We’re about half-way through Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and it seems as there’s been some progress in getting the word out. More organizations seem to be helping to increase awareness than in the past, and that’s a good thing.
I’ll have to admit that my own approach to PCAM has changed slightly. I’m more inclined to tell people to educate themselves before making the decision to test.
Those of us who have been dealing with prostate cancer understand how complex, convoluted, conflicting, and confusing it can be. If you’ve never entertained the notion that you can get prostate cancer, you probably haven’t paid much attention to the raging debates in the field. DRE or no DRE? PSA test or no PSA test? Over-treatment versus under-treatment? Active surveillance versus treatment? That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself before being tested.
One of my former managers always said, “If you can’t stand the answer, don’t ask the question.” Your decision to get screened for prostate cancer is exactly that: your decision. You have to be comfortable with either path you take, and the best way to make that decision is by being educated. Please take a few moments this month—Prostate Cancer Awareness Month—to learn more about prostate cancer and how it can affect you. You can start with my Resources page.
I finally made my family and friends aware of my detectable PSA shortly after my visit with my urologist in August. There was concern from those who responded but, on the whole, the reaction was good. I knew that sitting on this for a year would cause some deserved criticism, too, but they seemed to understand my rationale.
It’s a relief to have it out in the open now. As one of my readers wrote on his own blog, “A burden shared is a burden halved.” Yep. It is. (Sorry, I can’t find the quote again to give credit where credit is due!)
On the whole, I’ve been able to push aside the emotions and thoughts that the cancer may be returning, and it feels good to be reengaged in the world. The next PSA test is in December.
Now if I can just get used to the fact that it’s dark when my alarm goes off in the morning… It wasn’t that long ago that the sun shining through my east-facing bedroom window woke me up and not the alarm. Autumn and shorter days are here! (In San Diego, shorter days are about the only indicator of it being autumn.)
4 thoughts on “Month 70 – Sharing Awareness”
I really like reading your stories.
Good points as always Dan. I had lunch yesterday with a small number of close friends, one of whom recently had a double mastectomy and is having a heavy cocktail of chemo every 3 weeks for a year. The good news is that the masses are reducing.
I have a friend who refuses to get tested and I take your point about its everyone’s’ right, but also your point that you need to be educated. I know if I gave him a book or other information it would find itself hidden somewhere but wouldn’t get read.
I wouldn’t know I had cancer if I hadn’t got tested and would probably be i a pretty bad state by now based on how it progressed over the year from the diagnosis, when I chose active surveillance. The other thing for me is to ensure that insurance policies are up to date. As long as you don’t know you have cancer and your insurer or potential insurer doesn’t require tests and it certainly isn’t on the list of things I ever got asked to test for, get your insurance sorted before getting tested. As you know, once I told him, my insurance broker told e “You are now officially uninsurable”.
Having now spent 10’s of thousands of dollars to cover the limits that my insurance company will pay for (roughly 75-80% of the bill, up to a maximum per annum, that insurance becomes pretty important.
Anyway, my next tests are in about 5 weeks, must check exactly. I’m now on a very low dose of anti-androgen and the first month resulted in a 12% decrease in PSA. Hopefully that will continue because the oncologist said that if he had to up the dose, the side effects could stop me from being able to work, which would be a disaster. Work truly keeps me going, I love it and it keeps me busy, although the fatigue after busy days is tough.
Anyway, hope you’re doing well. I’m playing in a Blue September Poker tournament in a couple of weeks if I can stay awake.
Have a good one:)
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I hear you. Personally, I tend to agree that there is value in testing. It was dumb luck that we found my cancer during a routine DRE.
In retrospect, I wish I had taken a little more time to educate myself before making the decision to have the prostatectomy. Perhaps, knowing what I know now, I might have been more comfortable with the notion of active surveillance for the first year or so. But we’re so groomed to act immediately when you hear “cancer,” that doing nothing is counter-intuitive.
Your point about insurance is a valid one, too. I had a similar instance with my own situation for a brief period. I, too, was “uninsurable” after my coverage from my previous employer ended and before “Obamacare” kicked in allowing those with pre-existing conditions to be insured. Not fun.
I hope that all goes well for your next PSA test and that the anti-androgen therapy is doing its thing for you. In my panic of my PSA returning, I did a bit of reading on ADT, and it doesn’t sound pleasant at all. I’ll keep researching in case it eventually becomes part of my treatment.
I’ll be looking forward to your next update—I hope filled with good news.