Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest
35 of 35. 350 minutes of photons. All in. Fini.
Patty gave me a high five. Nicky gave me a medium blue Anova pull-over shirt. The Dixieland Jazz for the final ten was inspired. Felt like I was in the Quarter, beignet and chicory coffee in hand, water condensing on the glass at the Cafe du Monde.
In my discharge session I asked Dr. Gilroy again what he thought my chances were for a cure. “Seventy-five to eighty percent. I’d say ninety but you were in a high risk group. Really good odds.”
Also asked him how long he thought I needed to be on the Lupron, “Three to six months.” He repeated that in a note of our meeting. That’s great news for me because it means as soon as 7 months from now I could get a PSA that would prove definitive. Also would mean just one more Lupron injection. Oddly, if I read my Anova bill yesterday, which said we owed $139, the Lupron injections, at $189, are more expensive than the whole series of radiation treatment.
Before insurance coverage, the raw price from Anova for 35 sessions plus setup was $93,300. Yes, sir. The gasp was similar to the one I gave the nice lady at the Jefferson County license plate window. “$585 for your new plates.” What! “Yes,” she said, “this is the worst part of my job. Telling folks the cost.”
Kate asked me how I felt as we drove away. At that moment, not much. I still had to drive home. “Relieved that it’s over. Happy I won’t have to make the drive anymore. Not giddy, definitely not.” We agreed we felt cautiously optimistic.
Over the course of Kate’s long ordeal I got a real peak behind the curtain of medicine. Not that I hadn’t had one before with Kate, but this time I saw in action the high-wire act that medicine is. Doctors go with the best data possible. Sometimes that data’s not very good. Kate’s upper bowel resection had to be done to stop the bleeding, but the imaging studies done before surgery were inconclusive about the actual site of the bleed. Worked. Data and experience.
In my case the radiation treatment involved two scans that showed nothing, no mets. This meant that my rising PSA was most likely the result of a local recurrence, one confined to the prostate fossa, the area where my prostate used to be. Note the most likely. The radiation itself proceeds with care and precision, but in a black box. The radiation goes in, but did it do anything? Can’t know till the Lupron’s not on board anymore.