KERRY AND GREGG MORRISON DESIGNED, ENGINEERED AND RAN THIS YANA SITE FOR MANY YEARS. IT WOULD NOT HAVE COME INTO EXISTENCE AND WOULD NOT HAVE BECOME WHAT IT HAS DONE WITHOUT ALL THE HARD WORK THEY PUT IN.
WE SHOULD ALL BE VERY GRATEFUL TO THEM.
I live in Sydney, Australia with my husband Gregg. I am 57 and Gregg is 71. We've been together for 31 years. Gregg was diagnosed in May 1991, and had a Radical Prostatectomy in February 1992 at the age of 61, in Concord Hospital, Sydney. During his pre-surgery visit to his specialist Urologist, I asked if he would like me to go with him for the visit, to try to understand what to expect after the surgery. I was amazed at the Uro's total disinterest in me, the wife. He dismissed my questions as irrelevant. He had no time for me - and the little time he spent with Gregg, left him with more questions and fears than before.
During the 10 months' lead-up to surgery to ensure that no further cancer cells could spread outside the Prostate gland, Gregg was given the "anti" hormone "Zoladex" by means of an implant in the skin of his abdomen. This drug arrested the production of the naturally-produced hormone Testosterone, which of course is vital for men to have a continual supply of if they are to experience the feelings of wellness, coping and happiness. Gregg stopped his 30 cigarettes-a-day smoking habit just before the surgery. This really helped in his recovery.
During this period on hormones, Gregg was often in a depressed and melancholy state - a side affect of the Zoladex, together with the thought of the impending surgery. The depression continued for 6 years and is still a problem today, now and then he struggles to lessen the boredom in his life. He does not rest easy in retirement.
For about 4 years after the surgery, life was a series of painful experiences as we struggled to regain the very close friendship and love we had enjoyed before that terrible diagnosis. Our sex life was no more. This meant that there were no nerves in the prostate area to tell the penis when to become erect, and the lack of Testosterone production made Gregg feel dead inside. That is, no libido, no anticipation. Gregg suffered a heart attack in July 1994 and again in September 1996. His bones are now weakened by osteoporosis from the harsh medications.
We connected to the Internet late in 1996 and went searching for sites to learn more about Prostate Cancer. The information was abundant, but always slanted towards orthodox medical and surgical treatments. We regret not having a site like YANA to turn to. At least we might have had some other options to look at, before Gregg was forced to have the surgery. It seems the drugs he was required to take over the years since have produced more health problems than perhaps might have been.
The hardest thing, for us, since 1992 has been the loss of sexual closeness, which for a long while greatly diminished the communication between us. This became a source of great sadness, frustration and despair for both of us. Any woman who has been through this experience will understand what its like to flounder along, trying to be nurse one minute and understanding wife the next, while the strong supportive wonderful partner is struggling to regain what he believes he has lost forever - his sense of being whole again.
Since surgery in February 1992 (8 years have passed!) Gregg's PSA had remained at a level between 0.1 to 0.4 until this month! when it suddenly rose to 0.7 (verified twice to eliminate testing errors).
We returned to the surgeon who simply was not terribly interested in outcomes - he prescribed 6 more months of harsh hormone implants which only served to make Gregg ill, depressed and dreadfully unhappy - yet again. He was very disappointed at having to commence hormone treatment of Androgen Blockade, which involved 3 months of Androcur and 9 months of Zoladex implants. His PSA dropped back to <0.1, but his quality of life had deteriorated! He recently discovered some painful stones in the right kidney (a side effect of Androcur) and spent several painful weeks getting some treatment to dissolve them.
Gregg is now clear of side effects from the hormones and has made the decision to try to optimise his health by going the natural therapy path, including a change of diet and getting lots more fresh air. Here is a new site which is all about Natural Therapies: Health Promotions International Pty Ltd which was recommended by fellow Aussies and we are grateful for their contribution to our continuing search for good health and longevity. We now look forward to a much happier future, stress-free and taking it easy. Gregg is still needing to take drugs for Blood Pressure and Arthritis, but compared with what he has put up with for the last 8 years - he's 'almost' laughing! Gregg is checking around for a Herbal Testosterone Supplement (if such a thing exists) to try and boost his energy levels and regain some normal 'life be in it' feelings. Doctor's appointment on Thursday, 18 November will decide outcome.
