Dealing With Prostate Cancer: Some Keys To A Positive Outlook
"There is a malignancy."
My urologist delivered those words virtually, thanks to Covid, with the professional empathy and courtesy all patients deserve. Four simple words, routine for him, changed my world. Did I expect that? Absolutely not. Many prostate biopsies are negative, but the one I most cared about was not.
Was I completely surprised? You bet. But was I shocked? I really couldn’t be.
With my family history, I knew I might be dealing with prostate cancer someday, so I screened for it. I “passed” for 14 straight years, but the streak would end there.
Typically, early detection is considered the main benefit of cancer screening, which we expect will enhance treatment outcomes. But that’s not the only benefit.
It is very empowering to catch cancer. No longer will it continue in stealth mode. No longer will it “put one over” on me. Screening for cancer is taking control. Even though a positive diagnosis may cause things to spin completely out of control for a while, that control is not completely lost.
Making a treatment decision
Getting that control back after a positive diagnosis is one key to maintaining a positive outlook. Of course, it is easier said than done. The urgency of the diagnosis can lead to snap treatment decisions. But taking back control means doing things on your terms and on your own time, which can lead to the best treatment plan for your unique situation.
Be sure to gather as much data as possible prior to making a decision, because that can be critical for the next key – to fully commit to your treatment plan. Exhaustive research can lead to confidence in your choice, which helps make a full commitment to your plan possible.
Trying to be a role model
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson could have been referring to a cancer diagnosis when he said that. But do you stay down after getting hit or do you get up? What would you like your loved ones to see?
With prostate cancer in two prior generations, my son might have to deal with this, too. Knowing that, I wanted my experience to help him understand what is possible when facing cancer. And that is the next key: trying to be a role model for those people most important to you.
When you do that, you focus forward. Assessing blame, playing what ifs, or asking “Why me?” can be unavoidable, but looking back never helps. Maybe my genetics were strangely beneficial because I already knew the answer to “Why me?” The better question was “Why not me?”, but that didn’t mean that I was immune to looking back.
If I had eaten better, or exercised more, or not smoked those cigars, maybe none of this would have happened. But it did happen. That is my reality. So, the next key is to focus forward in order to resist dwelling on the past.
Humor is important, too, though on many days there is nothing to laugh about. There are many uncomfortable things that must be endured while on the PC road. For example, it seems like your rectum suddenly becomes public property! At the end of the day, it is helpful to realize that humor exists everywhere, even in a rectum!
Dealing with cancer
Dealing with cancer is a very difficult physical and emotional reality. Getting some of your control back, with a full and confident commitment to treatment, can lead to a more positive outlook throughout the rest of the ordeal. Focusing forward to resist the what ifs, while trying to be an example for your loved ones, can help. Adopting the attitude that “I can take whatever you can dish out” can also help to deal with the daily grind. Acknowledging that humor exists in unlikely places certainly won’t hurt.
Though cancer changes your world, many of the simple things that you enjoyed prior to the diagnosis are still there, unchanged. Don’t forget about those, either; they will still help to brighten the day.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?