Hi, my name is Mike Morris and I'm 68 years old. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of 2019. I was 64 at that time. One day I got heartburn and it was bad, and I took the Tums and they didn't work. And so I went to my general care doctor and my primary physician and I said, "Hey, I've got this heartburn, can you take care of it? Oh, by the way, I got my new insurance card, but you're not listed as my primary. Can you change that?" "Yes. Oh, by the way, you get a free wellness test." And so I got this free wellness test and it showed that I had a PSA of 47 and the... Now a PSA over five is bad. 11 I think is the line of demarcation. I'm not an expert, but I think that's what it is. And mine was 47.
So he said, "We need to set you up with the urologist like immediately." And so we went to see the urologist. He did a biopsy and he said, "You have stage four and five cancer. It's already metastasized." And of course, the initial question I asked was, "How long do I have to live?" And he said, "Five years." Of course, he denied that later, but that's what he said. And so then an attorney friend of mine set me up with an oncologist and they did CAT scans and their magic, and they found out that I had cancer all over my body. It was in all my bones. But the thing that was amazing was that he stood there, Dr. Socks stood there looking at my report saying, "Why didn't it jump to another part of your body? There's no place for it to go. And yet, here you are." "Yeah, that's great, but can you do anything about this heartburn?" And that's true and I think that being from New Orleans, I'm used to dealing with crisis. And so this was just another thing that happened.
I've had many crisis in my life, and so the cancer really wasn't that big of an issue with me. I wanted to get rid of the heartburn. Now here's the miracle of the whole thing. So I go home, I take the medicine, put it up in the cabinet, walk halfway up the steps to go to my bedroom, and the heartburn was gone. And I knew in that moment that my life was being guided that I was supposed to have this. And of course, I hit my knees and thanked my lucky stars. My wife is a very strong loving woman. And so I just told her, I went to her school, she's a teacher. I went to her school and pulled her out of a classroom and gave her the news. My two children and my mother up in New York, I called and told by phone, but I just said that this is what it is.
Oh, of course. They responded with great compassion and understanding and maybe a little fearfulness about my future. Very concern, I would say concern more than fear, with great concern. And of course then they became very compassionate and they wanted to be at every meeting and every diagnosis and process.
I've been through three treatments. The first was Zytiga and the accompanying drugs with that, prednisone and XGEVA. Prednisone is like an anti-inflammatory, and XGEVA is to strengthen your bones.
Zytiga is an oral chemotherapy or oral radiation. And it was very successful with me. I went for 23 months. My PSA went from, like I said, 47 to less than the machine would read. But cancer, once you get cancer, you never get rid of it. It's always with you. It's either sleeping or it's awake. It's either passive or it's aggressive. And so after about 23 months, it started to come back alive and they put me on a chemotherapy called Taxotere.
Now, Taxotere is very severe. I was told that after three rounds, that's all most people can take. And that after four rounds, you're probably be in a wheelchair. I took six rounds standing up. The first round caused me great pain, especially in my legs.
You lose massive amounts of sleep and you're bedridden for weeks. And then the second round was pretty much the same thing, and the fifth round was really bad. The other rounds I just passed through that was just normal. I was able to function, but then it was diagnosed that Taxotere did nothing for me. There was no positive effects in my cancer. In fact, my PSA was rising and it was in the 200s. And so then I was informed that if Taxotere doesn't do any good for you, that the withdrawals are worse than actually taking the medication. And I was bedridden for four months.
And in that four months, there were some very, very dark times. I told my wife at one point that if I had to take this again, I would probably rather die. It was severe pain and it's just not like pain, pain, but shooting pain. And you didn't know where it was going to be. It would be in your legs a lot, but sometimes in your head or in your arm or whatever. And just like somebody taking a knife and sticking it in you. And that was not pleasant at all. So while I took Taxotere, my PSA rose to the point where it was 4 14, 414, which is high. Now there are people with PSAs way higher than that, but that's pretty high.
So then they said, "Hey, because you did so good with Zytiga, let's go back to the radiation." And then I was introduced to, I switched from the group that I was with, Mary Bird Perkins per my oncologist. He was working with Tulane University with Dr. Beretta on a new drug that didn't even have a name or it had no name. It was just numbers. And there were only going to be 50 people in the world. And I was number 24. And once again, the hand of the divine, when we first called Dr. Beretta, he said that the trial was full. That they only had two spots and the other spot was already taken. While we were on the phone with him, he said, "Wait, I've got another call." And he came back and said, "The other person we just found out has two types of cancer. So I'm scratching his name out and I'm putting your name in."
