberry plant, strawberry plant, cucumber plant and pepper plant.  All of these are experimental to see if we can make it work.  It's very challenging.  I also planted green beans and spinach.  And for fun, we bought a beautiful bougainvillea plant that should flower all summer in the greenhouse...give it a bright look.

Marshall is planning a trip to Denver on Memorial Weekend -- he's going to stay with friends and also take a Safety Riding Course for the trike.  The friend he is going to stay with has also had a battle with prostate cancer so it will be nice for Marshall to have someone to talk to who's "been there."  I'm going to stay home and do absolutely nothing!

Next Wednesday we are attending a prostate cancer support group at the Dorcy Cancer Center in Pueblo.  We are looking forward to that, too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Settling into a routine

Well, it appears that this blog is going to kind of slow down for a while because there really won't be a lot to write about.  Marshall's PSA is down, he doesn't have any pain, and the only side effects he's got going on are extreme fatigue and hot flashes.  So until June 11 -- which is our next visit to the University for lab work -- there won't be many entries.  Except for updates on the paint job for the Harley. 

Marshall is having cataract surgery tomorrow, then on May 27th he is going to take a certified Trike Safety Riding Course, and then he will probably be dropping the trike off at the shop up in Denver to be painted.  After they work out the design, the artist says he will probably have to keep the trike for two to three weeks.  We'll post photos when it's done.

We want to thank EVERYONE for the emails, the calls, the packages, the humor, the prayers, the cards....  Those first weeks were almost unbearable and without all of you I don't know what we would have done.  There is a place on the Prostate Cancer Foundation website that says the three levels of prostate cancer are (1) shock and disbelief; (2) anxiety and depression; and (3) adjustment.  We have pretty much made it to the adjustment period, although I'm sure anxiety & depression will visit us off and on as we go forward.

So our heartfelt thanks to all of you for everything you've done to support us!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's snowing!

Well, Marshall's plans for a nice long ride today have been stomped on.  It's snowing!  We need the moisture so it's welcome, but it's no good for riding.

Here's what it looks like on our deck today -- in MAY -- and it's still coming down.

Colorado Snow in May!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pictures of Harley

We went to breakfast this morning on the bike and then after breakfast we went down to the big parking lot at the health club and I drove it for a few minutes.  :)  Then it looked like rain so we are back home.

Marshall's been sitting in the garage figuring out the communication headset system and the GPS and the XM radio and all the other features.  Here are a few pictures.
Coco was curious....

Just came up our very dusty road....
Marshall "learning the ropes"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We brought the Harley home today

It was a very long day with lots of little snags and snafu's, but we finally got home with the Harley. Tomorrow he will probably spend the day playing with all the whistles and bells. I will post some pictures tomorrow. No one gave cancer a thought today!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bone density test -- oh, yes, and we bought a Harley trike

Marshall had a bone density test done this morning so that we could see where he stands right now before he gets too far along in his treatment.  The various drugs he will be taking all have a potential side effect of weakening the bones.  The technician doing the test said that Marshall's bones were "normal," so that is good news as a starting point!

And we now own a Harley trike.  We pick it up tomorrow.  I am attaching pictures of the trike as it sat in the showroom.  He's adding a few things to it.  Then next week he will begin the design process of giving the bike its patriotic look -- in honor of the 18th SOS, his unit in Viet Nam -- so that he can travel around the country to various shows/events and participate in various Rides and help raise awareness for (1) veterans' issues; and (2) how some prostate cancers are not the slow growers that people seem to think they should be (it is still staggering at how fast his cancer grew in just a few months).  You'll see more information about this in future blogs.  This is giving him a wonderful purpose in life that takes his mind totally off of the fact that he has cancer....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Followup with Primary Care Physician

Today we visited with Marshall's primary care physician here in Westcliffe just to keep up with his health in general.  He is going to arrange for a bone scan so that we can get a baseline look at what Marshall's bone strength is at this point, and we also have to pay attention to cholesterol levels, too, so there was more lab work done today.

Now we are waiting for the dentist to call back (he's out of town for a week) to get the dental appointment out of the way in preparation for the bone strengthening medication that will be started in July.

