Everybody’s battle is different.
Some get good news from the get-go. They’re in and out of the hospital and never look back. Others stay on the cancer treadmill for years.
Mine has been somewhere in between.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2007, I had surgery in April of that year and waited for the results as I counted my stitches. Like every cancer patient, I hoped it would be quick and easy. But it’s seldom so simple.
My numbers after surgery were encouraging, but not clean. The PSA (prostate specific antigen) in my blood still showed traces (0.07), which wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t perfect.
So we waited a few months and tested again. Unfortunately, the number began to rise (0.1).
That’s when they sent me to radiation. Seven weeks later, I walked out of Roper Hospital’s Radiation Oncology clinic hoping they got it this time.
Turns out, they did.
My latest PSA is 0.0.
When my wife, Bonnie, and I got that news, we let out a big sigh of relief. Since we started this journey, we’ve come to know a lot about prostate cancer and the men who have it.
We know some who are doing great 20 years after surgery. But we also know those who’ve been through every treatment they have and are still looking for answers.
I had mentally prepared myself for the next step, hormone therapy, just in case it was necessary.
I have a friend who’s been on it for a year. He says it’s not so bad, except for the hot flashes, which he calls male menopause.
As a cancer patient, you tend to look ahead. You get to know people who are ahead of you in the game and see what they’re going through. You always imagine yourself in their shoes, wondering how you’d handle it, hoping you never have to.
The latest good news means I might not have to.
But there are no guarantees.
I still drop by the hospital every week to see the folks in radiation, then swing upstairs to the urology floor to see guys who are just beginning the journey.
Hospitals are the best place to touch people, with kindness, understanding, hope and laughter. It goes a long way.
I like it when someone is on his way out, ringing the bell on the wall in radiation or being helped out to the family car for the ride home.
They all hope it’s the last treatment, the last day, the last time.
Indeed, we all hope for the same things in different ways. But in quiet moments we tell ourselves it is what it is, we’re doing all we can do.
We’ve learned that things like hopes and prayers are personal pleas, tossed on the winds of time, just in case somebody is listening. Reality is something else.
For now, mine is pretty good. I feel great. My doctors are smiling. My checkups have been extended from three months to six months.
But everybody’s battle is different.