Friday, February 20, 2009

Neighbor's prostate diagnosis brings back memories

My wife brought home the news yesterday from her bus commute that one of our neighbors has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
I immediately asked my wife to see if the guy wants to talk with someone about it. I can imagine the shell-shock he must have felt at getting the news.
It has been nearly two years since I got the first hint that I may have prostate cancer. An MD first noticed a spike in my PSA at an annual check up in April 2007. By August it had been confirmed by follow-up tests and a biopsy, and I had my robotic laproscopic surgery in September.
My first reaction was surprise, then shock (my father and a close relative had both died of cancer).
Even though the diagnosis was scary for me, I had a lot of support from my family and medical community. I got busy reading about prostate cancer and its treatment. Luckily, I was "healthy" enough to get surgery that would take the bastard out of there for good.
So what I'll suggest to our neighbor is to listen to his doctor, get a second opinion, read up on the disease, contact a prostate cancer support group and make a decision.
Then I'll warn him that even when the cancer is gone, the side effects of treatment can linger. Men suffer varying degrees of incontinence or erectile dysfunction, but there are ways to deal with those problems too.
The important thing is to take action and not passively accept fate.