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That ability to accept one’s insecurities and admit helplessness is something men never learn.

Unless, one admits suffering, one has no chance of getting over it.

It takes courage to keep the faith even when all hope seems extinguished.

Courage is accepting that you are afraid and are still facing your fears.

That is what being a real man, is about.

This is something I learnt the hard way on my 50th birthday.

Here is the story around it.

On my 50th birthday, I decided to give myself a rather strange gift: getting tested for prostate cancer,and Oh my! I really got the gift pack that was not in mind,though it was always probable at that age; I was told that my PSA was off the chart, an almost sure sign that I had advanced prostate cancer.

What a gift pack to celebrate my life that has clocked half a century!

I’ve handled many other challenges in my life,but this one takes the first prize,no doubt.

But before you start pouring in some sympathy,get yourself tested first,that will be the best thing you can do for me!-more on this toward the last part of this post,please.

Despite the relatively asymptomatic nature of prostate cancer, I was not greatly surprised considering my age.

However, a definitive diagnosis of advanced, incurable prostate cancer is at best a wakeup call, at worst a life threatening judgment.

My life would never be the same again.

I am convinced that an unequivocal positive attitude and a confident reliance on the healing powers of the body through our God-given immune system are essential to dealing with cancer.

I do not expect my cancer to be cured.

I will be satisfied with coming to terms with it – perhaps a standoff-Like North and South Korea, a 50- year truce,so to say.

I guess the medical term might be “remission.”

It has been more than three years since
my diagnosis.

My initial treatments seem to have been successful.

I feel as though I have walked. (Or should I say stumbled?) through the valley of darkness and am emerging, a bit weakened and chastened, into the light of a normal existence.

One of my personal therapies is increased physical activity.

At age 53, I am determined to continue
playing best love songs on a playlist I didn’t know I would cherish during the september of my years.

I also try to eat right and sleep adequately.

But most of all, I maintain a positive attitude.

I find that I pray more, I drive less aggressively(that’s good for my car and other road users too!), and I move more
slowly and deliberately.

The world of cancer, which I have entered, has changed the way I look at everything: my life, my relationships, the trees, the sky.

I hope I am more gentle, more caring, more sensitive to others, more open, and more flexible.

I find that my priorities have changed.

I still feel passionately about certain issues, but I realize that they do not
depend solely on my efforts now.

In many ways, my life is richer.

I have learned that cancer can be treated as a chronic illness.

There will be highs and lows, peaks and valleys.

I have gone through the first “valley of tears” and am now on a high plateau, perhaps moving toward a peak.

My prayer and hope is that I will have the courage, strength, and grace to again face the darkness of the next valley, whenever it comes.

It took a while for me to learn how to face
the challenge ahead.

I realized I needed to get on with life.

What else could I do?

I’ve always been a bit of a high-strung person, but this just brought out the anxiety in droves. I realized I needed to stay positive.

I had to keep busy and let my partner
encourage and help me,though I’ve never been good at taking help.

I learned about my particular form of cancer and what kind of treatment was available for me.

I learned to brace myself to face the challenge ahead.

Keep busy and stay positive

During treatment, I tried to stay busy to
keep my mind from going negative.

My partner helped with that.

Suddenly, the neighbour’s children needed babysitting and things needed fixing around the house.

Sometimes I think my partner broke things on purpose so I would have to
fix them. I presume that in her beautiful mind,she intends to validate my worthiness around the house by “cooking up” situations that are meant to remind me that I’m still the “man” in my home and I should man-up and take charge!

She is a clever one,my Daisy!

And you are reading this journal,thanks to my cancer; I would never have thought of it if I knew I had long to live!

Clichés

Scattered among the hundreds of thoughtful and caring responses I
received to my prostate cancer diagnosis from my, friends, and colleagues, there were a few reactions that were
difficult to handle.

After listening to several people attempt to say the right thing while assiduously avoiding the idea of cancer itself, I sorted their deflective responses to my bad news into one of three categories:
soothsayers, minimizers, and fixers.

Soothsayers

A soothsayer’s favorite expression is “Don’t worry. Everything will turn out fine.”

Variations include, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” and “God gives you only what you can handle. I know you’ll be able to handle this.”

While responses like these were
meant to be encouraging, in the end they felt like clichés that moved immediately to a happy ending – and jumped right over my need to process, and eventually to accept,the fact that aggressive cancer had become
a reality in my life.

From my point of view, it was a fairly long time before I would be able to say,
“Yes, everything will indeed turn out just fine”,without sounding both cynical and sarcastic.

By focusing only on the happy ending,
the soothsayers inadvertently excluded the intermediate struggles that lay between then and now.

Eventually, I decided that the soothsayers, by automatically presuming an optimistic outcome, did so because they were simply emotionally unable to entertain a bad ending.

My standard reply to their presumed sunny outcome became, “Well, I certainly hope so.”

Minimizers

At least the soothsayers always assumed a positive ending to my illness.

I was less sure about the minimizers.

To be sure, prostate cancer has one of the highest cure rates of any cancer.

But as I was looking down the long dark
corridor of tests, procedures, and
eventually, treatment, all these positive
statistics missed the point of my individual experience with aggressive cancer.

Rather than encouraging me, the minimizers only tended to deepen my gloom when they made comments like, “Oh, my husband had prostate cancer. They took it out and he’s fine now.” Or, “Prostate cancer has a high cure rate, you know.”

Yes, I already knew.

Or, “My brother-in-law came through the
surgery with flying colors. You’d never know he had cancer.”

Despite their undeniable good intentions,
the minimizers’ focus on what had
happened to other people conspired to
diminish my own experience, possibly even implying that I was just a whiner at heart.

In the end, my response to the minimizers was simply to say, “I’m really glad things worked out well for him.”

Fixers

Many married men have probably heard
their wives accuse them of trying to “fix” a problem rather than taking the time to
listen sympathetically to their feelings.

I certainly count myself among that oblivious multitude.

But it was only after hearing several men tell me what I should do in order to cure my cancer did I really get what my partner, Daisy, had been telling me
all these years about prescribing a quick fix without actually listening to her.

Fixer statements I heard included “You should have the proton beam treatment,” “Make sure you insist on robotic surgery,” and “I know a great urologist.”

All these solutions were offered before I
even had a definitive staging of my cancer, much less even knew what treatment options would be feasible for me.

As with the sooths and minimizers, these
statements were made with a sincere
intention to be helpful.

But every fixer definitely hitches to the cliché “fire, ready, aim.” They focus more on outcome,than the due process of getting to the outcome gradually-that is,they start from the top/down approach as you can from this convoluted cliché.

Once again, all I could do was smile
appreciatively and say, “That might be an
option. We’ll have to see how things go.”

Within a few weeks of my diagnosis, I had
pretty much gotten used to the soothsayers, minimizers, and fixers.

I always wanted to keep in mind that their intentions were harmless.

Their messages were just clumsy.

I had certainly responded in a similar
manner to other people’s problems at one time or another without realizing I might be doing harm.

By focusing on the caring intentions that lay behind their words, I could see they meant only the best for me.

As time went on and they recovered from the initial shock, most of the soothsayers, minimizers, and fixers eventually became sympathetic – even empathetic – listeners.

Had I made the sarcastic responses that so greatly tempted me when I heard their comments, I would have hurt both them and me.

In this instance, I was glad that I had chosen to be patient.

Through all this, I have learnt that the best cliché as far as cancer is concerned is “get yourself tested,if you haven’t already”. That’s more helpful to any one than any other cliché or remark you will ever make!

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

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