“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”
Frank Herbert, “Dune”
That quote from the 1965 science fiction novel is one of my favorites. It signifies times in our lives when we must change. Even though we may be comfortable in our slumber, what’s waiting on the other side of sleep is profoundly better for us.
I thought about this concept recently as I underwent an awakening.
In January, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. May 9, I underwent surgery to have my prostate removed. I have every confidence and hope that I will be cancer free going forward.
I have struggled with talking about the cancer but the more I learned in the past half year, the more convinced I have become that men need to become aware of the disease.
Prostate cancer normally presents without any outward symptoms. Often when symptoms arise, the cancer has moved beyond the prostate to other systems in the body, complicating treatment and recovery. It is estimated the older a man becomes, the greater the odds are you will contract prostate cancer. Men in their 50s have a 50 percent chance of the disease, men in their 60s (like me) have a 60 percent chance of developing cancer. The older a man is, the greater the odds of contracting prostate cancer. My urologist told me if men in their 80s who died of other causes were examined, eight out of 10 would have some form of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer can grow undetected for years. A blood test for the prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein made by the prostate gland, is the way any irregularities are detected.
The prostate's most important function is the production of a fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands, makes up semen. It’s an essential part of the male reproductive system. Since it is part of our sexuality, discussion of the prostate can seem to be embarrassing. If you feel that way about it, I suggest you grow up and wake up.
Since my diagnosis, I have been fortunate to talk with and ask questions of a prostate cancer survivor. Gene Johnson, Publisher Emeritus of the company that owns this paper, underwent surgery and everything that followed 20 years ago. He has been a tremendous resource of practical knowledge about the disease. I will forever be indebted to him for his help.
The surgery to remove my prostate was done with the assistance of a robot. It look about five hours. I woke up with a sore stomach and a catheter. A catheter was left in my penis for a week to help with healing. I spent the week after the surgery at home, navigating life with a bag that collected urine.
It was far from glamourous, but I think being cancer free is worth putting up with a catheter for a week. I will need to work my bladder muscles to ensure I am not incontinent, but I can do that.
I also learned how blessed I am to have my wife, Diane, and family and friends. I am grateful for their kindness and help.
If you are a man and aren’t having the PSA blood test annually as part of your physical, you need to awaken. You are taking an unnecessary risk with your life and your family’s security.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at email@example.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.
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