My name is... Well, I'm going to give you the whole name and then I'm going to explain it a little bit about it, it's Arthur Roland Bassette. My entire life, no one's ever called me Arthur until recently when first name, middle name, it's doesn't actually work anymore, so everybody calls me Arthur now. I quit correcting people and just say, "Yes, I'm here." So, you can either call me Arthur or you can call me Roland. Where did this start? Well, in January of this year, 2022, I had a blood draw and everything and all of a sudden, the doctor realized that it was 54. And so, at that point he put me into it with a urologist.
And from there, what we did was we started to work with it and it seemed that one of the things that I think probably should be improved is the fact that, "Well, we can't do this because it's not going to be ready for two weeks before I can get the certain person in to run a certain test." That pushed it from January into February. And then as the testing became more evident that it would look like prostate cancer and then it was, "Well okay, we're going to do a biopsy. Oh, it's not going to be ready for three weeks because they're behind," and those kind of things was how we really started with this. My urologist, he said, "Well, you know what? We're going to have to do biopsy." And so, when he did the biopsy, again, that was a couple more weeks. So, by the time I actually got confirmed that I had prostate cancer was three months later, near the end of March.
And at that point I had a meeting with him on what the biopsy was, how it was confirmed, and he said, "Well," he says, "it is prostate cancer and it's grown quite a bit." And he looked at me and he says, "Are you okay?" I said, "Yeah, I'm okay." I said, "I assume you already got the plan and you're ready to go?" And he looked at me and he said, "You're not going to complain that you shouldn't have prostate?" I said, "No, I have it. It's not going to change. Why should I sit here and cry? That's not going to help it." I said, "That's not going to make my prostate get better." I said, "Well, what's the plan?" And he says, I'm referring you to Dana-Farber."
At that point I felt a little more comfortable, but then, we had to go through a number of tests again, which that stretched it out. And finally, near the end of April, mid-April, we did have virtual meetings, because they had assigned a team to us. And so, we first met virtually with the surgeon who explained to us that, he said that we did not need surgery, that would not be what we needed. And then a few days later we had a conference call with the radiologist, and he said they made a decision that I did not need radiation. And so that's when finally we got to talk to our doctor, Dr. Morgans. And she had said, "You know what? We really feel like we could give you another 20 years." Because my smart mouth said, "Well, that's great." I said, "because I was only hoping for at least 18." And so, I had her laughing, I was laughing.
And I think that's part of what helped me get through all this. If you can't laugh, it's going to get you, it's going to really pull you down. So then we started out and she gave us the, "This is the plan." And then I did something really stupid. I was leaving a company that I was working for and I was going to be retiring the end of April, first day of May. And so, they wanted me to go out to Chicago to the main office and [inaudible]. While out there, I actually, after the first day I was out there I couldn't urinate and it was backing up. And so being me, I just wanted to go home but I couldn't go home until the next day when we had the flight. And so, I spent a day in pain. And looking back now, it was pretty stupid.
And then finally got into the plane, this was Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday I was on the plane, came back home. And then by Saturday my wife wasn't too happy that I really couldn't urinate or anything else. It was a lot of pain.
So called my urologist and they said, "Get to the emergency room right away." And they actually drained out about three quarts of urine that was in my body. And they just said, "You were really stupid and you could have died. Especially having that in you and then going in and actually going on a plane with the air pressure changes and everything." It's something I regret now. I probably could have been in, got it done over there and then be able to legitimately fly back correctly.
Once that was done, part of it, and I'm not going to go into too much detail, but if you've ever had a catheter, you'll know what it's like. And I had to have one in for almost two months, full months. Every end of four weeks we take it out for a night and it was just painful. So had to have it back in. And in the meantime, and this was kind of ironic, I retired as of May 2nd. So first things I'm doing as a retired person is taking care of my prostate. It wasn't exactly what I had always expected when I retired, but it is what it is and I can only blame myself for that part.
So at that point, I was working with Dr. Morgans, and she was giving us what they're going to do. So the first thing, it was, I think the week of May 6th, we had to go in and unfortunately, the week before or so, we both got COVID. And it was really funny because we didn't even know we had it, because nothing was happening to us. But because my wife was going to go visit her mother-in-law, it was a widow and wife; her husband had died a long time ago and she and her two daughters were going to go visit out of state. And so she felt, because the lady was in her late nineties, that she probably should get checked. And that's how we found out that we had COVID.
And it was wonderful because when we went to Dana-Farber, they had a specific room. They had someone there to take me around everywhere. And instead of me walking everywhere, the phlebotomist would come into that little room and they really did a tremendous job. And even at the point where, to make sure something wasn't ruined with my being there, spreading any of the disease, when I had to be scanned, they put me in at the end of the day, the last one so they'd have plenty of time to make sure they did everything. That was my first real introduction to Dana-Farber.
