Parting ways with my prostate 2016.06.08


I know I'm making some people very uncomfortable these days. They think I'm just ignoring something very important.

After all, there I was at commencement. The next day I was at the Memorial Day observance. I made another newspaper. I was at the elementary school for field day photos. I was at the district softball tournament. And there I was all the long day of the state track meet.

Shouldn't you be…home in bed? In the hospital? I don't know, something besides life as usual?

Here's a question from someone that covers the topic quite well. It's my favorite one so far: "When are you going to get that #&@%$! cut out of you?"

That's a fair question. And what this person was referring to is the fact that I have prostate cancer. I've known for a few weeks now, so how come I'm not doing anything about it? That's a good question, too.

In my limited experience—and at least for me—I've learned that this form of cancer is a peculiar one in that there isn't much in the way of symptoms. For me, it's this: How can I feel so good and be so sick? Really, I feel as good as I've ever felt. It's almost easy to forget that I have it, but not quite. There's always the thought that something is growing inside me that could kill me.

How did this happen? I used to visit the Fulton County Health Center's biennial health fair and have my blood tested. The PSA level was always ultra low. Then I missed one because of something. Probably one of those darn sporting events that I had to cover. I think we went off to visit a child somewhere another year during the fair.

I didn't have a blood test until my Welcome to Medicare doctor visit and that's when I found out that something was going on down there. A malevolent force was making itself at home in my prostate.

It's a very slow-growing form of cancer and doesn't necessitate an instant attack by the medical forces. My doctor told me I should have it taken care of in the next couple of months and I will, so don't worry about getting that #&@%$! cut out of me. It will happen this summer.

And so in the meantime I continue to live a normal life. In fact, I even called my doctor's office a couple of weeks ago and asked if I should be taking it easy. Not necessary, I was told.

I should have asked about eating sugar. There's a popular notion that sugar feeds cancer cells and helps them to become more robust. The Mayo Clinic says that's a myth and it's explained on the website. When I learned that, I ate a piece of the pie we had last weekend when my kids were all visiting.

Here's where I am, for those who wonder why I'm not doing anything about it. My doctor has offered to remove my prostate—yeah, there's a lot of cancer down there—by using open surgery. A good-sized gash, a big mess, and a recovery period that doesn't fit my lifestyle.

I've been waiting for my appointment at the University of Michigan to give a doctor there the opportunity to convince me that robotic surgery is what I want. I don't know which form I hate to think about more. In this case, a doctor sits at a console and controls four robotic arms. Smaller gash, less blood loss, faster recovery time—as long as the doctor doesn't sneeze with his hand on the controller.

By the time most of you read this, I will have consulted at U of M and made my decision. And I still expect I will be living my normal life up to the day I surrender to the surgeon.

There's another reason I'm making some people uncomfortable. They think I live a healthy lifestyle. I don't smoke, I don't drink, my body seems to be in pretty good shape, I have a healthy diet. They figure someone like that shouldn't be in my predicament. If it happened to me, what about them?

And to think of all the times I sprinkled turmeric on my oatmeal. It still didn’t do the trick.

I'm certainly not looking for sympathy and the concept of "keeping you in my prayers" doesn't resonate. I just wanted to explain why I will be missing from action sometime this summer.

In case you're wondering, I don't have the time or desire to be worried or sad or angry about this. It is what it is. Let the battle begin.