We especially look forward to meeting through the YANA Prostate Cancer Support Group, lots of newly-diagnosed people, whom we can help to see a clear road ahead, and travel down it without fear.
Here we are 9 months since the last update. PSA's have all continued to be lower than 0.4; Gregg continues to maintain a 'watchful waiting' regime now, with attention to diet (losing weight is very important for overall health); depression is still a problem - but life is easier this year. Pain is something one lives with, and he seems to have some osteoarthritis which nags away at him every day. We enjoyed our 25th Wedding Anniversary in May and are looking forward to the Olympic Games, a trip to see our children in October and a summer filled with laughter and positive events. You can cry about misfortune only so long!
After continuing low PSA's, Gregg's health is improving quite outstandingly. He is having mild testosterone injections twice a month which is helping to boost his energy levels. He is much happier in himself, and becoming more productive as his well being improves. He still gets an occasional heart pain, but we are keeping an eye on that, by regular visits to his local doctor to monitor the blood pressure. He still needs to lose some weight but that will happen, given time. We are looking forward to Christmas and the celebration of 100 years of Federation in Australia. Maybe we will even have a Republic soon!
Gregg Morrison was diagnosed in May 1991. He has now reached a milestone in surviving Prostate Cancer surgery and the difficult treatment regimes. He is now 10 years post diagnosis. He joins a fairly unique group of PCa Survivors/ His current PSA this week - 0.5. Approaching his 70th birthday in June 2001.
I am maintaining good health and have reduced my weight slightly. My latest PSA was 0.7 in October 01, but there are no symptoms that would indicate a flare-up of any malignancy. I continue to have monthly testosterone injections and am presently negotiating with my medical prescriber to assist me in trialing a drug called DHEA for short - an explanation is here - Dehydroepiandrosterone - to improve my sense of physical and emotional well-being.
Gregg is now 73 and it is 13 years since his diagnosis. Here is his update:
My health continues to be reasonably well controlled and following yet another heart stent last year, I have been able to decrease my medication intake, but unfortunately my arthritis still needs attention and thus my weight remains a problem because of its required control.
My PCa appears a thing that belongs in the dark past, but it has a terrible effect on my wife and my own life style as the result of the surgery. Had I had the information then as is now available on sites like this I would have chosen differently. But that is now of 13 years ancient history, and I am a survivor and I continue to have my injection of testosterone each 3 weeks that makes me feel human. Ten years ago my demand to have this treatment was met with horror, and the dire warnings that my body would be invaded by metastasis has not as yet eventuated.
Gregg is now 74 and his PSA is 6.00 ng/ml. Here is what he has to say:
It is now 14 years since my surgery. If you look at my current PSA score you may think "He has an active tumour!" This has caused my medical team a lot of concern, and I have had every possible type of examination over the past couple of months. No evidence of any cancer activity can be found from X-Ray, CAT Scan, MRI or numerous blood tests.
In reading my previous "story", you will note that I was having regular testosterone injections over many years. I had them to deal with my osteoporosis. This developed as the result of the androgen blockade treatment I had been subjected to. There was always the fear that the injections would result in a reactivation of the cancer. This appears to have been quite wrong, but they have suspended my testosterone treatment to see if there is any further increase in my PSA score.
I'll get back to you all next year.
Having now survived 15 years since my diagnosis and undergone various treatments regimes, I have now joined the group of PCa survivors that have adopted "Watchful Waiting" as their method of coping with their condition.
Over the past couple of years my PSA has had a random variation from 3 ng/ml to 7 ng/ml. My result this month is at 6 ng/ml.
I now have a new Urologist and we had a total review of my past history today.
We looked at all options available and it has been decided that the most appropriate action for me is to take no action and review my situation in 6 months time. I have no symptoms of any tumor growth anywhere in my body and my general health is quite normal for my age.
My prostate health remains mostly unchanged with a slight increase in my PSA. [ I see my Urologist next week ] but I have developed a tumor in my pancreas and am now diabetic. There is no link with PCa they assure me, but it controls my life at the moment and I am pretty pissed-off at being so invalidated.