Going forward, what we did was, when we worked out with Dr. Morgans, the treatment was going to be once every three weeks for six times. We were starting that in June. By the time we started it, my PSA was 154. And as you know, that's really bad. Because we live out in Cape Cod and coming into the city is kind of a pain, because of driving two hours and then having to come in downtown to Boston is kind of tough. And she said, "Well, you know what?" She said, she goes, "We have the new one in Chestnut Hill." And she said, "I have to be there every Wednesday." She says, "So I'll make all your appointments on Wednesdays." So we could go to Chestnut Hill, which was two miles longer and 40 minutes shorter. So it really worked out well for us. So that was going to be our thing for every three weeks, we'd go there on a Wednesday, spend the day.
And I do want to say my wife has been with me every step of the way. Besides the fact, since we had to drive to Chestnut Hill, I'd drive up and then she'd drive back in case there was anything with the infusion and stuff. This is what we did, I'd drive up, she'd drive back.
She'd have to close her eyes when I'm driving and I'd close my eyes when she was driving, so it worked out really well. It was really perfection because you'd go in, check in, then the first thing they would do would be your blood draw. And fortunately, they also had a sense of humor, which is good for me because if you're thinking positive... you got to laugh, you got to have fun. And even though yes, I have prostate cancer and I could have died from it and everything else, it's not going to stop me. The first phlebotomist I had, she looked and she says, "Well, you don't have to look as we're doing the drawing." And I looked at her and I said, "Yeah, I do have to look at it." She says, "Why?" I said, "It's my blood. I want to know where it's going and what's it doing and how many vials we're filling up and everything else." And so she just started laughing. And so that became a kind of a thing, every three weeks, no matter which phlebotomist I had, we'd always sit there laughing about stuff.
I mean we went the first week, we had a couple of extra meetings, one was with genetics asking if it would be possible if they could have some vials of blood done so that they could help. And well, my reaction there was, I said, "Of course." I said, "You mean people don't say yes?" She says, "That's right." And the following week we had somebody that came in and said, "Listen, we're a student of the studies, if you have any biopsies, can we have what's left over?" And I'm like, "Yeah." And I said, "I assume that people don't do that." She goes, "You're right." I said, "Well no, do it." And if you're going to go there and you're going to be treated, you need to share it. It's really important. And so after that then it was every third week we'd go and I had a bunch of friends of mine, some regular friends and other work friends that I used to work with and they wanted me to send a note out with them, letting them know after every treatment I had. So I did that as well.
But it was really funny because the first week got there, all right, had my blood drawn. Then the next section is you wait and you have a conference with your oncologist. So we were there talking to Dr. Morgans. And then the last part is, and you're going to go down and get the infusion so you can get your medication. And it was really good because, and which I didn't realize until we talked to some of the people in the infusion section. And each one of these things is made up specifically for one person. That's why we'd go there and we'd start with just the saline solution to clear everything out, and we had to wait because they had to make and mix that particular stuff for me at that point in time, which was really cool, it's really good.
And the funny thing was, the first day we're there and everything's in and they start to pump the actual medicine in. They kept coming to me, they're going, "Are you okay?" I'm like, “Yeah, I'm fine. You okay?" And they go, "Yeah." And they come back, "Are you still okay?" I said, "Yeah." I said, "Are you waiting for something?" She says, "Well, by now, no, you should have already been sick or something." And I was fortunate that, a couple of things. One, they have a couple of drawers there with all sorts of cookies and things like that. My wife was always mad because I'd pick a whole bunch of them up, because I'd eat them while it's dripping. It's going to be dripping for an hour. And I'm wondering myself is because I was eating something the whole time, maybe that's why I didn't get sick. So I made sure, oh, for all six of them that I was going to eat a lot of cookies and everything else while I was there. And it really helped me get through it.
Oh, actually one of them, we actually had lunch there too, while it's dripping and everything else. So that was kind of fun too. But the people there were really great as well. But it was really funny. They kept saying, "Are you okay? You okay?" And I'm like, "Do I look like I'm not okay? Something I don't know?" But I was very lucky that, for whatever reason, I was never sick from the chemo. And that was something they were all very happy about too. And they were glad. So we did that for six times. We finished that in September. And I think it was the 25th of September, I think it was the last one that we did.
Talking back about the PSA, the first one was 154. The last one was 0.009. It worked. Well, nobody was believing me when I was sending it saying it's 154, then it got down to 55 and then 24. But yeah, the last one was 0.009. We get an injection, now it's going to be every three months instead of every three weeks. That'll stay there probably for life.
