Reasons to be Cheerful
A heartfelt plea was posted on our Facebook page: Are there any cancer success stories or is it all doom and gloom? It’s a tough question but I’m going to find some reasons to be cheerful.
Survivor stories of resilience
The first reason to be cheerful is this website, this community’s Facebook page, and all the other support groups. You’ll read and hear some tough stories, but I take great comfort from the resilience I find in others. I’m going to share some stories in an effort to find light in the darkness.
John encouraged other men to get screened
John’s arms were aching, so he went to the doctor. The medic struggled with a diagnosis and started asking about his family medical history. He mentioned his father was being treated for prostate cancer. The doctor ordered tests that came back positive. John had a successful prostatectomy, but unfortunately, his PSA level started to rise. Twenty radiotherapy sessions later his PSA level is now negligible.
A not uncommon story, but here’s the twist. He badgered his two brothers to get tested. It turned out they too had prostate cancer but, following the operation, are now doing fine. There’s more. John was on a mission and, as he says, ‘never underestimate a stubborn man’. At work, he started pressing other men to go for a digital exam. Several men took his advice and it turned out four also had prostate cancer. John has likely saved many lives and his dad is still going strong at 84. To this day he’s not sure why his arms were aching.
There is good to find after prostate cancer
Here’s Steve talking about his support group: ‘I intend to enjoy what remains of my life. I have made some wonderful friends in my local PCa support group, perhaps some of the best and closest friends I have ever had. I've found we all care about each other because we all have faced the same life changing and challenging experiences. I've had a wonderful life and feel I've been very lucky.’
When I was undergoing radiotherapy, I found camaraderie with other cancer patients I met there. Every morning at 8.30 I’d jump on my bike and cycle to the hospital for my appointment with the radiotherapy donut. The waiting room was small, forcing us to sit together and chat.
We became quite a tight little crew, but I want to mention one character who I nicknamed Stringbean on account of him being so tall and skinny. We were having treatment in the depths of winter, but every day Stringbean showed up in a t-shirt and shorts. I asked him why he dressed for the beach when it was freezing. He said a few years ago, he retired from his job in a government department. Not long after, he woke up early one morning thinking, I’ll never have to run for that 6am train ever again, I’m on vacation forever! He plans to wear holiday clothes for the rest of his life.
Steve found strength from his doctors and from his prostate cancer Facebook group: ‘My oncologist is a prince, his staff are beyond belief and they made this terrifying, humiliating, depressing journey ok. Every time I feel down, I remember all of the journeys that I see here every day that are much more difficult than mine. This group is the positive thing that has come from all of this. I get the opportunity to share experiences and meet other warriors. Never take your health for granted, see your PCP at least twice a year and get tested. God bless all.’
Embrace the moment and supply our own light
A final thought. When I was young the future was like a box of Lego waiting to be constructed. Now the future is here and sitting on my shoulder. The best you can do is embrace the moment and find your reasons to be cheerful.
As the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick said: ‘However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.’
Were you aware of family history of cancer, prior to diagnosis?