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Is extending life always the best choice

cchqnetman's picture
cchqnetman
Posts: 97
Joined: Sep 2012

I hope no one if offended by this post. If they are, I apologize in advance. The reason I am posing this question in this forum is I have often wished I had someone to talk to whom I had no emotional involvement hoping I would get more logical answers than emotional answers.

History:
Current Age: 62
Employment status: Working but thinking of retiring
Marital Status: Married
Children: One (wonderful) 39 year old daughter

7/1999: Left/Right biopsy: Right side (no further specificity was given) had “a single focus of atypical glands”. PSA was 8.2 pre-biopsy.

8/1999: Lab results were read by a second lab (Air Force Institute of Pathology) that diagnosed it as “focus of carcinoma, well differentiated, nuclear grade I.

12/1999: 6-Core biopsy: All cores negative for cancer.

4/2000: Veterans’ Administration Hospital Lab examined the slides from Air Force Institute of Pathology and concurred it was “invasive prostatic adenocarcinoma” and added the comment “too few glands to Gleason Score”.

4/2000: 12-core biopsy: Right Mid (RM) and Right Mid Lateral (RML) positive for Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PIN).
Therapy chosen: Active Surveillance (AS)

12/2009: 12-core biopsy: All cores negative for cancer, no PIN

9/2012: 12-core biopsy. Right Lateral Base core with 5% involvement, Gleason 3+4=7 and PIN; RML core with 50% involvement, Gleason 3+4=7; Right Lateral Apex core with PIN and Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation (ASAP). Pre biopsy PSA 7.7

From 1999 to present PSA has been anywhere from 8.2 to 1.5 – no real trend.

Other health issues: Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) in neck and lower back; repeated kidney stones/Stage I of kidney disease. Treatment for DJD resulted in a perforated ulcer and precluded any further use of Non-Steroidal Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs were also suspected in the cause of kidney disease.

I am approaching the decision on what, if any, treatment to seek for my prostate cancer. I sometimes look at the possibility of getting treated as extending the quantity of life but decreasing the quality of life. I like to look at things from a statistical point of view as much as possible (the engineer in me). If I could graph quality of life versus time, the graph might extend farther to the right (more time) but on a lower horizontal scale (less quality). I fully realize both scales are very subjective and guesses at this point as I don’t know what the treatment would do to the quality of my life or to the duration of my life. I am pretty much convinced any treatment would decrease my quality of life – I just don’t know by how much. My DJD causes me almost daily pain and/or headaches which already has my quality of life at a sub-normal level. I have sought and received some treatment for the DJD but at this point the neuro surgeon is suggesting fusing the joints in my neck – at least three of them. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I am not sure I want to imagine that. I think I am looking at the possibility of decreasing my quality of life even further to extend it. I ask myself why I would do that.
If you have read this far, thank you! You are a patient person.

I realize this post isn’t going to win any “best in category” awards but I hope to get some honest comments back. Does anyone see my point? Has anyone every asked similar questions?

Thanks

David

halfwayhome
Posts: 9
Joined: Jan 2012

This is an objective term. What brings you joy? Family? Friends? If you don't have this what about volunteering for something you feel strongly about? Find the joy in your life. This won't make all your problems go away but it will make you feel better for whatever time you have or choose to have left. Some will say this is silly. I challenge them to help a fellow pc patient that doesn't have a ride get to a doctors appointment. Tutor a struggling student that has never known his dad. Find the things that bring you joy. Helping where and when you can will bring joy and meaning to your life while your still here. To big to tackle? Try doing RAK for the rest of of the time your here. Random acts of kindness. Hold a door for somebody. Make somebody who is down smile or laugh with a joke or by being goofy. Try it with a complete stranger.
I hope this post will help in some small way. I know it's helped me to try and encourage someone else.and yes I am a fellow Pc patient.

SCHRCH
Posts: 18
Joined: Jan 2013

First let me say that I judge no one --- that is God and God alone's decision.  I am a Christian and I do believe in Jesus.  I do believe in Heaven and Hell.  Having said that, I will pray for you even if you do not have the same beliefs that I do.  I will pray that God will supernaturally show Himself to you in a way that will be undeniable.  I believe that life is a gift -- every day, every breath is a gift.  Some suffer more than others and no one can ever know God's reasoning or timing.  But please consider your family when making this decision.  I know that may seem unfair but I would take into consideration my husband and children before I considered something so permanent and destructive to the loved ones left behind.  I can't know your pain and I'm sure there are plenty out there who wish the pain would go away so badly that they think along the lines as you.  I agree that you should seek counseling.  If not with Clergy -- then with a professional.  Depression is just as much a monster as cancer and any other life changing disease.  I've know those who have pulled out of it and I've know those who have not and the loved ones are left to grieve and hurt and there's absolutely nothing anyone can do to help them.  Again, I pray for you and your family and I hope you truly consider everything and everyone who will be affected by your decision.  God Bless....... 

mimbyus's picture
mimbyus
Posts: 18
Joined: Mar 2013

Hello SCHRCH:

 

I'm not David, the originator of this string, but if I had received your reply - as another non-religious man - i would have taken insult! I'm sorry to say it, but it's the truth. WHY must so many religious people proselytize and insist upon applying their own private values to others? You go right ahead and believe in fairy tales ( jesus, God) but keep it to yourself, please. I'm not interested. You're not being helpful, except to your own ego needs.

