A year ago today I had a doctors appointment that changed my life forever. The appointment was to go over the results of a biopsy that I had undergone the prior week to determine why my PSA level was in the high 70’s. Normal is under 4. My symptoms were similar to a urinary tract infection, or UTI, except they hung around for months. I had a constant urge to pee and, when I did, a weak stream that burned. My then-doctor and his predecessor both believed that my symptoms and elevated PSA, due to my young age, were due to inflammation, a condition known as Prostatitis. I didn’t have any reason to doubt either of them.
As Jodie and I were lead back to the exam room we passed my doctors office. He was pouring over a folder full of paperwork for I assume me, his next patient. He didn’t look up and looked very very tense. In retrospect it’s amazing how much information you can glean from a 5-second glance. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. At that point I knew something was up.
“I’m sorry, but you have cancer.”, my doctor told me after settling into the exam room.
The rest of the appointment was a blur. I remember sound bites.
“All cores positive”.
At some point I rushed over to Jodie to keep her from falling out of her chair. She had passed out in shock whereas the diagnosis still hadn’t registered in my mind.
Somehow I managed to drive home and call my mom on the way. My gut reaction was to warn everyone in my family to get checked. Prostate Cancer can be hereditary and my grandfather had died from it in his early 80s. My mom took the news better than I thought, or did a great job suppressing her emotions. Both she and my wife have been my rocks throughout all of this.
It’s been a crazy year since. In March I had surgery to remove my prostate. Next week will conclude 35 rounds of radiation. I’m also on a two-year cycle of medications to starve my cancer ( and me ) of testosterone.
If I sound like a broken record, it’s for good reason. Prostate Cancer is cureable if caught early enough. If you have a family history of the disease, are African American, or ex-military you have an even greater chance of being diagnosed. Please get checked. It’s as easy as a blood test.
The best part? I’m alive and am I’m going to be around for a very very long time.
Take care. Stay healthy. Live life.
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