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A new beginning?

Life can throw a few hardballs every now and again, but today’s sunset at Sorell was a good omen.

Remember the biopsy that was delayed that I mentioned at the end of this entry?

Well, luckily for me my doctor wasn’t prepared to wait for me to get on the public list again and insisted I go see Tasmania’s leading urologist as soon as possible.

I did, and had the tests done later in the week. Days later I was called in. “Bad news,” says the urologist, “of the 18 biopsies we did, 14 tested positive for cancer.”

The next step was CT and nuclear bone scans. And judging by the names the manufacturers give their weird looking machines they at least have a sense of humour.

Back for results with my new best friend (half our sessions are taken up with discussions about our iPad 2′s). “Good news,” he says, “the cancer has not spread to the bones and is confined to the prostate which give us another option — brachytherapy.”

Compared to the original options — total removal or intense chemotherapy, but with attendant side-effects including incontinence, impotence and variations on the theme — this choice was a natural for me.

Brachytherapy, which basically consists of the insertion of precisely-measured radioactive ‘seeds’ directly into the prostate, while not having the same odds of success of the previously mentioned options, does come with apparently fewer side-effects.

As usual, everything comes with a cost. In this case the ‘seeds’ which have to be ordered from the United States cost more than $7000.00. Word is that my medical benefit fund might be able to cover most of it, despite their paltry contributions to the earlier operations.

UPDATE: Well, the op has come and gone, and I finally have enough energy to write this.

What you see to the right is an ultrasound showing the placement of the 72 radioactive ‘seeds’ directly into the prostate.

A booklet I was given has the warning that for two months I’m not allowed to bounce children or pregnant women on my lap, and I’m also not allowed any caffeine for the same time.

I managed to keep the children and pregnant women off my lap, but succumbed to coffee before the allotted delay.

A month after the procedure my Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is more than halved — a very good result according to my specialist.

However, one of the unfortunate side-effects is lethargy and fatigue. It comes and goes, but is unpredictable. In bed by eight and up by nine o’clock with attendant restlessness appears to be the norm at the moment.

Judging by the stories of friends and acquaintances though, I’m happy enough to be tired. Many of them who’ve had the alternatives, chemotherapy or total prostate removal, have had much worse side-effects.

Since I got the bad news I’ve been a boring old fart with friends and acquaintances, insisting they go and get checked, and already two of them have had negative results. One, a friend of 30 years, is being operated on next week.

However, I’ve not succeeded with another friend, a 72-year-old Chinese accountant, who insists that he is mentally controlling his PSA levels. And blow me down, his last checkup was lower.

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