My Post Cancer Life: Two Years Down, a Lifetime to Come
Two years ago today my life restarted. On March 9, 2009, I underwent successful surgery for Prostate Cancer. I was diagnosed almost by accident when a doctor visit for an unrelated minor problem turned into a regular check up. Although I kept telling my mom that I was taking care of my health, I had skipped my annual check up for the previous three years. My doctor’s expression changed ever so slightly after the exam when he said, “I think you should make an appointment with a urologist. I’m sure it’s nothing but I would like to know what he thinks.” Well, what he thought was that I had cancer. The Urologists actual words still ring in my ears: “There’s some cancer there.”
I spent the following few days in alternating bouts of optimism and despair, joking about giving up my prostate for lent at one minute and weeping the next. But with the support of my wife, information from the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation , and the excellent advice of several doctors, I had successful surgery.
Although recovery from the surgery was no picnic, I returned to work full time within 4 weeks and went on a 2 week bicycle trip with my family to my grandfather’s home town in Italy a little over 2 months post surgery.
But thousands of men in Arkansas and across the country are not so fortunate and die from Prostate Cancer every year. It is the most common form of cancer except for skin cancer. One in every six men will get Prostate Cancer in their lifetime.
The Arkansas Central Cancer Registry estimates that in a typical year around 2000 Arkansas men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and about 360 will die from the disease.
According to the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation:
- Age: The chance of having prostate cancer increases rapidly after age 50. More than 70% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
- Ethnicity: Prostate cancer occurs almost 70% more often in African-American men than it does in Caucasian men. Compared with men of other races, African-American men are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage. African-American men are twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as Caucasian men are.
- Family history: If a close relative has prostate cancer, a man’s risk of the disease more than doubles. With two relatives, his risk increases five times. With three close relatives, his risk is about 97%.
Although Prostate Cancer responds well to treatment, it still is one of the leading causes of death in men. Over 32,000 men died from Prostate Cancer in 2010.
Information is power. Men over 40 should talk to their doctor about when to start screening and men over 50 should establish an regular screening.
I was lucky to be in the right place with the right doctor at the right. But, men, don’t push your luck. Get screened. The Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation conducts mobile screenings around the state.
Go. Now. It may save your life.