My Salvation: How I Cope with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer
In general, I’ve had a good and happy life, worked hard, and been well-rewarded. It’s not always been a bed of roses though, and there have been times where life has been a struggle with business and professional problems, the very premature death of my father, and subsequently my baby sister taken far too early, another cancer statistic.
Then incurable prostate cancer hit me at age 60 at a time when I was supremely fit and training to take on one of the world's toughest ultra-marathons. Life hasn’t been the same since. Coping with effectively terminal cancer has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I’m often asked how I cope.
How I've coped with my diagnosis
It would be fair to say that every aspect of life has been adversely affected. But I’m still one of the lucky ones as I’m still here, still stable, and responding well to the treatment, however harsh the impact of that treatment is, and 5 years down the line and still able to tell the story.
How have I coped? It would be fair to say that exercise has been a massive part of my coping mechanism, and I’ve written about that before.
The other thing that has helped me cope has been my amazing wife and family, but particularly my grandkids.
Building memories with my grandkids
When I was diagnosed, I had one grandson who was 3 years old, and we absolutely doted on each other.
I remember the first time I picked him up from nursery, and my daughter-in-law was asked by the nursery how they’d recognize me. She said, “don’t worry, you’ll know!” I arrived and walked into the nursery room, and my grandson was 30 yards away. I shouted him and he looked up, saw me, and got up and ran across the room with a big beaming smile and his arms wide open waiting for my embrace. It was a wonderful moment that I’ll treasure forever.
I was diagnosed in the May of 2017, and my grandson was due to start school in the September, so I decided that I’d work part-time three days per week and pick him up from school and build memories with him.
Wanting to be a part of their future
All I could think about was that I would be unlikely to see him become a teenager, and making memories for him was so important. Now I think I’ve got an outside chance of seeing that day, which will be 10 years past my diagnosis and only four years away.
Our love for each other was totally unconditional and at times so overpowering that I could burst into tears at the thought of not being part of his growing up. How could that love possibly be shared with another?
Well, the answer was very easily. It seems that there’s enough love in my heart to share with more than just my grandson, as another grandchild came along the year after my diagnosis. I’ve been blessed with caring for him every Friday since his mom returned to work, and we also have a wonderful loving relationship.
The other thing that upset me was that I might not get to walk my daughter down the aisle. Well, I’ve done that as well, and it was on the same date that four generations of my wife’s family had been married, so it was incredibly special.
My daughter has gone on to bless us with our first granddaughter, the light of our lives, and in the new year I’ll be caring for her and building memories one day a week. I also have a step-granddaughter who has taken a place in our hearts.
Life is still tough
Life is still tough living with stage 4 prostate cancer, but the love of these little people and building memories for them is a great motivation to keep going and to help me cope with whatever this horrible illness throws at me. I hope to see all of them become teenagers, but that might be optimistic. I’ll give it my best shot, though!
How do other men living with stage 4 cope?
What emotions have you experienced from your prostate cancer journey? (select all that apply)