Tag Archive: Prostate Cancer


Meet the baby of the family, the unexpected/unplanned baby of the family.

This coming Saturday, Pi Day, the mathematically inept, right-brained baby will “celebrate” the successful navigation of 60 years on the planet, and look forward to hopefully plenty more.kmb2

Much has changed since the decade of Ike, Elvis, Disneyland, Sputnik, U2 (not the band) and “Senator, have you no sense of decency?”

The author of Almost DailyBrett has always been a tad vertically challenged; in time became follicly challenged, and still vows to never-ever be horizontally challenged. Looking forward to Saturday’s cross-training with Nike+, charting the results.

Tempted to mimic a lyric, “Oh, what a long, strange trip it has been,” but I was never into that kind of “trip.” When it comes to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, always been a big fan of the first, still dig the latter (never was a Dead Head), and never understood the appeal of the “medicine.”

Baby Boomers are supposed to wax nostalgic for the 1960s and the demonstrations in the streets of Chicago and arrests on the quad at Berkeley. What the heck happened to your author? Instead, he pleasantly recollects the 1980s, when he tied the knot for the first time, became a father to Allison, when it was Morning in America.

California even balanced its budget, raised zero taxes and maintained a $1 billion for emergency. Almost sounds quaint when compared to today’s oceans of red ink for our children’s children to pay. Yep, the 1980s worked; they always will; historical revisionism be damned.

Come to think of it, during my life a Wall went up in 1961 (“Ich bin ein Berliner”) and it came down 28 years later (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”). O.J. sliced up UCLA’s defense in 1967 and Nicole Brown a generation later.

Nothing has ever been permanent, particularly disco, hem-and-tan lines.

Brady Bunch Neighborhood

Growing up in lily-white Glendale, California in the age of Hogan’s Heroes and the God-awful Brady Bunch, your blog writer will always be grateful for those priests and nuns who taught writing, reading and literature. They also transformed me into the rotten Catholic I am today with their unique combination of arrogance, boorishness and corporal punishment.

Sorry to say Padre, you were wrong: Mary Magdalene was not a whore.

There was the bitter divorce of 1967, but with it came life-long lessons about how to and how NOT to treat the fairer gender. Monogamy with a special one is best; you should try it and stick with it, fellow hombres.ibmselectric

My love of writing began at eight-years old, the very same year in which the school loud speakers told us about the death of a young president. This same infatuation with the pencil, pen, IBM Selectric, work station, PC, and now the mobile device continued as man walked on the moon, a president resigned, our diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, and planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Growing up, always thought that Nixon’s first name was “Damn.” Came to appreciate that Tricky Dick and Slick Willie were spot-on names for my least favorite presidents. Thankfully, Nixon abolished the draft. There was no ‘Nam for me, University of Oregon instead.

The Earth Shook

Eventually graduated from the University of Southern California with a Rose Bowl ring and no loans. Yes I was fortunate, but a long career laid before me. Cut my teeth covering the Proposition 13 tax-revolt earthquake in 1978. Toured the Soviet Union in 1981, seeing the Evil Empire and its grip on people up close and personal. Recruited to serve as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee the following year. We won the governorship of California at 5 am the day-after-the-election. We recorded the biggest landslide in blue state California’s history four years later.

Sacramento has two seasons: Hot and Cold. Served as the Governor George Deukmejian’s press secretary as the earth shook San Francisco (e.g., Loma Prieta Earthquake). Was told “The Bay Bridge is in the Water.”  Whew, it was not true, even though the Cypress Structure mysteriously came down.cypressstructure

Next was trees, owls, chips and Japan, which led to the fifth most famous person from Liverpool, Wilf Corrigan, and LSI Logic. Saw the Internet bubble rise and inevitably it exploded, resulting in seven rounds of layoffs and a company on the brink. We survived and yet it was time for Wilf to retire … The world moved on to social, mobile and cloud.

Faced mortality twice, first with prostate cancer and then with Valley Fever/Meningitis. Fought off the first and battled the second to a draw, and yet it was my first wife, Robin, who lost her battle to cancer. Life is unfair. Life is fickle. Life is finite.

Attained the so-called “Holy Grail” of public relations, vaunted agency experience with a life-changing side-effect; subbing at Santa Clara University. Could I teach at the college level, maybe even at the school that caused time to stop with “Kenny Wheaton is going to score; Kenny Wheaton is going to score”?DSC01171

Accepted a fellowship to the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and earned 15 months later my master’s degree. The attainment of a second career was complete with a full-time instructor position at UO, and now a tenure-track assistant professor gig, teaching public relations/advertising/corporate communications/investor relations at Central Washington University.

And best of all, the author of Almost DailyBrett turned his attention away from his blog long enough to survey the field of contenders on Match.com. The result was a love affair with Jeanne, fireworks on the Fourth of July, and trips in the little green chariot. Next up is our long-overdue romantic honeymoon to Bavaria and Tuscany, Mad King Ludwig’s castles and Under the Tuscan Sun.

I am one lucky dude.

Today, I am inspired by Mick and Keith at 71, Ronnie at 68, and geriatric Charlie at 73 on worldwide tour. To use more than a few metaphors, there is still plenty of gas in the tank and the engine continues to rev every morning. It’s pedal to the metal time.