The other part I wanted to talk about was the pharmaceutical side. There was a new medication that had come out, I think in January they said, and Dr. Morgans really wanted me on that. And the problem was that it was going to cost, out of pocket, over $1,700 a month. And fortunately, and this is one of the good things about retiring, I retired and as of May 2nd and they started working with them on May 3rd or 4th. And to get the company Bayer, is the one, Nubeqa is the treatment. And the funniest thing was, somebody said from Bayer, we had to send in a thing with salary and everything else, but because I had just retired, I was just on social security. And so thank God for that. And so it was really funny because they were going back and forth and one of them said, "Okay, yeah, looks like he'll be able to have it free of charge."
And then the last day that Friday, the person from Dana-Farber's pharmaceutical team talked to a lady and she says, "Well, we never said that. We never sent anything in writing that it was going to be free and stuff." So she simply said, "It's 10 o'clock in the morning, I'm done at four o'clock in the afternoon," She says, "I expect you to send me the certificate that says it's free for life." She says, "Before four o'clock." She says, "This is Friday afternoon and I better be there." And she called me at two o'clock and they sent it. And that's going to be for life. So I get two in the morning after breakfast, two at night after dinner. It's not a big deal, it's just swallowing down two pills. If it's going to keep me alive, what the heck? I'm not going to skip and say, "Well. I'm only going to go do one today. Or I'm going to do four tomorrow because I only did two today." No, it's two in the morning, two at night and there you go.
And what I do is, when I'm running out, they send you a refill 120. And soon as I have maybe only about enough to do five more days, all I do is call them up and say, "Hi, I need a refill." And they get it out the next day. And so that's been very helpful too. And so that's the main medication that I'm taking now. And actually, I think right now it's the only medication I'm taking right now. And there are some things like calcium pills I take, I take as well, vitamin B. And that and that's it.
And so, we've come from 154 to 0.009 and we've come from doing chemo every three weeks to now I'll be just meeting with Dr. Morgans every three months, because that's when I'm going to get my shot and that's when we're going to have the thing; our meeting. And she's already arranging it so that we can keep doing that at the Chestnut Hill site because it's just easier for us to get there. And they've been so good as far as that goes.
That's where I stand now. There are a few things that you are going to expect, you're going to get some things every time you have the medication. For instance, in the beginning, the first couple of times my hands actually got a whole new skin because the skin came right off and came back on. So we thought, "Okay, that's not bad, I can deal with that." And then all of a sudden my fingernails all got discolored and looks like they're probably going to be... just they're growing out and it'll be fine. You hear stories about people having so many problems with the medication, that was all. I mean, it was really great for me that my hands, that was it. Anyway, that was it. And actually, yesterday I had to go to get an ultrasound because it seemed like there might be something in my legs, especially my left leg. But fortunately, it came out that everything was within normal stuff. It's probably just something I got to work out leftover from the chemo. So we'll just take care in doing that.
And while we're doing all of this, one of our meetings with Dr. Morgans, we explained that, gee, we hadn't put in our full money yet for... we were going to have a cruise. We had already planned to have a cruise starting January 2nd down to the Caribbean. And they said, "Well, should we ask?" And I said, "Well gee, should we really go and stuff?" She says, "Yeah, by then," she says, "go." She says, "No, don't worry about it." She says, "The way things are going," she says, "you'll be fine. You'll be able to go on the cruise and don't worry about it."
But you need to stay positive. Have a sense of humor. I mean, sometimes it's hard for some people. I could joke about, "Yeah, I'm coming in, don't forget, I really like those cookies so make sure you got those and stuff." If you do that, it's going to make it easier for you. It's going to make it easier for the people around you. And if you can't make people laugh, I mean, these are tough times. Yeah, it's 154. Oh, now it's 0.009. I mean, I'm well underneath the average, so it can work. But you got to do what the doctor says. You can't do things just because you think it's right, you just do it because this what's supposed to be going on. And this all started in January, everything got put together for the first week of May. And here it is, it's October and I feel really good. And so I'm hoping it stays that way for, well, as Dr. Morgan said, 20 years. I said I'm really good at 18. So as long as we get that much out, it's been a success.
There's always going to be somebody that probably didn't want to talk about it, but you can now. And it makes it easy. I mean, I'm not proud that I have it. I'm happy that we've got it to a point where they can manage it now. And I will be around for a few years. But it's like everything else, your state of mind actually influences your body. And people don't realize that. And I just really feel that if I'm not going to be positive, what's the point? I might as well just, "Hey, just give me a shot and kill me." Because you need to push, you need to push forward. So you had trouble. I had a catheter in for two months. Well, I don't have it anymore. Don't need it anymore. If you do what you're supposed to do, you'll come out and you'll be fine. Really do what people ask you to do and just go attack it. Don't let it attack you. You attack it.