A Momentary Liberation: Part 2
Editor’s Note: This article discusses severe depression and suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please text or call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit their website.
I've always been a fighter
So there I was, back in May 2017, on a beautiful spring day in a local park, thinking about my predicament. I was on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), and my depression was starting to sink me. I had just spent some time in the hospital from a dizzy spell at work, so new bills would be soon heading our way, including for an MRI, and also for a very slow ambulance ride. I was pretty sick of all of it.
My life before cancer was about health and vitality. It was about running marathons and 10ks, and going on bike tours that traversed entire states. The person laying in that hospital bed crying from frustration about the unfairness of life wasn't me. I was never the rosiest person in the room, and I had my own share of self-induced crap in my life. But I always got through it, I always fought my way out.
My decision to stop treatment
This felt different. This felt like I had no control. This felt like whatever I did, whether trying to lose weight, or exercise a little more, or trying to think more positively, that none of it mattered. The ADT made everything seem impossible. A good day was followed by a bad week. I had struggled with depression before, but not like this. This brought me down to levels that frankly, scared me a little. Like, suicide fantasy level. I'm not going to describe to you the thoughts I had, because it is still too painful to think about, and it was a bit terrifying.
And that's when I decided, no mas. No more. Like Roberto Duran in his second fight against Sugar Ray Leonard, I dropped the gloves and decided to stop fighting. I picked up my cell phone, and called my doc, canceling my next appointment. I didn't want to know my PSA. I didn't refill my prescription. I refused any shots. In May of 2017, I walked away from treatment. I needed a break. So I vowed not to do anything for the rest of 2017. I had an appointment with my GP in January of 2018, and that's when I would get another PSA and see how I was doing. Until then, I quit.
Letting go meant freedom
Are you wondering how this could be called an attempted suicide?
Remember that 29 percent number I cited in my last blog? Stage 4 prostate cancer survivors only have a 29 percent chance of surviving 5 years once diagnosed. I was already stage three. My cancer had not yet metastasized, but any break in my treatments could cause that to happen, and then, boom, I'm in stage 4 land. So I was taking a serious chance with my health. So, what I was doing was a slow attempt at suicide.
It didn't feel like that at the time. It felt like...freedom. Freedom to run, freedom to bike, freedom to laugh, freedom to enjoy life the way God intended. Freedom to meet people and not shrink away, freedom to get together with friends and family and truly enjoy the summer, freedom to experience the magnificence of a Michigan autumn. I wrote a blog during this time about how Beethoven's 9th moved me, that "Ode to Joy" seemed to me one of the most amazing pieces of music ever written.
I even enjoyed the holidays. I'm not a big Christmas guy, but I had a great time that year meeting people I hadn't seen in a while, and I loved the fact my family still gets together for all of it.
An appointment on the horizon
And through it all, there was the looming January appointment. But I wasn't thinking about that. I was having too much fun. As suicide attempts go, this one was pretty painless.
But, not forever.
Thanks for reading.
Dan's story continues in A Momentary Liberation: Part 3.
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