A Momentary Liberation
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.
A time when I was feeling hopeless
In May 2017, I attempted suicide. Let me explain.
I was sitting in a local park on a beautiful spring day when I decided I just didn't want to do it anymore. I had no zest for life. I was crying a lot and what was left of my life seemed pretty hopeless. But my attempt was a little different than most. My attempt would take months to complete, or maybe even years.
Advanced prostate cancer is deadly
I am a prostate cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed with the disease back in 2010. I was 48 years old. I had my prostate removed. Three months later, the disease recurred, so I had radiation treatments. Two years after that, the disease recurred again, and I went on androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).
This is not an uncommon path for a lot of prostate cancer patients. If the disease escapes the prostate, the PSA will continue to rise even after surgery, when it's supposed to stay at zero. If the radiation doesn't kill it, the standard treatment is then ADT, which will keep the PSA levels down and hopefully prevent the cancer from spreading to the bones or other organs. Prostate cancer has a high survival rate, but advanced prostate cancer, when the cancer spreads to other organs or the bones, is a killer. The 5 year survival rate for stage 4 prostate cancer patients is around 29 percent. That is not a great number.
There are lasting mental side effectst
If the disease is caught early, there is a very good survival rate. But, even when it is caught early, and surgery is required, the removal of the prostate ain't exactly like getting your appendix removed or a tooth pulled. There can be lifetime side effects, such as incontinence and impotence. These are not small issues. They can affect your quality of life, not to mention the quality of your marriage. And they can also have an effect on how you see yourself as a man. Having to wear an adult diaper and/or not being able to have sex with your wife will do that to you.
How men react mentally to the various treatments of prostate cancer is what I'm going to be writing about over the next few months. Fighting any kind of cancer obviously takes a physical toll on a person, but the fight also takes a psychological toll that, in my opinion, doesn't get addressed properly by the medical profession. And prostate cancer treatments, in particular, can leave mental scarring on survivors long after the physical ones have healed.
Do I still want to continue treatment?
My own survivorship path got very bumpy once I started ADT. How bumpy? Bumpy enough to have me sitting in my car in the parking lot of a local park back in May of 2017, asking myself if I still wanted to fight.
And that's when I did it. I attempted suicide. But I didn't use a gun or any other instrument of death. I used something that we all carry around in our pockets every day.
I used my cellphone.
Thanks for reading.
Dan's story continues in A Momentary Liberation: Part 2.
How much do you worry about prostate cancer coming back after treatment?