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This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.

Biopsy

man alone on beach at sunset Started December 16, 1999

There are times when I become extremely reflective about my life. But the fact is that with the cancer and not knowing how bad it is and how long I will live, I really don't have a viable future. I don't know what I will do next.

Right now, I'm lucky I have Caren and her affection for me. We fill some odd sort of karmic need in each other. She's been by herself for maybe nine years. Makes me wonder how long I've been by myself. But she cares for me. I don't know why. We never intended this relationship.

But recently it has changed. It started with the loss of my sex drive and now with the hormone treatment, there is even less. Caren asked (maybe a month ago) what sort of relationship we have since we live and even sleep together but there is no sex. I don't know. We just get along and fill some sort of need. She is a good companion. I don't think I am as good.

Next day - 12/17

They did the sonogram and biopsy today. They were supposed to take six bites, as they quaintly call them, but the pain was too much so they did only four. I was completely misinformed on how it is done. They went in with this "dildo" that does the sonogram and after a few minutes of that, it is used for the biopsy with a built-in needle. They push it up next to the prostate and THEN they take the bite. The bite is nothing. It is the needle going in that starts to hurt. The last one was the worst. I really screamed. That when she said they would stop.

Then it got worse afterwards. I had dressed and she was filling out a form when she casually said I should consider castration as part of the treatment, as that is where the testosterone comes from. It made my stomach drop. I have a month or so to think about it. Meanwhile, she said my response to the hormone treatment is a good sign, the reduction of pain etc. It shows the body is responding well.

She said she'd call with the results of the biopsy. It will be "1 to 10" in severity, with 10 being the most severe, whatever that means. She already said it is "very advanced" and I went off the scale on that one one. Maybe I'll hit 11 or 12 on this one.

I don't know if she or the oncologist on 12/28 will give me an estimate of my chances. Read that as "life expectancy." So then the question will become, how do I want to live out what I have left of my life? Do I just pull my tail between my legs and slink off to die somewhere like a wounded animal? I know some people who would like that.

I don't want to be castrated or even to undergo chemo. She said I'll probably be getting chemo too. I don't want to die that way: poisoned and my balls cut off. Been there. Done that, thank you.

It makes me think of that line from my favorite movie, "All That Jazz" where "dying with dignity" means you don't drool.

I may have to consider suicide if my alternative is castration and chemo. I don't want that sort of life. I'd like to go up into some beautiful place and die peacefully. Maybe the mountains of the Northwest. Maybe the desert. Or go out to sea and slip over the side with an overdose of sleeping pills. That's the cleanest. There's always the 50-50-50 factor of Puget Sound: 50% of the time you have 50 minutes in 50 degree water. Hypothermia would be a cold but smooth way to go. Just step off the back of a ferry. Problem is washing up somewhere and people freaking. No, that's rude. I don't want to create a "cleanup" problem. That's why the ocean is the best. I'll think on it.

The hardest part will be Mac and Jack. I'll have time to find them homes.

Sunday 12/19/99

Gawd, I slept a lot yesterday! I ended up taking a nap and then after a great at-home dinner with Caren (brie, pears, apples, chardonnay, fresh baked baguette and more) I fell asleep on the couch around 9-ish and slept till 11, which is more than just a post-heavy-dinner sleep. I had a little trouble going to sleep in bed but finally did and then slept till 9:30 a.m. I think I was more worn out by the biopsy than I knew. It WAS exhausting.

I forgot to mention one other thing a doctor told me something that was not encouraging. He said to be sure to tell them if I start losing mobility in my legs as that will mean the cancer moved into the spinal nerves and they can do something about that. I didn't ask what it was they could do. Maybe his warning was just given my condition. They certainly don't have other information to work on, as this was pre-biopsy. I didn't mention it to Caren. This shit is hard enough for me to take.

Tomorrow I fly to Tampa for the deposition. And Stacy will be there.

On some days, the fun just doesn't stop.

RVY

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <http://www.phoenix5.org>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <www.phoenix5.org/infopolicy>.