At age 68 with my primary prostate cancer treatment (12 months of ADT, or hormone therapy, plus 1 session of high-dose-rate brachytherapy followed by 25 sessions of external beam radiation) now 13 months behind me, I am on a quarterly schedule for PSA testing to moniter for possible recurrence. For the first 7 months, my PSA was undetectable. Then it went up to 0.1 and, last month, up to 0.3.
Intellectually, I know that this is neither unexpected nor of any particular concern based on my treatment protocol. Emotionally, it is like riding a roller coaster with three-month cycles.
By nature, I am not a worrier, but prostate cancer affects a man in very fundamental ways. My coping mechanisms involve doing what I can to combat a recurrence, keeping up to date on the latest medical news on recurrence treatment protocols, relying on my wife of 47 years as my sounding board for concerns and possibilities, praying daily for guidance, and maintaining my sense of humor and a positive mental attitude. Finally, I have taken up the piano again in earnest since my diagnosis 27 months ago, after decades of barely touching it. Music is a great catharsis.
I strive to eat right, with a modified Mediterranean diet, and keep physically active. Regular physical activity outdoors (no matter the weather) to the point of breaking a sweat improves my body's ability to fight back and beats back depression without the need for medication.
I have thought through my Plans A, B, C, etc. for just about any result of my PSA tests. Since the medical options are constantly changing, I have to keep updating those plans.
I will admit that I pray more fervently and frequently as eash PSA test looms closer.
Personally, I don't see how anyone can fight cancer, or most any other serious disease, without a sense of humor. I find joking about the issues leads to that great medicine - laughter.
With the above approach, I find I worry very little about my upcoming PSA tests . . . until about the last two weeks of each quarterly cycle. During those two weeks, I stay away from anything heavy or depressing on TV (preferring light romantic comedies), in print, or on the Internet. I even restrict my intake of news, as it too often causes worry or anger, neither of which helps fight the pre-testing anxiety. I spend more time than usual on the piano and tend to play more hymns.
On the day of the blood draw (one week before my oncology appointment), I arrive at the lab shortly after it opens, joke with the staff, and get it over with. I always call Medical Records the following day to get the results of the tests. There's just no way I could sit around wondering for a whole week. That gives me time to absorb the results, understand what they mean (through Internet research and through discussions in online support groups), and prepare my questions and suggestions for the meeting with my oncologist.
Bottom Line: I cope by eating well, staying active, keeping up to date on possible treatment options, interacting with those who understand and care, keeping my sense of humor, playing the piano, and praying. Working to maintain an active sex life really helps a lot, too (although we have to hold off for three days prior to each PSA test).