Prostate Cancer and The Power of Love
I remember anxiously awaiting in the doctor's office for his arrival to review the results of my prostate biopsy. My wife was by my side, with her hand on my knee. The wait was stressful.
I leaned over to her and complained, "The doctor shouldn't keep us waiting this long." She nodded and said, "You're right. Waiting is brutal." And then she put her head on my shoulder. Her calm nature and caring affection helped distract my mind. I thought about how blessed I was to have her love and support, no matter the biopsy results.
Fearing the worst
While deep in thought, I was startled by the sound of the door opening. "Finally, he's here," I said to myself. After the usual greetings and handshakes, the doctor got right down to business. We listened intensely to every word he read from the biopsy report. He had our full attention. That is, up until the point he confirmed my cancer diagnosis.
After hearing the word "cancer," I could no longer focus and immediately thought the worst. My heart started to pound. I thought my life was over. My mind shut down, and I could no longer process any more information.
One step at a time
My wife recognized my distress, interrupted the doctor, and said that we needed a moment. She put her hands on each side of my face and lovingly said, "I'm here for you. Let's take it one step at a time." The warm touch of her hands and the sound of her voice helped me be more in the present.
And then, out of nowhere, a voice in my head said, "You're not dead yet." That thought made me realize that there was still time. Time to get my affairs in order and time to spend with my loved ones. And, more pressing, time to learn about my diagnosis. Knowing my wife was there for me helped reboot my mind just enough to refocus, listen, and ask questions.
Mind shutting down again
After the doctor concluded with the biopsy report and answered our questions, he indicated more tests were required. In the meantime, he recommended that I visit the BC Cancer Clinic to discuss options and to seek multiple opinions.
With that, we said our goodbyes, and my wife and I walked hand-in-hand to the car. The drive home was quiet as, once again, my mind shut down. I didn't want to talk about it, nor did I want anyone to know about my diagnosis. Getting a cancer diagnosis was devastating, and it was hard not to think about the worst possible outcome.
In a funk
At home, I moped about aimlessly in a funk. I had flashbacks of past memorable moments. I thought about my wife and children. And how they would get along without me. I thought about the future. And all the things I haven't yet experienced. I thought about all the wasted time working extra hours in the office on projects that I don't even remember. I thought about how I could have spent my time more wisely.
And then it occurred to me that I was wasting even more time by moping around the house. But I couldn't bring myself to talk about my feelings. Something that was frowned upon growing up as a male.
Writing a journal
Thank heavens for my wife. She didn't pressure me to talk and would often sit with me for hours in silence. When I did speak, she would actively listen with empathy, compassion, and without judgement. She understood how I felt and knew it was difficult for me to talk. Therefore, she encouraged me to write a journal. She said, "You don't have to share it with anyone, and you can always rip it up afterwards. Even I don't have to read it."
The thought intrigued me, so I started to write. I found writing incredibly therapeutic. It allowed me to reprocess my experience and to learn what I may have done differently. It also offered me a new way to communicate with my wife. Talking about my feelings was difficult, but somehow sharing on paper seemed more natural.
My wife's continued encouragement
With her continued encouragement, love and support, I wrote a book that Prostate Cancer Foundation BC provides free all across Canada. And even more importantly, we rekindled the fire in our relationship by writing love letters to each other. A great way to communicate when talking is difficult.
I owe it all to my wife. Without the power of her love, I would still be moping about the house.
Do you feel heard and understood by your doctor?