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The Stories We Don’t Share

I talk about my father’s prostate cancer journey a lot, but what I haven’t shared is how many times we almost failed to get here.

My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 72. It took almost a year before he was properly diagnosed. His family doctor had misdiagnosed him. He realized that my father was getting worse and advised him to see a urologist.

The symptoms begin

The symptoms began with him emptying his bladder, which was uncomfortable during the process. This was followed by a faint stream of urine. His practitioner insisted that there was nothing wrong. He was finally able to see a urologist. His pelvic discomfort grew so severe that walking and completing simple activities became difficult.

With the data from the family doctor, the urologist promptly requested a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. My father wasn't surprised, but I was worried by the results. I didn’t know what to expect, and then they found a second cancer (throat cancer). This is another story.

Deciding on treatment

The results showed that his left side was the most impacted. The physicians set out numerous treatment options for him to select from. It was so frightening. I helped him make the hard decision about the type of treatment he should take.

I had no idea what was going to happen, and he had a lot of decisions to make. This was very perplexing, but the hospital team was there to help us both. After much deliberation and weighing of the risks and benefits, they had decided on what treatment to take (his physician recommended surgery, which he opted for). Remember he was diagnosed with 2 cancers at once.

A difficult time

His treatment began three weeks later. After a few days, he was allowed to return home to heal. His skin was very dry and itchy for a week after the treatment (which I was told may have been a side effect).

The prescription was quite expensive, and his medical insurance was exhausted. We had to rely on cash, and this put a strain on all our finances. I could see the anxiety in his wife's face, even though she put on a brave face. We all had to sell various things to stay afloat. This was a very depressing time.

Having faith in the healthcare team

It has been a long journey, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. He was able to see the urologist every 6 months, and his condition steadily improved. Overall, he was able to empty his bladder without pain, and his pelvic floor no longer hurt like it used to. He made it, and I couldn't be happier.

I’m only the daughter, but my advice to those who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer is to gather all information accurately. Please have a support system in place. I know for me that I had to have faith in his healthcare team. An important thing along this journey can be to keep a journal to track your progress. It will come in handy.

You are not alone

My father will be 90 this year and has developed chronic kidney disease and COPD. He has corrosion in his back from years of bending from being a landscaper, and smoking for years caused COPD. This does cause him pain, but his healthcare team has him on strong medication. He still walks short distances every day and overall, he is doing very well.

Remember you are not alone on this journey.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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