“Oh what a long, strange trip it has been.” Looking forward to continuing the ride with the top down and my few remaining hairs flowing in the breeze.DSC01421

 

Trust me. I would never belittle prostate cancer. I am a survivor. My Gleason scores were all sixes and sevens on a scale to 1-to-10…and I was only 49. The choice was tough and easy at the same time; take the most aggressive course possible, what is known as Radical Prostatectomy to surgically remove my prostate and thus, the cancer.

I am happy to report that my follow-up PSAs (prostate specific antigen) tests are a big fat zero, and that’s where I want to keep it. The admonitions for men to submit to a simple relatively painless blood test are all true. Early detection saved my life in 2004.

prostate

And just when I thought the coast was clear, I went to Fresno in California’s Central Valley for a football game on September 9, 2006. I will never forget that date. The Oregon Ducks won 31-27, but I lost big time. Little did I know I had breathed in the spore that is (un)commonly known as Valley Fever.

Before I go further let me reveal that I am not a physician, so everything that follows comes from me, the two-year Valley Fever patient; my hard-earned knowledge (40 lumbar punctures; one head shunt and counting); my plethora of conversations with a wide variety of doctors; and my extensive reading on the subject.

First point: Valley Fever is a misnomer: It is not a virus. It is a fungus. The name hails from the Valley of the Sun as in Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding desert communities.  Valley Fever is not contagious; it can only be transmitted by breathing in the spore that just digs the arid climates of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas and Northern Mexico. Only one-out-of-every 25 people who come into contact with the Valley Fever fungus will get the full effect with all the fixings…that would be me.

valleyfever

Three months after the September Oregon vs. Fresno State game, I was meeting with a CEO to discuss preparing a speech and PowerPoint graphics for his upcoming keynote in China.

When I drove home, I had the worst chills I ever experienced in my life. I threw on a hooded sweatshirt and went to bed. Waking up two hours later, I realized that I had completely soaked the sweat shirt with…ah…sweat. And I really don’t sweat. Next up was breaking out in what looked like measles on my torso. Something was wrong, very wrong.

And yet being a guy under the influence of testosterone, I kept on trying to combat a flu that went on for two weeks. Influenza doesn’t last two weeks and yet I kept on fighting…until… Two days after Xmas I was admitted to the hospital. There is just something truly special, something magical about watching the Rose Bowl from a hospital bed…just kidding. Ten days after being admitted, I was told that I had Valley Fever; it sounded kind of benign. In reality, the nightmare was just beginning.

In the next year, I was admitted to the hospital two other times (Thank Darwin for health insurance; I would have been wiped out financially). During 2007 and well into 2008, I suffered fainting spells, instances of severe dizziness, lost my ability to even toss a tennis ball over my head in order to serve, couldn’t walk down the steps of Michigan Stadium (“The Big House”), and then my memory started to fail me. The docs gave me three words to remember: “Roller skates, love and Beatles.” Five minutes later, I could only remember the band.

I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus or “water on the brain.” A shunt was weaved up through my nose (under anesthesia obviously) to regulate the build-up of water…and like magic, my memory was back. Alas, my problems were not over.

There was still a wild build-up of white blood cells in my spinal column. Something was obviously wrong. What was causing this? The answer was Valley Fever and in particular, Meningitis spurred by the fungus. We had to reduce these white blood cells pronto. That led to 40 lumbar punctures, spinal fluid coming out for evaluation and Amphotericin B (an anti-fungal) going in. To humor the situation, my doctor Larry Mirels of the Positive PACE Clinic in San Jose and a political animal just like me, equated each puncture with a president. We stopped when we reached Ronald Reagan. Lumbar puncture #40 was one for the Gipper.

Before 1958, the one-out-of-every-25 people who were vulnerable to Valley Fever and came into contact with the fungus was a goner…and there is a good chance they or their doctors never knew what hit them. Reportedly some German POWs sent to Arizona in World War II mysteriously bit the dust. Ditto for GIs training at Camp Roberts near California’s central San Joaquin Valley. The spore loves these spots.

Medical science (thank you Dr. Mark Avon of San Ramon, CA) saved me from prostate cancer as it did for Valley Fever. Unfortunately, Valley Fever is not curable. I take three 100-mg anti-fungals (Itraconazole) in the morning and three more in the evening. Even with insurance, they cost me $292 per month. The alternative, allowing Valley Fever to come back in an even stronger form, is not an option.

For awhile I was thinking if I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. And then I remembered the docs and the nurses who helped me win a battle against cancer (so far) and wrestle a nasty fungus to a draw. Dr. Mirels and Dr. Avon will always be my friends for life. In fact, I have already used up two or my nine lives…guess I have seven more to go.

http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/tc/prostate-cancer-topic-overview

http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/prostate-cancer-grading-prostate-cancer

http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/prostate-cancer-radical-prostatectomy

http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/psa

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/definition-of-valley-fever

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/congenital-hydrocephalus-topic-overview

http://children.webmd.com/vaccines/tc/meningitis-topic-overview

%d bloggers like this: