Welcome back, Rich!

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Welcome back, Rich!

Post  mike.s on Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:36 pm

This past Saturday's event went out without a hitch and was, as usual, a lot of fun. But the best part, at least for me, was to see Richard A. back in the saddle and running with us. It's been a long time and a hard road, and, Rich, you are a winner in my book. Great to see you back and certainly hope to see you again in Devens very soon!

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Re: Welcome back, Rich!

Post  Bruiser on Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:23 am

I agree with Mike. It's great to see his return after a three year hiatus. Thanks to all for helping us make our events ones that people look forward to coming back and seeing friends again.
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Re: Welcome back, Rich!

Post  KoneCrusher on Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:57 pm

It was great seeing you all on Saturday, I really mean it.   It was a fantastic feeling to be out there with all the sights and smells of autocross and to see all the familiar faces.   And great to see new people discovering the fun of autocross.   I was a bit concerned whether I'd even find my way through the course.   Bill B. rode with me the first run and got me through the course.   After that it was continuous improvement.   Still way off from where I left off 3 years ago, but like bike riding, once you learn you don't forget.

I'll share a little bit of what happened in the past 3 years, since there are things to be learned for all of us.   The girls can stop reading here Smile

A few weeks after the 2010 banquet I had my annual physical, my PSA came back elevated (2.5 to 4.9 in < 1 yr).   I didn't think much of it, but the doctor seemed concerned so I went for a prostate biopsy and they found intermediate stage cancer.   Life suddenly changed.   For the next 3 years it's essentially all I've been focusing on.   I spent days and days on the Internet researching the subject to learn as much as I could.    I opted for robotic surgery in NYC by one of the leading surgeons in the US.   Unfortunately the cancer had already escaped the gland, but he was confident he got it all, the lymph nodes in the immediate vicinity were negative.   I recovered quickly with some side effects but nothing unusual and felt great.  They gave me a 30% chance that it would come back within 8 years, but that also depended on which doctor I talked to.   One doctor said it would be back in 6 months.    

Six months later my PSA starting going up from undetectable (which is what it should be after surgery).    I was already researching what to do next -- image-guided radiation therapy.  I consulted with 7 radiation oncologists on the east coast and a leading medical oncologist in VA.   I was determined to catch this thing early and beat it for good.  Conventional practice would say that I technically did not even have a recurrence (defined as a PSA of 0.2 after surgery), just a small rise in PSA for some unknown reason, but I was very proactive.   In my mind, if it wasn't zero there was something there and I wasn't going to wait around.  

I chose to have a test done in FL which has not yet been FDA-approved, to look for signs of cancer in the lymph nodes.   That's where typically prostate cancer spreads to.  It was a feraheme-enhanced MRI) using metallic nanoparticles which are injected and settle into lymph nodes.  It can detect tumors down to 1-2 mm, a conventional CT scan is only good down to ~1 cm or so.   To my surprise, they found 6 highly suspicious lymph nodes.  I had radiation done last fall in Sarasota FL by a leading radiation oncologist, who radiated not just the pelvic bed (standard practice) but also targeted the lymph nodes and another suspicious area in the pelvic bed.   I was also given hormonal therapy for one year, which coincidentally ended this past Saturday.    Side effects have been fatigue, loss of libido, body hair loss, loss of muscle mass, hot flashes and weight gain.  In order words, I was starting to look and feel like a post-menopausal woman -- not fun Sad   Once my testosterone starts climbing back from its current level of 7 (yes, 7!) to the normal 300-800 range, I'll feel much better.

Those are the highlights, it was more complicated than that.   There were other things found that I **think** are OK and have been resolved.   Radiation therapy itself can cause other cancers, so it's not to be taken lightly.   But the odds are pretty good that this may have stopped it, time will tell.   If not, then the next thing will be to go on the hormanal therapy continuously.  Eventually that fails and things get a bit ugly.   I'm cautiously optimistic and doing everything that needs to be done -- diet and exercise.   No red meat, mostly vegetables, no dairy products except yogurt, and limit the carbs.    All things that we ALL should all be doing for good health.

Now the lesson -- if you're over 50, you should be getting annual PSA checks.   If you have any family history, then start at 40.   The recent recommendations that came out regarding unnecessary screening is pure BS, it's horrifying to those who have been through this.   Your PSA should ideally be <2.5.    If it's 2.5 to 4.0, you need to be very cautious.   Make sure your doctor does the finger test to check for any bumps.   The most aggressive cancers do not put out much PSA but can be felt.   Not common, but scary enough that you should make sure it's done thoroughly and never missed.   Any rise of 0.7/year or more is a cause for concern, regardless of level.   At that point you should see a specialist.   BPH or prostatitis will often give a big rise in PSA but that's not cancer, it's inflammation.   There are ways to determine whether it's one or the other beyond the scope of this lecture.

Hey guys, take your health seriously.  I know, I know, if you're under 50 that's usually a given, but once you're past the apex (sorry!) you're closer to the finish line so you can't afford to knock any cones down.    

--- Rich A.

PS  I have some conflicts on my calendar so I won't be able to make any more Renegade events this year, but I'll try to make it for the banquet.   And I look forward to more autocrossing next year.    I live 1 1/2 hrs from Devens so it's a very early rise and a long ride for me.   The years of doing Renegade and not missing an event all year are over, but the enjoyment of autocrossing won't go away.
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Re: Welcome back, Rich!

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