As men, we often play many roles in our lifetime: father, son, provider, protector, warrior, husband, and the list go on and on.
Ask any man what his most important relationship is, and he most likely will say family. Yet when it comes to personal health and prostate cancer, I am always amazed at the number of men who either refuse to be checked or, worse, still reject a confirmed prostate cancer diagnosis.
Ignoring the threat
I often use the analogy of “A Cave” when speaking to men in our support group about prostate cancer. Back in good old caveman days when the local Sabertooth Tiger decided you looked like the perfect afternoon snack, you made a few decisions fast: do nothing and be eaten, hide, fight, or run back to the cave and throw more logs on the fire that guarded the entrance to the cave.
While we are no longer being chased by tigers, we are still chased by our fears and the many pressures of living in a rapidly-evolving technological society. Too often rather than facing the reality of a medical diagnosis, men will throw themselves into their work or choose to hide behind a computer or large screen TVs and hope the glow of those flickering screens in the "Man Cave" will keep the threat away.
Many men tend to ignore or avoid doctors at all costs, and doing so can result in men dying years earlier than women. Chronic white coat fear can eventually lead to the discovery of a previously unrecognized condition at an advanced stage. Early detection can often result in a much better outcome.
Taking action sooner rather than later
Many serious diseases from lung cancer, diabetes, and prostate cancer can be asymptomatic (don’t show a lot of evidence of their presence), making them easy to ignore in the everyday rush of life. Unfortunately, many men will discover that prostate cancer is not always the so-called “good cancer” it is often believed to be.
Today, not tomorrow, is the time for men to embrace the most important role in their lives – be responsible for your personal health.
For many men, being healthy means running in a marathon or working out at a gym. While important, nothing beats a routine physical and/or a timely, candid conversation with your physician about any prostate or below-the-belt issues you might be facing. Too often we ignore minor annoyances like getting up several times a night to pee, only to find years later that we have put our lives in danger.
Not long ago I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While I had no idea of what the early indicators would be for that disease, deep down I sensed something was not right. Yet I waited several weeks before seeing a physician.
Fortunately, the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caught early at stage 2, and I was able to receive treatment to arrest the disease. Had my lymph nodes not caused pain by pressing on my bladder, I may have continued to ignore the occasional twinges I was feeling.
Routine visits can be lifesaving
Today I am a three-time cancer survivor – twice with prostate cancer and now with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In every case, it was a combination of luck and routine check-ups that caught my diseases early.
Do not presume that because you are male or that "You feel OK today" that you are indestructible. Take it from someone who is still alive after 3 brushes with cancer. I am proof positive that routine MD visits and conversations with your doctor can save your life.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?