Posted November 10, 2013 by jimhigley
I volunteer with a terrific cancer non-profit group, Imerman Angels 1-on-1 Cancer Support. As a prostate cancer survivor warrior, I’m matched, on a regular basis, with other young dads dealing with the same disease I was diagnosed with a few years ago at the age of forty-four. In my role as their “mentor” I’m there to give moral support, lend an emotional shoulder, and be the friend they can turn to during their newly minted cancer journey. I’m the guy they can shoot straight with. I’m there to share practical first-hand information based on my experiences. And I’m there to offer a much-needed ear.
It’s a role I love. And hate.
I love it because I always know that I am helping another young dad in a manner no one else can. When we first connect, these guys are always eager to share their story. I know they’re thinking it’s unique, surreal, and unbelievable. And I think to myself nearly every time, “Wow, I’ve heard this story before.”
There are usually three things most of them talk about:
Welcome to early-age prostate cancer men.
When I was going through my own diagnosis, I did it alone. Sure, there were a couple, kind seventy-something year old guys who were living with prostate cancer that told me everything would be okay. And while I appreciate their kindness, their journey is nothing like the journey a younger prostate cancer patient deals with. As a younger guy, you deal with so many issues that most doctors don’t fully explain. Sure, they tell you about the risk of impotence and incontinence. But the specifics and sub-topics under those are broad—and I’ve yet to meet a young guy dealing with prostate cancer who doesn’t want to hear every single detail based on my own experience.
It’s a great gift to be able to help another dad. That’s why I love volunteering.
What I hate is this: Inside every forty-something year old guy who has prostate cancer is a thirty-something year old guy who could have been diagnosed early.
Guys, we need to be diligent in our fight against prostate cancer. You know the old line about the “genie getting out of the bottle”? Well, prostate cancer is one genie you do not want to get out of the bottle. Your life—and chances of survival are greatly enhanced if you can catch it and treat it before the genie is metastasizing itself elsewhere in your body.
Once she’s out, you’ve got far bigger problems to think about beyond impotence and incontinence. Like whether you’ll be alive for the kids’ high school graduations.
How do you fight? Well, get a physical annually. If you don’t have a doctor, ask your friends for a reference. Or call your health insurance provider for a list of doctors. Do it. There are a lot of things you need to have baseline information on file with your doctor. Talk to him about your medical history and concerns and establish a plan of attack. One of the most common ways prostate cancer is picked up is though a PSA test. It’s a blood test. Period. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer if the numbers are high. It just gives your doctor a little insight into the health of your prostate. And the typical guy’s fear over the old rubber glove and an index finger? Get over it. It takes less time than blowing your nose.
Now go schedule your physical. Because, candidly, as much as I’m happy to help you with anything you ever need, I really don’t want to ever to be your mentor.
I miss my prostate. Now go take care of yours.
Support me, won’t you? I’m proud to be part of an awesome team of dads this Movember. Here’s my page is you’re up for supporting us with a buck or two.