Friday, April 15, 2011

The Men In My Life

I'm noticing a curious trend.

When I tell the men in my life about the prostate cancer, I'm getting the same reaction.

Of course they are concerned, and express their sympathy/condolences but then . . .

Then I see the fear come into their eyes. They ask me "So, how did they catch this? Routine visit or did you have symptoms?"

I know what they're thinking because until a week ago I would have thought the same thing: 'Well, if HE has prostate cancer, then I could have prostate cancer.'

And, unfortunately, they are right. Sometimes prostate cancer presents with no symptoms. No symptoms at all. And how scary is that? It's like there is a boogeyman hiding around the corner, waiting to blind-side you at the first opportunity.

I really wish that I could comfort them and allay their fears but I can't. Prostate cancer really is the boogeyman.

The only thing we, as men, can do is visit the Doctor once a year and get a DRE (digital rectal exam), watch our PSA levels, and be on guard for symptoms.

In my case I was presenting with symptoms. Difficulty and pain in urination, and unable to void completely. However, I'd been experiencing some of these symptoms for a long time. I'd had several bouts of prostititus over the years, and until the biopsy all the Doctor's were fairly convinced I was experiencing BPH - Benign Prostate Hyperplasia. Also, some of the meds that I'm on for the cavalcade of fun that is the prolactinoma can irritate the urethral tract. So honestly, I wasn't that concerned. Even when they ordered the biopsy and cystoscopy.

My brothers out there reading this - I wish I could allay your fears and make you feel better, but I can't. The truth - if you get a Doc that is honest with you - is that almost all men develop prostate cancer at some time in their life if they live long enough. How many actually die from prostate cancer is up to debate. Most prostate cancers are very slow growing, and many men that have undetected cancers will die of some other cause long before the cancer gets them.

One thing I have discovered in my research that kind of surprised me, although I don't know why it should, is that prostate cancer is big business.

Big business and big money.

More later.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My First Week

So, it's now been 1 week since the diagnosis, and what a week it's been.

I've run the gambit of emotions. From unbridled optimism to a soul-scorching fear.

If I had my druthers, I much prefer optimism. :)

And really, there is no reason not to be optimistic. All indications are excellent for a good recovery.

Still there is that nagging doubt. You know - the one that comes on at 1:30 AM when the world is dark and quiet and it feels like morning will never come. Yet morning does come, and with the light the demons of the night are banished as quickly as soap bubbles on the sidewalk.

No matter how strong my spirit those doubts were doubled when I logged into FaceBook yesterday and saw a new posting for "In Memorium - Auburn High School". Reluctantly I clicked on the link only to find two friends had recently passed. We hadn't kept up since graduation, but these were guys that I'd went to school with since Jr. High. We weren't 'best buds', but we took many of the same classes, sometimes sat at the same lunch table - you know how it is. In my mind they are frozen in time. Both still those awkward teens with acne and lofty dreams and a brand new Driver's License.

And now both are no more.

I don't know what happened to Joe, I couldn't find any hint on the web other than a short obit, but Tony died of cancer.

Add to that one of my dearest friends - also friends since 7th grade - and one with which I have kept in contact - is at this moment in a Seattle ICU battling melanoma and apparently a brain hemorrhage. I remember just a little over a year ago her and I sitting at a Starbucks, joking about the 'little tumor' they found on her chest/shoulder, and how it really was more of an inconvenience for her than a worry.

So no matter how confident I am those situation tend to gnaw at my resolve.

It doesn't take much for me to realize how lucky I am. Even with all the crap going on I will get to see my 50th birthday, and hopefully years beyond, while Joe and Tony's lives have ended. I can't even bring myself to think too much about Anne, although I still do.

On a positive note I've seen my Endocrinologist this week as well as my family Doc and both appointments went very well. I'll post the details another day.

So there is nothing to do but move onward. I'm looking into various prostate cancer treatments at the moment and weighing the pros and cons of each course of action.

You know, it's not that there isn't enough information out there. The problem is there is almost too much information. I feel a bit overloaded. More on that later as well.

In the meantime I'm still proofing the galley of my book. I'm planning my marketing and starting to think about cranking up some publicity and signings. I'm training for my "Escape From Alcatraz Swim" on June 25th, and tentatively looking at some longer motorcycle rides.

But for right now it all feels quasi-real and a bit hollow.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So, I gots da cancer. Oh, and a Prolactinoma. And Osteoarthritis. It's the trifecta of fun!

Firstly, thanks for visiting.

Secondly, if you are not a fan of dark humor, occasional profanity, stark honesty and snacks, then kids, this ain't the place for you.

So, I have prostate cancer. Early stage. I'll go into all the details in a later post. One thing I've learned in the past week is that we men love details - it's kind of like batting scores. We all know our stage, type, location, and possibly familiar lineage and voting preferences of that group of rogue cells causing all the fuss in our bodies. As well we should. Education leads to informed decisions.

And yet it's all very confusing. After looking into the available information on various treatments I feel like I've followed Alice down the rabbit hole. More about that later as well.

Personally, I'm handling this like I do most other things in life- with a bit of absurdity laced with . . . well, more absurdity. If you can't laugh then you're screwed. I like to tell people that I'm not really sick. I just have one of those 24 hour cancer bugs that hangs on . . . and on . . . and on.

As some of you know from my other blog Big Frickin' Adventures where I'm serializing my upcoming book, it's been one hell of a week for me.

Last Thursday morning I received the galley-proof of my book "David and Suzanne's Big Frickin' Canadian Motorcycle Adventure", (available soon on Amazon and other retailers! Yay!), and in the afternoon I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Talk about two ends of the emotional spectrum.

Actually this whole cancer thing pisses me off. It's not like I'm particularly healthy to begin with. Along with the prostate cancer I also have a benign brain tumor. A Prolactinoma. Which, for a man, is about as much fun as having your lip stapled to an overstimulated cat. Yet people hear 'benign', and then kind of lose interest. Then there is the osteoarthritis. From the base of my skull all through my spine. That's a barrel o' fun as well. I will elaborate on both, and how this impacts my decisions on treatment as we go along.

So, dear readers, in the following months - or years - I'll chronicle my journey. Warts and all. Everything from symptoms, fears, conversations with Doctors and specialists, and my own inner emotional landscape.

Hope you come along for the ride.

But let's agree to make it a short ride, okay?