Six weeks out of surgery, it’s all a blur.
That realization hit me last week when I went almost an entire day without thinking or talking about prostate cancer.
Seems like my life has been filled with nothing but talk of prostate cancer since I was diagnosed in February, went through surgery in April and recovery in May.
Now, I am back at work, looking normal, feeling great and acting as if nothing happened at all.
But, of course, a lot happened.
All I have to do is reread previous columns about this unexpected journey and the goose bumps pop up as I relive the fear of the unknown, the search for a solution and the reality of major surgery.
If I need further reminder, I can look at the 6-inch scar that runs down my belly, recall the pain of post-op and the humiliation of the catheter.
I suppose it’s only human to block those things out and try to get back to some kind of normalcy in life.
But once you get cancer, you come to know it will be a part of your life forever.
Six weeks out of surgery, it’s all about functions.
Since they removed my catheter, I’ve had no problems with incontinence. Having talked to thousands of prostate cancer patients, I realize how lucky I am in this department.
Sometimes I feel guilty about it.
Some suffer silently for years.
I credit the Incontinence Sisters (National Association for Continence). They convinced me early on that Kegel exercises would help. They did.
In the area of impotence, it’s still a developing story. My surgeon said he had to take a lot of nerves to get all the cancer. Time will tell how many he left behind.
In the meantime, he has prescribed low doses of Viagra.
Everybody says it takes time.
This is when you find out how much your wife loves you.
The medical maze
Six weeks out of surgery, my PSA is low.
My prostate specific antigen was almost 5.0 when we started down this road. Now it is 0.07.
Cancer patients can become obsessed with numbers. Sometimes, they’re all we have to go by. But every number brings another decision. Just when you think you’re done making choices, you have to make more.
I’ve been amazed by how much they lay in the lap of the patient.
One option for me, because I’m considered high risk for recurrence, is a clinical trial that’s pursuing the use of post-operative chemotherapy. They think it might lower the chances of the cancer coming back.
The problem is it’s a blind study, meaning you don’t know if you’re getting the good stuff or not.
Another option is to keep an eye on my PSA, check it every three months, and see if it starts to move up. If it does, zap it with some radiation treatments.
Right or wrong, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to step out of this medical maze for a while and see what happens.
It might come back.
It might not.
Six weeks out of surgery, I choose to be optimistic.