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Need A Break?

If you have been treated for prostate cancer like I have been, you probably visit a urologist or radiation oncologist on a regular basis.

Let’s not go there

After being poked and probed for a few years, I gradually found myself avoiding routine annual physical exams. Deep down in the depths of my male mind, I reasoned, “Enough is enough”. Who really needs a wellness visit or preventative health appointment after you have beaten cancer?

Not seeing a GP was my choice. The independence of not going gave me a feeling of control. While keeping on top of regular prostate cancer check-ups was needed, avoiding additional medical visits also offered a sense of freedom. I consoled myself with the knowledge that I was seeing a doctor every 6 months so why add another level of frustration. Like every male, I knew everything was ok and it would be fine to let minor health things slide for a while.

Superman meets kryptonite

All was going well until I couldn’t turn my head one morning. A self-diagnosis revealed a very large but unnoticed lump next to my windpipe. The dreaded appointment was made with the GP who, following an examination, suggested it was most likely an infected lymph node and treatment was to be a round of antibiotics. As a precaution, a large needle biopsy along with a CAT scan was ordered and fortunately, the results confirmed that it was not cancer. It was suggested by him and my wife that had it been caught earlier; the biopsy may not have been needed. So much for avoiding routine check-ups.

The unexpected wake-up call prompted me to speak with other men in our prostate cancer education and support group. Turns out I was not alone in wanting to avoid routine health visits following prostate cancer treatment. I reasoned if a few men in this group were also avoiding “unneeded” visits, chances were good many others were in the same boat.

What’s my normal now?

Following any significant medical procedure, the tendency is to want a break. That break however innocent can put a prostate cancer warrior like me and perhaps you at risk. Following cancer treatments, I experienced fatigue, weight gain and loss of energy to name a few. Depending on the treatment it’s possible to face bone and muscle loss along with heart issues and more.

Slowly I began to realize that avoiding regular visits cut me off from several benefits. Regular visits with my MD for a wellness check actually gave me an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about my changing health. I was also missing out on valuable information like what might be going on with my height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure and more. By not going I was also routinely missing out on the advantages of keeping him informed.

You can't take a break from your health

I was not keeping him engaged in my personal health. My MD probably sees hundreds of patients a month making it easy for him to lose track of me. It’s in my best interest to keep in touch and stay involved. For me going through cancer treatment and beating it (so far) created a hidden elephant in the room. The lesson I wanted to pass on...it’s not always best to take that much needed medical break.

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