The side effects from Monday's injection so far have been (1) severe pain at the injection site that lasted two days; (2) more hot flashes; (3) dry mouth; and (4) extreme fatigue.  All of these are really minimal when you look at the big picture.

Now, on to the fun things that are going to keep Marshall occupied in the coming months and years ----- we are going shopping for that new Harley!!!  Stay tuned for pictures.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


When I wrote last night's entry, I forgot to mention the whole diet thing.  We asked Dr. Flaig about the importance of diet and he kind of made an "air chart" where he put medication across the very top of the chart and across the very bottom he put diet, exercise, supplements, etc.

He said that diet actually had more of an effect before you get cancer.  Once the cancer is diagnosed, though, he believes diet plays a valid but very small part of the picture.  He advised that Marshall follow a heart-healthy diet and don't worry about totally cutting out red meat or dairy or sugar, but enjoy everything in moderation.  He said that lots of fruits and veggies and more fish and chicken and less red meat meat are always a good thing whether you have cancer or not.  And keeping a healthy weight.

We brought a whole list of questions with us this time and I had typed the questions up in an outline with headings like Diet, Exercise, Side Effects and then I had the questions as bullet point lists under each heading.  When Dr. Flaig was saying goodbye to us, he said he really appreciated the concise and efficient way we asked the questions.  That was my Bartlit Beck training coming through.  How cool!

Medication changed ... and PSA down!!!!!!!!

First of all, for anyone who may be reading this who is dealing with their own prostate cancer and is interested in the numbers, here they are:

When Marshall was in the hospital in early March, his PSA was 48.  When he was diagnosed and went to the University of Colorado just a few weeks later, the PSA had risen quickly to 93.99, his Gleason score was 8 and the cancer had metastasized to his bones (rib cage, spine and upper right leg).

When we got to the University today, the first thing they did was draw blood.  When we were in the car coming home -- around 5:00 -- the oncologist called us to tell us that the PSA had dropped to 9!  I don't know who was more excited, the oncologist or us.  Dr. Flaig said that he loves to be able to give patients news like that.  The doctor also said that he is shooting for Marshall's PSA to get down to 2 or less.

During the visit, Marshall asked Dr. Flaig if chemotherapy and/or radiation was in his future.  Dr. Flaig said he believed it probably would be, but that it would be "YEARS down the road."  That was good to hear, too.

Last month Marshall's hormone injection was degarelix (Firmagon), two rather painful shots in the stomach.  Today, Dr. Flaig asked Marshall how he would feel about changing hormone treatments and getting Lupron instead of Firmagon.  Marshall said, "Doc, if you were sitting in my chair, what would you do?"  The doctor said he would take the Lupron.  So that's what Marshall decided to do.

He said with the Firmagon you had to be on a rigid schedule of two shots for the first treatment and then one shot EXACTLY every 28 days.  Plus the Firmagon injections were painful.  The Lupron is more flexible.  You get a Lupron shot every three months, it's not nearly as painful, and the side effects are not as severe.  In addition, with the Lupron, if your PSA levels stay down for a period of time, you can even take vacations from it. 

So today Marshall got a Lupron injection.  Even though it was a three-month shot, we still need to monitor the PSA, so we go back on June 11 for lab work to be sure the Lupron is doing what it is meant to do.

Dr. Flaig said that experience has shown that at the 7-month mark -- which for us will be around the end of September or early October -- we will know whether the hormone treatments are going to continue to work, so he says we will have a serious heart-to-heart at that time about what we will do going forward.

Hormone treatments cause bone weakening over time, so at our next visit in three months, Marshall will probably be started on a bone strengthener.  Right now, Dr. Flaig advised that we should start on Vitamin D and calcium supplements in addition to very moderate exercise.  He said that vigorous exercise would not be good and Marshall should stick to walking on a treadmill and maybe some stretching exercises.  He also said that the bone strengthener injection he intends to give Marshall (Xgeva) is well tolerated but sometimes has a side effect of causing problems with teeth, so he wants Marshall to see the dentist before our visit at the end of July and get any dental work done that needs doing before that visit.   Interesting.

On the way home, we felt so good that we stopped at Pikes Peak Harley Davidson and spent a few hours looking at Harley trikes and pricing them.  Saw one we really liked...........