Monday, January 27, 2014

Moving Forward From Prostrate Cancer: What Every Man Needs To Know

Alan Krug of KrugsStudio
One of the most consistent threads of this blog has been the "design" of things in our lives. While we think that things just happen, more often they are the result of some sort of design. While many man made things often do not work out as planned, there was an attempt at design that either worked or didn't.

Medicine is a perfect example of man's attempt to "design" better health. Many a wag has said that a doctor has a practice because well, he is still learning what to do ... he is practicing with the implication that he is practicing on you! Years ago my General Practitioner on giving me a medicine said that in giving me this medicine it was an experiment. While they knew what it should do, they didn't know what it would do to me.

After prostrate surgery and all the steps that led up to it, I've discovered that not much has changed. Once I was over the initial shock of the implications and proof of the cancer, I then had to deal with the technologies currently available. While the awareness of breast cancer is rather robust, oftentimes reported on the nightly news. prostrate cancer, even among men is rarely IF ever talked about. There are walks and fun raisers for breast cancer but there is never even a whimper about prostrate cancer. Well over 200,000 new cases occur every year, over 60,000 die of it each year and something approaching 50% of all men have it when they die though it usually is NOT the case of death.

When I revealed to a poker group, men I've known for over 20 years, my diagnosis everyone sat poker faced and silent; then we "moved" on to other things. Finally one of them later told me he was under watchful waiting, something I knew I would never have.

My decision was surgery. After a battle between doctors adamantly against and those gently for surgery I made my decision when both sides told me that they would never know the severity of the cancer until they had it and could do the pathology of it. My GP sensing my fear and frustration referred me to the City of Hope and the surgeon I spoke too gave my wife and I a program and procedure that made sense. He would use robotics, the least invasive form of surgery that would also respect my own severe blood clotting problems. He said he could quote all kinds of long term statistics but he couldn't give me my own. I might still need radiation but until they could run the pathology of the cancer no one would know.

After my urologist adamantly opposed surgery and the radiation oncologist noted that without the cancer they would not know enough about it, I made the decision for surgery.

I am writing this in my den. I have been home four days now. I am stiff and a bit sore around the lower middle where I have 5 holes, four of them glued shut after robotic surgery. My City of Hope surgeon has a strict protocol that allowed me to get up and walk around hours after the surgery, and come home the next day. Once, this was one of the bloodiest types of surgery known as the prostrate is buried deep in the body. Now with the miracles of robotics little holes are put in you, a robot with tools and television gives a clear view of your insides and within a few hours the surgery is completed, blood loss is minimal and you are, at least in my case, good to go!

That said, I urge EVERY man and those that love a man to do two things every year after he turns 50 (40 if you have a family history of prostate cancer); they are:
1. Get a digital prostrate exam. Yeah the doc's finger goes you know where
2. Get a blood PSA test, this measures the prostrate-specific antigen. Readings over 4 need to be checked out. My PSA of 4.2 led to another digital exam that found a lump and a diagnosis. There is no pain with prostrate cancer until it reaches the bones. Then, well, I hear its a miserable death.

After this, my third strike at a near death experience, what will be my design? I have no intentions of giving up. My life may be changed in ways I may not like or want but I will have a life for awhile more. For me, my family and friends my art, such as it is, will be my legacy. It will be my decision on how I design these remaining years of my life. Can we ask for anything more?


No comments:

Post a Comment