Gregg's [non-PCa problems] continue. He was hospitalised for 10 weeks in September for the fusion of two verterbrae in his spine. That's a big operation and he is slowly recovering, although he is in a good deal of pain. He's slowed down a bit - but he is 78 now.
Gregg's wife Kerry writes:
Gregg has been very ill lately - heart failure mostly andis now following a strict regime of drugs to try and normalise the heart rate, which has been very rapid and erratic during the last few weeks, rendering him quite unable to walk far, or go out anywhere.
He's diabetic now, and needs insulin injections daily, and has had to watch his diet more carefully, but otherwise, the diabetes is well under control. The heart thing is a new problem and after the terrible back surgery last year, I'm not surprised he's feeling run down. His PSA shot up to 29 at last blood test, and that sort of became the focus for a while, but I don't know if the cause is anything to be concerned about - and to be sure he'll be seeing his oncologist next week for further checks.
He's having a rough time now - but hopefully he'll return to good health in the next few weeks. His GP is to make a house call today so I'll be interested to hear how he thinks Gregg is progressing.
Gregg's wife Kerry writes:
The GP happily declared that Gregg is now in remission from cancer - so that should have been enough good news to brighten his life considerably, were it not for the persistent Irritable Bowel Syndrome spectre and continuing doses of multiple other drugs, which probably exacerbate the IBS anyway, and his absolute depression, dejection and malaise from all of this attack on his body over the last 12 months. I often wonder whether any of these drugs clash with each other - perhaps causing more trouble for the body's immune system to handle! But the doctors (specialists) who prescribe them are not keen to address this possibility, expecting him to continue without question until a distant appointment brings specialist and patient back together again!
My problem is now trying to lighten his depressive state - anti-depressants don't work, pain patches don't work - he's allergic to them... they play havoc with his bowel, and the only relief in that area are daily suppositories for the bowel pain and discomfort. He has just about given up on himself, and is in a really desperately unhappy state of ill-health. He remains in bed for most of the day, saying that he has less pain when lying prone, and more when sitting on chairs, no matter how comfortable. He has no interest in his beloved politics, the TV, the news, his family, the PCa contacts he had, and most sad of all, he has lost the desire for his prolific forays into the Family Tree discoveries.
Looking at the positives - his mind is still sharp, though not particularly focused at the moment. He has begun to say that he will "get better", and then there's always me - sharing his pain, and feeling pretty awful about his seemingly self-imposed exile from life.
Gregg's wife Kerry writes:
Gregg is being prepared to come home by next week sometime. He'll be here tomorrow (Thurs 9th Dec 2010), on a short visit from hospital, accompanied by his Occupational Therapist, to check him out while he moves around his home, getting used to using the walker again, and she will order some aids for him from the Home Care people to help his return to comfort and good health. I'm so excited, I'm going to do a lovely fresh salad for him for lunch and a "real" cup of tea at the kitchen table! Then he's driven back to hospital, because he's not discharged yet, and is having more tests, and all being well, he will be home some time next week!
He sounded like his old self almost when I talked to him on the phone tonight. He is still hesitant about managing himself once home, but I've assured him that he only has to go at his own pace. Nobody will have unrealistic expectations of him, and he can relax and enjoy his familiar surroundings again. I will have the Christmas Tree up by then, and help him feel loved and needed.
Please feel free to mail him over Christmas, with a note of encouragement, to build up his self-esteem. He certainly needs it!
Gregg's wife Kerry writes:
Gregg continues to improve very slowly.
This Friday, he goes into Sutherland Hospital, to have a stretching procedure of the oesophagus, to allow some sort of blockage to be relieved, so he can eat better and in larger quantities. This procedure is quite common and has lasting, excellent results - and I am hopeful that Gregg will be able to eat normally again after this, and start to put on the weight he has drastically lost in the last three months.
After the throat procedure, Gregg will then have some simple surgery on 15th March to replace a kidney stent which was inserted back in October 2010 whilst going through the terrible infection he got, and will also have some stones lasered into "dust" which may be causing his frequency of urination, and of course daily discomfort. I hope he then can start to build up his overall strength and see a return to a reasonable state of health again.
