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Mental Challenges Of Dealing With Comorbidity

Mental Challenges Of Dealing With Comorbidity

Comorbidity. I only became aware of this unpleasant word a couple of years ago. It is defined as “the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.” I have prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

My recent revelation

While talking to a member of the Health Union team about Parkinson’s, I felt something akin to a light bulb moment about my prostate cancer. Have I been in denial, apathetic, or just ignoring it as I dealt with Parkinson’s?

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s just over five years ago and prostate cancer three years ago. For the last three years, I have been very active in the Parkinson’s community. I have done little for myself and nothing for the prostate cancer community in the last three years. The thing that is probably going to get me I have ignored. What is that about? I have cancer. Shouldn’t I be doing something about it besides just the meds?

Explaining my denial

My denial explanation goes something like this. I feel good. My radiation treatments were 1 and 3 years ago with no side effects. I have no side effects from my meds and a 0.00 PSA for 14 months. When you feel good the hidden creep inside your body is not so scary. That being said I accept the fact that the creepy thing is still there.

I don’t think I am apathetic about the prostate cancer.

Maybe it is a form of denial, but I live an intensely active life with Parkinson’s self-care and community activities. I wonder, does my activity with Parkinson’s help with the emotional strain of prostate cancer. I am physically, mentally, and socially busy. I think I have become so immersed in one chronic situation that I have put the other on hold.

Diving into exercise

There is increasing evidence in the Parkinson’s community that daily and intense exercise will slow the progression. I have bought into the exercise program as I exercise two to three hours every day. Could this program help the body fight cancer and help the drugs work more efficiently. My oncologist (whose brother has Parkinson’s) says, “exercise has a positive effect. You look as stable as anybody could in your condition.”

I believe the exercise program helps keep the emotional stress at bay. Right now about the only time I have any anxiety is that monthly 24 hour period when blood is drawn until I get the PSA result.

Who knows the value of exercise? What I do know is this. It hasn’t done any harm. I suggest that everybody in the boat exercise to the end of their capabilities.

What I’ve learned so far

I have been told I have had horrible luck.  Hell, I think I have had good luck. I see what others with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s are going through. I am one of the lucky ones.

I have to take what has been handed to me and try to convert it into something good. At the very least I must push what is wrong out of the spotlight and refocus on the positive. I live in the real world and I’m keenly aware of how I could end up. I find that no pain, the slow progression of Parkinson’s, exercise, socialization, and a low PSA are my mind’s great stay against a possible awful ending. The goodness of time passing enables me to be comfortable. It is a kind of optimistic realism.

I am strongly aware of my cancer and have started to immerse myself as I have done with Parkinson’s. There is more. What do they call it when one has more than two chronic conditions? Multimorbidity. I have more but that’s another story.

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.


  • Will Jones moderator
    2 months ago

    Thanks for you article, Tom. I have coronary artery disease (stents, heart attack) and prostate cancer (surgery, PSA 0.004). Neither one dominates my life, but both are reflected in my choice of diet, exercise and openness about both conditions. I admire your commitment to everyday exercise. It’s good for both mind and body, especially as one ages. Looking forward to reading more about your prostate cancer journey.

  • ninaw moderator
    1 year ago

    You have a unique voice and a powerful experience to share, @sevensix. I hope you won’t avoid venting, as it is important for wellbeing too. However, your encouragement and determined words are extremely valuable and appreciated. This quote in particular speaks to me: “I was not accustomed to obstacles and now I am deftly maneuvering around them in a power chair full speed ahead with almost reckless abandon.” Thank you for sharing these words. – Nina, Team

  • sevensix
    1 year ago

    1. Recurrent prostate cancer. Treatment (IMRT) #26 of 39 radiation sessions. Lupron and Casodex androgen deprivation therapy.
    2. Progressive MS. Spasticity, autonomic dysreflexia.
    3. I never let a medical crisis go to waste.
    4. It’s life, deal with it.

  • ninaw moderator
    1 year ago

    This is the second time I’ve heard a comment along the lines of, “I never let a medical crisis go to waste,” @sevensix. I’m curious if you could go into more detail about what you mean? It sounds like you manage to stick to the present and deal with things as they come. Thanks for commenting! – Nina, Team

  • Will Jones moderator
    2 months ago

    Inspirational, @sevensix. You really say it all in the first two sentences of your reply. Phrases like “determination and resolve” and “live life to the fullest” that appear later are a reflection of how to approach all of life’s challenges. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such detail. As Nina comments, a strong voice!

  • sevensix
    1 year ago

    Adversity is a birthing platform for opportunity and hope. From there comes the discovery of strength
    we all have within us individually and collectively as
    we plot our course through life. May 1983 two weeks before I married my sweetie I received my dx: Primary Progressive MS. Oh boy, now I have a problem.
    I was not accustomed to obstacles and now I am deftly maneuvering around them in a power chair full speed ahead with almost reckless abandon. I am not interested in what is behind me, only what is ahead of me do I pursue it with enthusiasm for the prize that awaits me.
    There are challenges that have to be faced squarely
    with determination and resolve for a positive outcome no matter how severe and painful the experience might be, square your shoulders, head held high, and give it all you got for better or worse.
    It is a worthy fight.
    MS has satellite issues that camp on my doorstep.
    Time to get the broom and clear the path. This is a prostate cancer website. How am I doing? For starters I did not change horses midstream having learned to be resilient yet tough standing my ground without prevarication for what may be looming on the horizon.
    Cancer came and it went. It came back to essentially ruin my day. Weeks before doc gave me the official dx cancer had returned, I sat down with my wife and told her this is cancer and we must deal with it head-on. There is no alternative. A treatment decision must be made now. This is a seminal event
    and all the buzz words in the universe will not alter the course of this disease drawing upon reserves and experience for another battle deep within my body. Faith assured, I am not alone.
    Yes, I deal with insurmountables one day at a time winning and losing at every corner.
    I have an opportunity to live life to its fullest as one battle is retired and another finds its way into my life.
    Unless there is another way to do this I’m sticking to my guns because it works and gives me hope for another day. MS will make your life miserable, cancer might kill you. That’s all the motivation I need to quip myself for the blessings of life and the joy of living despite my ills, I will not quit.
    The reason for this reply was my previous comment bordered on bellyaching and frustration and it carelessly slipped out. That is not my style; sometimes I am overwhelmed and I vented. I mean to encourage, to lift up, keep the beacon of life well lit and bright, to extend a hand to you. Thank you for listening. I am indebted to all of you.

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