May 23, 2010

“We have a cancer within – close to the presidency, that’s growing…” — White House Counsel John Dean, to President Richard Nixon, March 21, 1973

“We have a cancer within – close to the prostate, that’s growing…” — The Great White Shank, to his wife, Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yep, Thursday really was a tough day. It didn’t start that way, but that phone call from my doctor telling me I had the early stages of prostate cancer was certainly a wake-up call, I’ll tell you that.

As is typical in the case of these kinds of things, this story took a bit of time to unfold, and without a lot – actually, without any – symptoms. Back in March I had my bi-annual physical, with all the usual trimmings. And it was discovered then that, not only was I still slightly enemic (something I’ve been battling the past five years), I had a slightly elevated PSA level for males my age. Which, of course, meant a visit to a local urologist.

Me? All I was interested in was my cholesterol level (it was 210), which begs that old O.J. Simson joke:

Lawyer: OJ, I have some good news and some bad news for you.

OJ: What’s the bad news?

Lawyer: We’ve just gone over the Nicole Simpson murder scene and your blood is all over the place.

OJ (apopletic): J**us, what’s the good news?

Lawyer: Your cholesterol is 185.

So, I make my visit to the urologist and he’s like, “well, there’s really nothing to worry about, but just in case, to be on the safe side, I think we ought to do a biopsy of your prostate“.

Me, I’m a little concerned about this and so I ask about the procedure.

My urologist says, “Don’t worry, it will all be done under local anesthesia, you’ll be fine, we’ll help walk you through it.”

I’m thinking, no, I don’t like this one bit. But what choice do I have?

So a week ago last Friday I underwent the most miserable experience of my life. Local anesthesia be damned; all I can say is, anyone who has to endure this procedure oughta wonder why, if the CIA can work wonders with a micro-filament camera, why can’t most urologists? I mean, I’ve done colonoscopies, I’ve even had my wisdom teeth removed with only novocaine. Some say I might have a low threshold of pain, but I think I’m a pretty tough guy. Nevertheless, a prostate biopsy is no trivial matter, and I’m still, a week later, feeling the, er, effects. Without going into all the gory details, all I can say to y’all out there is, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Or something like that. It ain’t no picnic.

Anyways, fast forward to Thursday. The phone rings and it’s my doctor.

(Let me tell you one thing: anytime some doctor starts a conversation off with, “First of all, let me tell you, you have nothing to worry about”, that’s the time to start worrying.)

…so the doc tells my that I have the earliest stages of prostate cancer, and he starts reciting to me a litany of websites I need to start looking into. Cancer Treatment Centers of America, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, etc. – y’know, all those websites you go to when you’re feeling good, right?

He tells me my Gleason Score is a solid 6, and that things could be a whole lot worse. Me, I’m associating “Gleason Score” with the chart Jackie Gleason would have written out for his arrangement of “Melancholy Serenade”; I mean, what do I know?

Truth is, even though my cancer appears to be at a “very, very early stage”, the fact is, I am now, and will be, living with it. And as treatable as it might appear to be (I’ll know more on June 4 when I have a sit-down with my cancer advisor), I’m now, for all intents and purposes, a cancer patient and a member of the cancer community. I’m not losing any sleep over it, mind you (although I’m not ashamed to admit I was a little freaked out about the whole thing last Thursday) but it is something I know I’ll have to pay attention to over the coming weeks, months, and years.

I can’t help but think back to my first visit to my urologist. There I am, standing in line, waiting to fill out my paperwork, and this guy in back of me say, “don’t let anyone kid you, growing old sucks”.

I never before thought of myself as old or even growing old, so I couldn’t fully understand what he was saying then.

But I do now, and I sure as heck do now.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:05 | Comments (7)
  1. You know without my saying it that you are in our thoughts and prayers daily. Take care of yourself and keep us posted. Love and Kisses, Auntie Marge and Don

    Comment by Auntie Marge — May 23, 2010 @ 6:50 am

  2. Take care, GWS, and get well soon.

    Comment by Rob — May 23, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  3. We wanted to say good luck and we hope all is well. We are sure that you will be fine. YOU ARE A STRONG GUY and this is going to be like a papercut. Stings in the beginning but heals fast.
    Love me and Gary

    Comment by Lisa and Gary — May 23, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  4. “I’m now, for all intents and purposes, a cancer patient and a member of the cancer community”
    That is what affected me the most too! It will follow us forever. We can now pray for each other. Kim

    Comment by Kim Marra — May 24, 2010 @ 5:47 am

  5. It is a good thing this “early detection stuff”…sending hugs, love and lots of blessings for a more than good outcome.

    Comment by Jana — May 24, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  6. Thoughts and prayers from here too, GWS. It’s tough to hear, but “early detection” is very good news and something that greatly puts the odds well on your side. Check out all of the options and get second opinions. They have made great strides in treatments over the last twenty years, not just in treating the cancer, but also in minimizing side effects. Check out all of the options. My gut tells me you are going to be fine.

    Comment by Dave E. — May 24, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  7. Thank you all for the kind words and best wishes. I’ll take them all an won’t let you down. And you’ll be able to track things right here at the ‘Nation – good, bad, and indifferent – because otherwise what’s the point in blogging? Appreciate all your comments, stay in touch!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — May 24, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

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