People come up to me with kindness and concern in their voices, asking how I’m doing, hoping not to say the wrong thing.
When you get cancer, any kind of cancer, it instantly assigns you to the other side of that invisible line that divides those who have it and those who don’t.
Sometimes I think it’s easier for those of us who have it because we quickly become comfortable talking about it.
Those who don’t always feel a little awkward, worried about saying the wrong thing.
Since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer on Feb. 2, I’ve had two months to get used to that reality.
And because I’ve been writing about the experience, it probably seems even longer.
Now the countdown to my surgery has officially begun.
April 17 is getting closer and closer, and with each passing day it becomes more of a reality.
I’m getting to the point where I just want to get it over with.
The reason why
Most people I meet ask the same question – why wait so long?
I wondered the same thing.
When I learned that my prostate was cancerous, my first reaction was to get it out as soon as possible.
The doctors, however, didn’t share my sense of urgency. They took their time, did a lot of tests and told me to schedule surgery in about eight weeks.
It took a while for that to sink in and come to grips with the waiting period. But now I know why.
Fortunately, prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease, so a few weeks or a month won’t make that much difference.
And the surgeons like to give the prostate itself time to recover from the biopsy procedure.
They say that makes it easier to remove.
Once you realize you’re not going to die the next day or the next week, it all starts to make more sense. But waiting is still the hardest part.
Perhaps the second most important decision I made in regard to this unexpected journey was to write about it.
I told Bill Hawkins, our executive editor, that this was an issue that hit our demographic right in the gut.
Furthermore, I said, in typical newsroom humor, “It’s a good story if I live and a better story if I die.”
A veteran newsman, he had to stifle a smile and agreed.
Not only has this series served as journalistic therapy for me, it has opened the door on a subject that men my age seldom talk about.
By putting my prostate on the page, I hope it will persuade some men to get regular checkups and help others who are struggling with this problem.
The third decision I made was when to have the surgery.
Since I had to wait anyway, I studied the calendar very carefully.
If a week or two won’t make much difference, what the heck, I might as well cover the Masters and the Heritage golf tournaments before I go.