Summer and the Radiation Moon
Yes, under the radiation moon, I will almost complete my treatments. They will end on August 6th and the new moon is August 1st. By then I’ll have an idea of what, if any, side effects radiation will bring. The new moon I’m going to call the Lupron moon because I should be well into the period when ADT might start causing side effects.
I had a brief scary moment while I did my workout this morning. Over the last couple of weeks two dementia related cautions have appeared in the press. The first, about anticholinergic drugs said users of these drugs faced a 5% increased risk of dementia. I’ve been on tizanidine for three years. It’s a muscle relaxant I used because my left shoulder had become painful. I stopped taking it.
The second caution was about ADT, androgen deprivation therapy. That’s the Lupron. I’ve focused, as I’m sure most do, on the side effects that can come with the drug right away: bone softening, mood changes, hot flashes among others. It’s a little confusing about the dementia/Alzheimer risk, but it seems 12 months of ADT can increase the risk of dementia by as much as 20%. That’s a lot.
The scary moment was: my god, what if I cure my prostate cancer and get Alzheimer’s? The good news, your cancer is gone. The bad news, you can’t remember you had it in the first place. My mood sank.
My mind went, unbidden, to a despairing thought. Is this all worth it? What if I do get a cure, but the treatment gives me dementia? Screw it. I’ll just give up. This is too much. Cancer and this risk? Too fucking much.
It was the sort of thing I’d usually suppress. Nope. Not gonna consider that. Enough already. Get back to the workout, let the exercise drive it away.
No. What? No, I said.
Oh, ok. What, then? Let’s look at it. Yes, dementia/Alzheimer’s scares me. But. The risk is an increase in the percentage likelihood of my becoming demented. No dementia or Alzheimer’s on either side of my family in my first level relationships. I exercise, which protects me to some degree. I challenge my intellect, learning new disciplines, painting, writing. Studying Latin, Judaism. If my risk is low, as I believe it is, then a 20% increase is probably negligible. Let’s say I have a risk level of 25%. A 20% increase in that would take me up to 30% overall. 2/3 of US Alzheimer sufferers are women, too.
Now the cancer risk. ADT increases my chances for a cure in the 5 to 10% range. Radiation puts me at 65 to 70% chance of a cure. With the two together my odds become 70% to 80%. And, I have the cancer. Right now. Conclusion for me? Follow the treatment. Take the risk.
Result? I don’t have a suppressed fear. I looked at it, recognizing anxiety that seems natural to me. That anxiety prompted me to look more deeply. I’m making an informed choice to stay with the treatment.