There by the Grace of God I still go
It has been a little over a year since I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Yikes! Me with cancer? Maybe I am guilty for sticking my head in the sand but sometimes I forget.
One year ago, after the first biopsy, I was lucky that the prognosis was to Actively Monitor. The problem area was in a small area and slow growing. The chances of not needing treatment in the first five years was 70%. For this I was very grateful.
A year goes by very fast. But it was time for the for the annual biopsy at Shands in Gainesville. My confidence level was very high because there have been no symptoms and the blood PSA tests were steady though out the year. At least this would be a good excuse to go to Gainesville. Here I can indulge in my favorite exercise; stadium steps! Yes Florida field is open to the public. Some people think I am nuts because once, we drove to Gainesville so I could spend an hour at the stadium, 1008 steps up and 1008 steps down. Surely this would help me evade any insidious disease.
At Shards they are very thorough and the first step in the annual checkup was a MRI. The next step was a follow up with the Urologist. As we settled in the examination room, the doctor pulled up the images from my MRI. He paused and looked at the images and said he was uncomfortable with the spot on my prostate. He did not like the shape or the elasticity. The biopsy was scheduled for the following week. I was really uneasy about this scheduled procedure because they do not use sedation. Friends who had previously traveled down this path warned me of the pain and discomfort. Staff in the Doctor’s office related that most people did not have issue with this test. For me, this was not true. It was one hour with a pain level of 7-8 while they were using an MRI and Ultrasound shooting needles in the prostate for samples. Thinking back, they would warn you to be still before taking each sample. An analogy for me is “It’s kind of like being shot in the foot and they tell you to keep still while they shoot you again. This is something that I will not ever, ever repeat without sedation.
Well, another trip for the results was scheduled for the following week. Hey, at least I can do stadium steps. When the doctor came in, he sat down; and started talking; it seemed like a dream. Was he really recommending I should have treatment? Surgery, radiation, and all the options went spinning by. The Doctor was really good and he spent an hour with Morgan and me. He suggested we go home and look at the options. I was numb. You never want to be in a room when people start talking about my life expectancy with different treatment options.
No male wants to have prostate treatment, especially with the potential side effects. Some elect to get the cancer out of their body as soon as possible, some want to avoid surgery and chose the radiation.
It was quite a surprise when we were leaving his office, he came running out into the waiting area and asked us to return back to his office. He recommended they run a gnome study on my tissue samples. My first response was no, not another test! He laughed and at first said yes, but paused with a smile and let us know they could use the samples they already collected.
So now, it’s another waiting game. Friend and family are all chipping in with their recommendations. A big part of me wants to be depressed.
But still when I look around, there is a lot to be thankful for. This is currently not a life-threatening disease. There are way too many people with bigger challenges than mine. I am blessed with a great wife and family. There is just too much good in life and we live on a great big beautiful planet. Our country has great landscapes and it is generally safe to live. We also have lots of freedom and choices. That’s where I choose to focus. It is sometimes tough to remind myself how good life is, but when you think about it; there are too many opportunities to love, smile and laugh
When there is still uncertainty, my trust in the above comforts me. There by the grace of God go you and I.
So, I urge you to get outside and go for a walk. Grab a family member or friend or go solo. Don’t focus in the negative things in life. Focus on what is good. It sure works for me and it’s a lot more fun. How about you?
Are you in?
Originally Published in the Tallahassee Democrat 03/28/2014
Copyright © 2017 Gregg Patterson. All Rights Reserved.