Incidentally, Gregg's PSA has remained at 0.10 ng/ml since he had a Zolodex Injection in September 2010. In spite of the massive infection invading his body, he is still showing this reading to date. His GP even went so far as to say he is "now in remission" from cancer. So that has encouraged us enormously.
Gregg's wife Kerry writes:
Every blood test he's had during the last 12 months have given a low PSA reading of 0.1. I guess you could say that he has won the battle of PCa, even though the time getting to this point has taken longer than it should have. Gregg was fit and healthy most of these last 10 years, but he had some falls that wrecked his spine and now is currently fighting to stay upright on his legs - which were greatly weakened by the 2010 Blood Infection, following on from the 2009 Spinal Fusion Surgery, which was not as successful as first thought, due to the Sciatic Nerves being crushed by the falls, prior to surgery. These apparently cannot be mended - hence the constant severe pain involving his legs now.
He uses a walker to go everywhere, which is not far - just around the house - and will not go outside into the beautiful gardens my son and I have been developing - numerous veggies and native flowers. He gave up his drivers license over 2 years ago, and the only place I can get him to venture out of the front door to, is for a doctor's visit. I've narrowed down the doctors to #1. his GP, #2. his Pain Manager and #3. less often - a Geriatrician who tests his cognition and memory. Since the infection exactly 12 months ago, his short term memory has deteriorated markedly. This memory loss is significant, whilst his past long term memory seems reasonably intact.
For the third time in three years, my dear husband Gregg finds himself in Hospital fighting infection, damage from several falls, general ageing wear and tear, (he turned 80 this June!) and serious pain issues. His mobility has declined quite significantly over the last 6 months apparently due to weaker leg muscles from lack of sufficient exercise, which primarily is the result of some narrowing of the lower spine just above the site of his back surgery in 2009, directly causing unbearable pain.
On Saturday evening 12th November 2011, another serious fall on his way to bed, has damaged ribs and vertebrae, putting him in Hospital via Ambulance as a matter of urgency. He is unable to stand or walk on his legs at the present time, and has had urgent Radiology, including Chest X-rays, various blood tests, has low Blood Pressure currently with Heart Valve investigations, and yesterday had an MRI to determine the damage and allow for the best possible plan of medical intervention to help him get better - and I sincerely hope above all, back on his feet. He has some infection in some damaged skin on his body sustained during the fall. So he is on anti-biotics at the moment to control this. Not surprisingly, he has been very distressed and at present is on strong pain management to help him relax and sleep.
Later still: Gregg has come back to Sutherland Hospital. I watched him walk with great effort and under strict supervision, this morning at St George, and then we got the good news he's transferring - almost home - but a good way to go yet - especially with suitable pain management, which continues to be ongoing experimentation to find the right one for his nerve pain. He needs to work hard in Rehab now, and I know he will get the best possible assistance with that. He'll have more physio attention on a daily basis, and more gismo's to ride and get moving on! Please keep the cards and letters of positive re-enforcement coming. He's getting so much encouragement from them!
Still later: Gregg has been moved now from the cardiac ward to the "Acute Aged Care Ward" which is 1 floor down from where he has been... apparently he does not need his heart monitored now, so he can go to a ward with other beds and not be isolated any more, and get the special care he needs. He has a Geriatrician now looking after him. It sounds like a positive move.
There seems to be so many serious events happening in his body. "Heart Failure", caused by "Oedema", very "low Albumin levels" causing tissues to swell and tighten in his hands, feet etc. "Malnutrition" caused by "low Albumin". He understands he's not in the best of health at the moment - it seems he has accepted whatever might be down the track - if there's just nothing else that can be done for him.
Today, he's up in the specialised chair which cushions his body and makes sitting more comfortable, and getting moved to another ward, with more instructions/medical intervention, etc etc. They were going to do another MRI yesterday to see if further surgery to his back may be possible... well, not at the moment, surely! He's got Pneumonia after fighting off an infection. He's now on oral antibiotics. He is fighting to regain strength, and if at all possible, to get up and do some physio, but at the moment that doesn't seem possible.
Gregg's wife Kerry writes:
Gregg passed away very quietly and peacefully early this morning at 3.15am at Sutherland Hospital after a long struggle to return to better health. In the end his body had no more to give, and he had done his dash.