So I got into the clinical trial. My first question, question was, was there a placebo? Because I wanted, my PSA was really high. So if there was a placebo, I probably wouldn't have been as excited about going into it with 4 14 as a PSA. And so, and PSA stands for prostate specific antigens. It's kind of like a marker of how bad your cancer is. So they said there was no placebo. And so I accepted, and then they sent me the paperwork, 24 pages, and it said that I could get out of the trial at any moment, at any time, just say, "I'm done," and I'm done. So what did I have to lose? And plus, I had great faith in Dr. Socks.
And let me say this too. When you go find a doctor, become friends or make a bond with their PAs, because when you're in your darkest moments, it's the PA the physician's assistant that you're going to be talking to, not the doctor.
So make sure not only that you like the doctor and communicate with him, but that you have a bond with the PAs. And I think that's really important. And so I got in the trial and that drug is now called Hoxton. It's a radiation, it's given to you through needles and has no side effects. And I'm able to function. In fact, my PSA has gone from 4 14 to the lowest it's been is 0.02. At the last reading, it was 0.03, which is phenomenal.
Find people that you trust, see what's happening around you. Watch how the universe is leading you and just follow that path. I think that man is mental, physical, social, and spiritual.
If I was speaking to a Christian nation, I would say Luke 252, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, in favor with God and man." He, like I said, was mental, physical, social, and spiritual. And so I truly believe to help in the healing process, you have to allow your doctors to do what they do best. And then you have to supplement where and how you can. So it's very important to me that every day I get up and I like the teachings of Lao Tzu, the Dowdy Ching. He was a Chinese writer four centuries before Christ.
And so every day I get up and I read a chapter. I read chapter 60 this morning, or 60 to 70 versus 60, there's 81 verses. So I read 60 to 70 this morning. And I just think about it and what it does is it helps me get out of myself, get out of my mind, and allow positive thoughts to enter in. For you it may be a podcast or whatever, but find a positive influence that speaks to you and do it daily and give yourself a break. One of Lao Tzu great teachings is that from mercy comes courage. And I think we need to find a way to give ourselves a break so we can find the courage to face the day. You can't do everything, but do what you can do.
Two things that I think that are important is, one is walk in the sunshine. Is get out, get outside. That's the physical part of it other than is get out and be in nature. I swear to God, there's something about the warmth of the sun that just, it's healing. And that's not metaphysical. It's just not hoop de la, I feel good when I'm in the sunshine. And I think the other thing is be a social being. Go to your Christmas parties with your family. Go to your thing. And so what you throw up or have an accident, your family wants to show you, and your friends want to show you compassion anyway. Give them a reason to do it.
And those would be the other things that I would've said is it just don't let this define your life, live life, and just accept this as part of it. We're on a journey and sometimes things are pleasant and sometimes they're not. When my son was three and just beginning to talk, I came home early one day to just spend time with him. And we walked in the front yard, then we walked in the side yard and we were coming up the side steps and he says, "Daddy, I like this place better than the place before." And I said, "You mean you like the front yard better than the side yard?" He said, "No, I like this place better than the place I was before I was on mommy's tummy."
That moment changed my life. It changed with two degrees in theology. It changed how I perceived life. And I perceived that we are travelers and that this life, we're just not a one and done. But we're going to go on after we've learned the lessons that we're supposed to learn in this life. And that is the purpose of life, to grow, to be human, to make mistakes, to have success.
And so for me, cancer is just part of my journey. I've had many parts. I was a minister. I owned a big cleaning company, had 200 employees. I was a professional singer. I was a baseball trainer. I just retired from being a baseball trainer for 15 years. I've done lots of things in my life and there have been times of great joy and there's been times of destruction. I live in Louisiana and in Louisiana we had these things called hurricanes and they destroy your life. And so when I heard that I had cancer, it wasn't that big of a deal to me. It was just another thing to process in my journey. And it's part of what and who I'm supposed to be, to learn whatever I have to learn in order to move on.