 

A fallen hero of mine penned a verse on this topic: "God is a concept by which we measure our pain."....John Lennon.

 

I notice frequently that persons who fall ill, or who fall into trouble with the law and become incarcerated ...SUDDENLY FIND JESUS!!! What A Surprise! ......"God IS a concept.".....in other words a mental construct we human beings tend to create in our minds, just like fairy godmothers, who serve to make us feel better...because we will be "saved" from our pains.

 

In regards to your advice to David against suicide or euthanasia: "please consider your family when making this decision," I've been there and done that...I endured much guilt about the pain I caused family and friends after my suicide attempt..but it got me exactly NOWHERE on the scales of morality. I got a kick in the butt instead! Family and friends only thought of themselves, forgetting that I was the person in the mix who was in desperate psychic pain! Please see my post about this experience elsewhere on this site, lower on this present page: re: extending the quality but lowering the quality of life.

I myself am in the same boat with David. My quality of life can only go from bad to worse, with this visitation of PCa. I say: "Life is for LIVING, not SUFFERING."

"Hey, You, Get off of my cloud!"

Peace, baby.

 

W.T.

 

jwoodie
Posts: 21
Joined: Feb 2013

I view life as a march to the grave, a journey I gladly take for future generations.  Having passed the Bilical three score, quality of life and dying with dignity mean much to me than seeing how long I can evade the Grim Reaper.  Families are usually the impediment here, because death is more diificult for the survivors to accept.  Personally, I would happily trade 10 bad years for five good ones.  Although it is still early in my diagnosis, my greatest wish is for a graceful exit, whenever that may be.

mimbyus's picture
mimbyus
Posts: 18
Joined: Mar 2013

Hello cchqnetman:

I am thinkinig seriouslsy along the same lines as you: I believe Life is for Living, not Suffering.

I'm 58 yrs old, recently diagnosed with PCa, a-symptomatic, Gleason 3+4=7, PSA 11, with a doc pushing for  "retropubic" or "suprapubic" prostectomy.

I have serious prior conditions that already reduce my Quality of Life to "Just Barely Worth It." I fear that the  prostectomy will exacerbate my prior conditions, thereby only adding to my daily suffering, and ultimately tipping the scales further to "Not Worth Living." 

Here is my story in detail, already related in another area on this site: CONSIDERING NO TREATMENT

And here is the address to my blog on one of my serious prior conditions: nothingyoucansee.com. My major concern is my dignity: I don't think I could ever bear incontinence and impotence.

I am not a religious person, so self-extinction, or  refusal to be treated ( and to have palliative care when needed ) causes me no moral dilemma.

It doesn't help that eveywhere a person turns for advice about PCa, you get conflicting "facts" and opinions. Look, I'm an educated person, holding a Masters degree, and I am retired on disability from a spectacular career as a news reporter. So I know how to research! Even so, my investigative research skills aren't producing any answers. Just total frustation.

If the medical community is  confused and can't come to agreement on what is best for PCa victims, then they should STOP experimenting on us!

And so, i am considering NO treatment, and likely a shortened life if my PCa metastasizes. I have been reassured by one doctor that palliative care could keep me comfortable, in the event of outbreak of my presently encapsulated cancer.

So my PCa kills me at age 65. SO F****G WHAT! At least I will have lived my final days in dignity, without Depends, catheters and urine bags, and never having had sexual function. 

This pathology is truly a B***h. But I refuse to run scared, and scarred (by horrendous surgeries done to me). F**K THAT!

One commenter [below] raises the issue of suicide as a crime against morality, because it visits insult and injury to those loved ones you leave behind. I've been suicidal once, and made a serious attempt [read about this incident at my blog, link above]. Yes, suicide does hurt others. After my attempt, I took much grief and anger from family and friends. But most family and friends then just left me! So if there is to be a second round, I'll have no moral qualms. SCREW everbody who only thought of their own hurt feelings at a time when I desperately needed support. Your life belongs to YOU. You don't owe anybody your survival when you Can't Get No Satisfaction!

Thanks for bravely raising this controversial topic. You did the right thing.

I wish you Peace, man.

 

W.T.

shipjim's picture
shipjim
Posts: 130
Joined: Apr 2006

I'm impotent and have mild inconntinence.  They don't kill you and they don't hurt.  Don't have sex but am not with out love and human contact with my wife.  The inconntinence on my part is leakage which i handle with pads.  Some days are worse than others but I'm not drowning, play golf, with my grandkids we boat play ball and hang out.  I have allowed no restrictions on my life.

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shipjim's picture
shipjim
Posts: 130
Joined: Apr 2006

I'm impotent and have mild inconntinence.  They don't kill you and they don't hurt.  Don't have sex but am not with out love and human contact with my wife.  The inconntinence on my part is leakage which i handle with pads.  Some days are worse than others but I'm not drowning, play golf, with my grandkids we boat play ball and hang out.  I have allowed no restrictions on my life.

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Eric65
Posts: 122
Joined: May 2010

Just try to picture constant pain that does not respond to medicine and to that, add being alone and surrounded by idiots at the same time (oh it's possible) if you try and let someone in they have selfish motivations. I've tried everything, sometimes there's really no other choice. I will find the courage.

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