The next step after the news
Nobody likes to hear unpleasant news. When the news deals with health problems, it is often greeted with surprise, confusion and shock, especially if the word is cancer. For men, prostate cancer is becoming a very common health problem. The disease is believed to be more common in men of African descent and is often diagnosed after the age of 40.
Three years ago, I visited my doctor for my annual physical exam. Everything happened as in previous times except that, this time, the doctor’s secretary called me and informed me that the doctor wanted to speak with me. I usually felt fine when the doctor didn’t call. No calls meant that everything was fine and that there were no adverse concerns or problems. This time, however, not knowing what the doctor would say was very unsettling. I felt something was wrong and not knowing was even worse. He never called before; Surely something must be wrong, I guessed.
I made a call to the doctor’s office when I plucked up the courage to hear the news. I’m not sure why I felt the news was bad. He was doing everything he could to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I exercised at a health club at least five times a week for at least two hours each time. He ate well and did most of the things that a normal, healthy person did. I also felt as good as ever.
The doctor informed me that he wanted me to have additional blood tests. He ordered a PSA blood test and two weeks after I was tested, the doctor called again and informed me in very direct language that I had prostate cancer. He was direct and to the point. I was shocked, amazed, confused, and scared. I started searching the internet to find out everything I could about prostate cancer.
My mind began to race as the doctor continued to explain what my options were. I hardly understood anything he said. All I could think about was that I might not have long to live. There have been many situations in which people who were diagnosed with various forms of cancer have been given short periods of life to live. In my mind, my confused mind, the reality of the brevity of life moved from side to side. I thought about school, my children and heaven and began to wonder what would happen. I started thinking about the world and all that I would leave behind.
I broke the news to my wife and two children who were present. My oldest son was in law school. He was informed at a later time. I called a dear friend and broke the news. He was willing to do whatever he could to help me through the ordeal. We talked about alternative treatments and what they would cost. He was willing to fundraise to help me get the best care.
A few days after hearing the news of my cancer, I visited my doctor, who assured me that I was in the best shape for a successful recovery as anyone could be. The cancer was in an early stage, which meant that a long life expectancy was possible. It gave me the option to decide the course of action for my treatment. As such, I decided that surgery was out of the question. However, only I held that position. Everyone around me wanted an operation. Their reasoning is that once the prostate is removed, there is a very high chance that no cancer remains. He was afraid of the consequences of the surgery. I was scared of the possibility of waking up during surgery. He had heard stories about patients who had woken up during surgery and what a terrible ordeal it was.
On my way from Ohio with my wife and daughter returning home for the Christmas holidays, I discussed the various treatment options available to me. My wife had said that it was up to me to choose the treatment I should receive. I quickly declared that I would go with a treatment that did not involve surgery. Before the last word could leave my lips, my daughter quickly stated, “Dad, you will have surgery, period.” The urgency and determination in her tone suggested that I wasn’t going to deprive her of my presence in the world. I was sure that I could not go against the wishes of my loved ones. I quickly dismissed my idea and decided to agree with the majority opinion, hers and everyone else.
Three years after surgery, there are no traces of prostate cancer. But the surgery was part of a more complex process that led to my current success. To learn about the various aspects of preparation and subsequent recovery, look for subsequent articles on this topic.