Unknown Cost of Cancer
The moment an individual is told they have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, they begin to pay a heavy cost not only financially but emotionally.
Cancer can cost a person their career, their friends, and their family. I have personally witnessed cancer warriors losing their spouses during the never-ending battle with this disease. Some folks are not willing to suffer through this ordeal with the cancer patient.
Depression after losing my career
I count myself as one of the fortunate ones. My family and friends could not have done a finer job stepping up to the challenges. As I look back, the real cost I paid was the loss of my career. Being a 30-plus-year veteran of teaching and coaching, it was very distressing to lose my job and be forced into disability retirement by advanced prostate cancer with extensive bone metastasis stage 4.
Losing one’s career can cause, and did cause with me, deep and disheartening depression. At times I would break completely down and cry. It is extremely difficult to go from working every day to barely being able to walk around or mentally function. Chemotherapy had been a tough battle for me and my family. Do not ever let anyone tell you that “chemo brain” or “chemo fog” is not a real phenomenon.
Chemo brain, bone pain, and extreme fatigue cost me dearly on a daily basis. It was near impossible to continue to teach or coach while suffering daily pain, muscle fatigue, and diminished brain function. I was a physical educator and coached numerous sports. At one point, I received some directives from my school principal, and by the time I returned to the gym I could not remember one word of those directives.
The loss of complete brain function was clearly going to be a risk for all my students. Feeling tired and my loss of concentration due to the constant bone pain was clearly affecting my job performance. I was able to perform for short durations in the range of 2 to 2 1/2 hours, but in no way could my body and brain hold up to full work days. My work days consisted of far more than the typical 7 1/2 hours of most occupations. I would spend many hours beyond that timeframe coaching.
No time to prepare
The effect of losing my career was two-fold in nature. One, I lost a significant amount of income going from full-time employment to disability retirement. My family went from a monthly income of around five grand to an income of below half that amount with no time to prepare. This was a traumatic circumstance for our family’s wellbeing. I have to be truly honest: this was a real struggle for our family and continues to be to this very day.
Second, I began to suffer immensely from depression. Not a slight depression, but a deep, dark lingering depression that bordered on dangerous. I was conditioned to be around hundreds of people a day and engage in numerous conversations daily.
Upon my cancer diagnosis and having to abruptly retire, I was forced into spending endless hours at home with only my immediate family present. My body and mind were in a dire condition with no sign of relief.
The power of the human spirit
I believe wholeheartedly the only things that saved me were my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, my family, and my many friends throughout the community. The Lord blessed me daily by answering my numerous and never-ending prayers. My family wrapped me in their endless love and companionship. And our community rallied to my cause with continuous cards, letters, visits, and prayers. Some even organized fundraising events to aid my family financially.
In the end, I have to witness to the power of the human spirit. Not only my inner spirit, but the spirit of our surrounding community. They saw our family paying a high cost and moved quickly to support our family and myself both mentally and physically.
I often have heard people lament that people are not caring these days, like they used to be in the olden days. However, I am here to bear witness, people are kind and generous just as much now-a-days as they used to be in the so-called good ‘ol days.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?