The Next Step After the News

No one likes to hear unpleasant news. When the news concerns health issues, it is often received with surprise, confusion, and shock, especially if word is cancer. For men, prostate cancer is becoming a very common health issue. It is believed that the disease is more common in men of African descent and is often diagnosed after the age of 40 years.

Three years ago, I visited my physician to have my annual physical. Everything occurred as in previous times except that, this time, the doctor’s secretary called and informed me that the doctor wished to speak with me. I usually felt good when the doctor did not call. No call meant that all was well and that there were no untoward concerns or issues. This time, however, not knowing what the doctor would say was very unsettling. I felt that something was amiss and not knowing was even worse. He never called before; something must be surely wrong, I surmised.

I placed a call to the doctor’s office when I summoned the courage to hear what the news was. I am not certain why I felt that the news was bad. I was doing all I could to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I exercised at a heath club at least five times a week for at least two hours each time. I ate well and did most things that a normal, healthy individual did. I also felt as good as I ever did.

The doctor informed me that he wanted me to do additional blood work. He ordered a PSA blood test and two weeks after I had the test done, the doctor called again and informed me in very direct language that I had prostrate cancer. He was direct and to the point. I was shocked, amazed, confused, and frightened. I began to search the internet to find out all I could about prostrate cancer.

My mind began to race as the doctor continued to explain what my options were. I hardly understood anything that he said. All I could think about was that I may not have long to live. There have been many situations where people who were diagnosed with various forms of cancer had been give short periods of life to live. In my mind, my confused mind, the reality of the brevity of life moved back and forth. I thought of school, my children, and heaven and I began to wonder what will happen. I began to think of the world and all that I would be leaving behind.

I broke the news to my wife and my two children who were present. My oldest child was away at law school. She was informed at a later time. I called a dear friend and broke the news to him. He was ready to do all he could to help me get through the jarring ordeal. We discussed alternative treatments and what they would cost. He was ready to raise funds to help me get the best attention.

A few days after hearing the news of my cancer, I visited my doctor who assured me that I was in as good a shape to have a successful recovery as anyone could be. The cancer was at an early stage which meant that a long life expectancy was possible. He gave me the option to decide the course of action for my treatment. As such, I decided that surgery was out of the question. Only I, however, held that position. Everyone around me wanted me to have surgery. Their reasoning being, once the prostate is removed, there is a very high probability that there would not be any remnants of cancer left. I was afraid of the consequences of surgery. I was afraid of the possibility of become awake during surgery. I had heard stories about patients who had awaken during surgery and what a terrible experience it was.

On my way from Ohio with my wife and daughter returning home for the Christmas holidays, I discussed the various treatments options available to me. My wife had said that it was up to me to choose the treatment I should have. 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 asserted, “dad, you will have surgery, period”. The urgency and decisiveness in her tone suggested that I was not going to deprive her of my presence in the world. I felt for sure that I could not go against the wishes of those I love very dearly. I quickly dispensed with my idea and decided to go along with the majority opinion – hers and everyone else.

Three years since surgery, there are no traces of prostrate cancer. But the surgery was one part of a more complex process that led to my current success. To learn about the various aspects of preparation and the ensuing recovery, look for subsequent articles on this topic.


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