MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Six – Clarity/Decision

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Six
Clarity/Decision

“The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!”
— George S. Patton

I am delighted and relieved to have received the expert advice and clarity to help me make a very important decision.

Lynne and I went for our “second opinion” meeting with a top oncologist and surgeon at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The drive to Dana-Farber was easy. Mass Pike to Route 9 East, avoiding downtown Boston (which for me, is always a preference). Thank you, Garmin! Valet parking – very nice. As soon as we exited the car, we were met by a friendly volunteer “ambassador” who walked with us to the elevator, and accompanied us to check-in. This was “customer service” at it’s best, and just brilliant, especially considering the emotional and physical stresses of the patients and their loved ones. He even checked up on us after we checked in, asking if we had any questions or needed anything. Made us feel good. Great work, Dana-Farber!

After our meeting with oncologist Mary-Ellen Taplin, there was no more doubt – I would get the surgery. Adios señor prostate …

We then met with Dr. Jerome Richie, who elaborated on the options for surgery – open vs robotic – risks and benefits. Lynne and I liked him very much. Dr. Richie does not use the robot, and has performed approximately 3,500 of these procedures. That’s what we wanted. We’re looking at later in July.

On the way home, we had the pleasure of a fabulous meal at Margaritas in Framingham. We had a great time and celebrated the day!

I am grateful for all the prayers, positive thoughts and support from my friends and family. Most of all, for the love, hugs, experience and organizational skills provided by Lynne.

I am determined to get through this with as much grace, patience, courage and humor as I can … successfully meeting the challenges of moodiness, misplaced anger, annoying behaviors, and emotional hoo-hahs! Well, that’s my intention, anyway 🙂

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Five – Choices

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Five

Choices: Enlightened and Otherwise

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
— Viktor E. Frankl

The ability to choose ones’ attitude or perspective, I believe, is a learnable skill. A skill that especially comes in handy when facing adversity or challenges. The ability to choose depends on the awareness that we CAN choose … and REMEMBERING that we can choose … eventually resulting in a very practical habit!

Then, there are those choices like: surgery or radiation? Where to get treatment? When? Who to trust? These choices will affect my work, my marriage, my body, my life … so I want to, obviously, make the best ones possible. I am relying heavily of my meetings with the oncologist and surgeon at Dana-Farber in Boston later this month. Until then, despite all my research and generous input from others, I don’t have enough information about my cancer or the treatment options to make an enlightened choice. So for now, business as usual.

Easier choices are:

Optimistic and hopeful … or pessimistic and hopeless?

Grateful for all the good in my life … or cursing my rotten luck?

Worry and stress … or prepare, stay in the moment, skim duckweed from the pond?

Tell people about my cancer and get support … or keep to myself and stew in it?

I found out last week that I do have a family history of prostate cancer. This information was completely unexpected. I was never told. Would it have made a difference if I knew? Probably. At least, if I knew, I wouldn’t have tried to weasel out of getting the biopsy that, in retrospect, probably saved my life … or perhaps more accurately, greatly extended it. An excellent choice there – listening to my doctor’s advice!

By the way, regarding the current controversy advocating against PSA tests (screening for prostate cancer), I wholeheartedly disagree. On this Fathers’ Day, I say to all men of a certain age, “get the test.” Get the test and know your options. Disagree with my opinion? Two words: Frank Zappa.

I am grateful every day to my friends (and strangers) for their love and concern, and especially to my wife, Lynne, who is sharing the burden with grace, humor and attention to detail. Life is good!

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE Episode Four: The Waiting Game

MY CANCER ADVENTURE

Episode Four
The Waiting Game

We have our “second opinion” appointment scheduled at Dana-Farber for 6/28.
Interestingly, I have a history of dramatic life-changing events occurring
around this time of year, including the anniversary of my birth on 6/30.
Astrologers, take note.

Until then, there isn’t much else to do, other than research and reflection –
though, I am pretty much reaching my saturation point with the research. The
most probable outcome is surgery – the removal of my prostate, and the
non-pleasant “stuff” that goes with it. Nonetheless, the many prostate cancer
veterans who’ve spoken to me are reassuring. The consistent message I get is
“it will be OK.” I’m going with that.

Supportive friends and family are terrific! My wife, my partner in everything,
is the best! I repeat: when going though a challenging time, let your friends
and loved ones help you. Having a daily focus on gratitude is also very, very
practical.

I notice that I am experiencing a more “being in the moment” consciousness than
usual. For example, the ongoing chore of skimming duckweed from the surface of
our pond is an enjoyable meditation – it wasn’t always that way.

My intention is that this experience deepens me, increases my compassion.
Perhaps giving me a better and more realistic perspective on life, a newer sense
of “what’s really important to me now.”

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Three – “Don’t It Always Seem To Go …”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE

Episode Three
Don’t It Always Seem To Go …

Joni Mitchell wrote, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what
you’ve got ’till its gone …” Ain’t that the truth!

I mean, how often do you appreciate your glands? Thank your organs? Express
gratitude for your eyeballs?

The prostate cancer research continues. Getting “the second opinion” is the
priority. I don’t think we can make too many assumptions until then.

Thanks to my sister and her network of friends, we have a personal
recommendation of a specialist at Dana-Farber in Boston. Lynne was making the
arrangements via cell phone as we visited my parents in NJ yesterday. It was
somewhat surreal to be with my parents in the living room, waiting for the right
moment to break the news, as Lynne was in the bedroom working out logistics with
Dana-Farber. Both the visit with my parents and the scheduling of appointments
went smoother than expected.

It has become so very clear to me that my care and outcome depends on so many
people – some of them I know, most of them I don’t. That’s why research and
personal recommendations are so crucial, as we determine to the best of our
abilities … who to trust.

Much love