Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis is never easy, but for me, it was particularly unexpected. I was only 52 years old, in good health, and had no family history of the disease. Yet, in 2018, after a routine check-up, my doctor noticed an abnormality in my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and ordered a biopsy. The results confirmed that I had prostate cancer, and suddenly, my life was forever changed.
Living with Prostate Cancer: A Survivor’s Story
The first weeks were a blur of consultations, tests, and decisions. I learned that my cancer was localized, meaning that it had not spread beyond the prostate gland, and that I had a few treatment options, including surgery, radiation, and active surveillance. After weighing the pros and cons and discussing with my urologist, I chose to have a radical prostatectomy, which involved removing the entire prostate and some surrounding tissue.
The surgery was successful, and I spent two nights in the hospital before going home to recover. However, the following weeks were challenging. I was in pain, had trouble urinating, and was anxious about whether the cancer had been completely removed. I also had to wear a catheter for a week and deal with the inconveniences and discomforts it entailed.
Fortunately, I had a supportive spouse, family, and friends who helped me through the rough patches. They cooked for me, drove me to appointments, listened to me vent, and cheered me up. I also joined a prostate cancer support group where I met other men who had gone through similar experiences and shared practical tips, emotional support, and coping strategies.
As I recovered physically, I also started to resume my normal routine, such as work, hobbies, and exercise. However, I also had to adjust to some lingering effects of the surgery, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. I worked with a physical therapist and a urologist to improve my pelvic floor muscles and test different treatments such as medication and vacuum devices without much success.
Nevertheless, I didn’t let those setbacks define me. I focused on what I could do, such as eating healthily, staying active, and staying positive. I also educated myself about prostate cancer, attended conferences and seminars, and advocated for more research and awareness. I wanted to inspire others who may face prostate cancer and reassure them that there is life after diagnosis and treatment.
So far, my follow-up appointments have been encouraging. My PSA levels are undetectable, and my scans show no recurrence. However, I know that prostate cancer can be unpredictable and that I still need to be vigilant and monitor my health regularly. But I also know that I can face any challenge with resilience, determination, and gratitude for every day that I have.
In conclusion, living with prostate cancer can be a daunting experience, but it can also be a transformative one. As a survivor, I have learned to appreciate my health, my relationships, and my purpose. I encourage everyone to prioritize their prostate health, get screened, and seek support if needed. Prostate cancer is beatable, and the more we talk about it, the more we can overcome it.