OF A REACTION--PART 2
In the previous article, you read about my routine physical that didn't turn out to be routine. I outlined my initial reactions to the news that I could have prostate cancer. After writing that article, I have had to wait three weeks to have a biopsy done and then analyzed. The waiting took an emotional toll on me. It would have been a lot easier on my nerves had I not had to wait so long. All of my feelings were heightened during this hiatus in understanding my condition.
Even before the problematic physical, I have always viewed my life expectancy as a strange dichotomy. Part of me expects that I will have a short life. My mother died at fifty-three and my father at sixty-seven. Therefore, I have a rather strong pessimism about the chances of living a long life. The other side of this longevity dichotomy is that I can see myself reaching one hundred. George Burns and I share the same birth date, and I take that coincidence as a positive omen. During the last month of waiting, both extremes bounced about constantly within my mind.
Another reaction to a possible cancer prognosis was that I found myself walking around covetously looking at other men and wishing that I had their prostate. I found myself asking why I couldn't have had a healthy prostate gland like any one of those other men. Of course, once I entered that philosophical arena, I would also have to ask the question why had I been so lucky for most of my life. Many of my high school classmates are dead due to Viet Nam, accidents, and illnesses.
Fear was another heightened feeling. I had heard some horror stories about having the transrectal ultrasound biopsy to say nothing of the possible surgery or other treatments. I was scared. I wasn't ready for pain, suffering, and certainly not death.
Still another reaction to this prostate problem was that it has shown me the stark reality that I too am a terminal man. I now know for certain the terrible truth that I am not invincible--that some day I won't be. My gray hair and possible cancer witnesses to my mortality. I won't get through this life alive.
Along with the fatalistic realism that I will die sometime, the other uncomfortable reaction to this situation was that I am not in control of all aspects of my life. I can't assure good health by exercising and watching what I eat. Also, I might have to relinquish large amounts of control my to doctors, nurses, and hospital staffs depending on the results of the biopsy.
I also realized that I'm not quite as important or unique as I once assumed. I went to the University of Chicago Hospital where my friend, Joe, went. I wasn't the only biopsy done that day. I had to wait my time in the waiting room while others were having the same procedure done.
Fortunately, the biopsy results came back negative. The only thing that was found in the prostate gland was asymmetrical calcification. Another words, no malignancy--just some little pieces of calcium embedded in my prostate gland. My family physician had felt some of the calcium buildup. Without an ultrasound biopsy, there was no way of knowing for sure what it was.
I left my urologist's office and breathed a sigh of relief I had lucked out. However, even though I had bitten the bullet, I haven't forgotten an immensely important lesson about life. Weeks before when facing the uncertainty of whether or not I had cancer, I decided to live life now to the fullest. I realized that I have wasted many moments of my fifty-four plus years, and I regret it. However, without the prostate scare, I might have continued to blow the time of my life. I now have a new lease on life, and I will use my time left here on earth more wisely.
A word of friendly advice to you, my readers: eat wisely, stop smoking, limit or abstain from alcohol, and exercise daily. In addition get a routine checkup from your family physician. Above all, enjoy life. We are all terminal in this world, and at least in this world, we will only go around once. So, enjoy the journey to the fullest.