MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Nine – “Surgery/Recovery”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Nine
“Surgery/Recovery”

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
— Martha Washington (1732 – 1802)

Lynne and I left Sheffield early on Wednesday, July 18 for my pre-op meeting and exam at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Due to rush hour traffic, and my bad parking decision, we were 30 minutes late. But when we checked in, instead of judgment for our tardiness, we were pleasantly greeted, as we experienced the first in an ongoing series of absolutely exemplary “customer service” experiences. Kindness and comfort were liberally offered by each and every person who served us.

This service standard, while not universally practiced — should be!

My intention was to be an excellent patient – not a passive pushover, but to behave as pleasantly, cheerfully and appreciative as possible under the circumstances. I strongly believed that this approach would impact EVERYTHING for the better … and I am quite sure that I was correct.

After the exam, Lynne and I drove to the Holiday Inn on Beacon Street, Brookline, hoping for early check-in. We were in luck.

Walking to Cooledge Corner, we had a lovely lunch followed by a movie at the Cooledge Corner Theater. We liked the movie (Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love ) but we LOVED the beautiful art-deco theater. Then, back to the hotel to rest for a couple of hours and another light meal at a nearby Japanese restaurant. I enjoyed the last day with my prostate gland and hopefully, my last day with cancer.

Up ridiculously early on Thursday, July 19, for a cab ride to the hospital, 5:30 check-in. My name was called, we signed some papers, and off we went to pre-op. As I was being prepped, we met with a series of nurses, anesthesiologists, and a representative of my surgeon, Dr. Jerome Richie. I can’t overstate how friendly and helpful each and everyone was. I was in a pretty good mood, partially due to the drugs … partially by choice. I actually had fun talking and joking with my caregivers. Lynne was right by my side, which was the primary reason for my feelings of peace and security.

When the time came, I said goodbye to Lynne, and was wheeled to the OR (which was really chilly … but I didn’t care, I was delightfully sedated). A little small talk with the OR personnel, and I was out.

The next thing I remember was being in recovery, Lynne was there … and my prostate wasn’t. I was feeling no pain. Eventually I was brought to my room – a beautiful, large PRIVATE room! A huge stroke of luck.

I’ll spare you the details of the next few days. Suffice it to say that the surgery was successful, one bundle of nerves was spared and my chances of being cancer-free are very, very favorable. And, I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Brigham and Women’s and Dr. Jerome Richie. We made excellent choices.

Now it is July 30, and I am recovering nicely. I’m walking, drinking lots of water and doing those Kegel exercises. I am feeling mostly OK – the “worst” is clearly over. I’m planning on giving my first post-surgery lecture on August 7.

A daily focus on gratitude and appreciation is extremely helpful, especially so when dealing with adversity and challenges. So, despite the numerous discomforts and inconveniences … we caught the cancer early enough, which is something to feel grateful about every day.

I am most thankful for the love and support from my many friends and colleagues. The biggest thanks is to my wife Lynne, for sharing the experience … doing all the work … and for loving me! I am fortunate!

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Eight – “What’s Really Important To Me Now?”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Eight
“What’s Really Important To Me Now?”

For more than 20 years, I’ve handed out little cards to workshop attendees with sayings and reminders to reinforce ideas worth remembering, and acting upon. A favorite one reads: WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME NOW?

Of course, that’s an excellent question to regularly ponder. Such a useful exercise, especially when facing adversity or challenges. Imagine if you asked yourself this question (and answered it) EVERY day! So simple, yet so powerful!

And so, with my prostate cancer surgery two days away, I answer …

It is really important to be an excellent patient, and all that goes with it.
(I want to make it as easy as possible for my caregivers.)

It is really important to feel and express gratitude – many, many reasons to do so.
(I’m keeping a gratitude journal – very helpful. More gratitude – less stress!)

It is really important to keep my sense of humor – the best medicine, I’ve heard.

It is really important to have as much fun as possible. Yes. Have some fun!
(Inspired by Randy Pausch – “The Last Lecture.”)

Also …

It is really important to accept the love and support of family and friends.
It is really important to have made the treatment decisions we’re comfortable with.
It is really important to maintain a positive, hopeful, optimistic outlook.
It is really important to have a good idea of what to expect.

It is really important to be prepared.

When I remind myself of these things, I greatly increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. And, I decrease the likelihood of self-pity and petty complaints.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have my wife who will be taking care of me. Recovery is going to be, at the very least, hugely inconvenient. I am quite sure that Lynne’s job will be harder than mine, so I’m extra grateful to her. And it is really important to me to recognize this, regularly express my love and gratitude … and strive to keep crankiness to a minimum!

Onward … into the unknown!

The next installment of this blog will be post-surgery. I’ll have some answers, and some groovy pharmaceuticals, I’m sure!

Thank you, and much love to you!

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Seven – “Countdown”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Seven
“Countdown”

One week to go, and I’m feeling fine about it. Not scared. Not worried. Not nervous.

Lynne and I did our research and we are well prepared. We are confident in our choice of treatment (prostatectomy), the hospital (Brigham and Women’s) and the surgeon (Dr. Jerome Richie).

The support from friends and colleagues is heartwarming. That’s an understatement. More like overwhelming. And SO much input from cancer survivors and their families. I have heard MANY stories of favorable outcomes, so I might as well expect a favorable outcome, too! That is certainly my choice, and my attitude.

The odds are clearly in my favor to be cancer-free and for a reasonably speedy recovery. Sure, I know there will be some short-term inconvenience (ha!) and I’m not happy about missing work … but I am SO grateful that we caught it early.

Again, I say to my brothers … get the PSA test!

Practicing a continual “attitude of gratitude” is just so practical. It helps with balance and perspective, and makes EVERYTHING better. Everything. Whether you’re going through some adversity … or business as usual … practice the practical power of gratitude! Feel it and express it.

At this time, I’d like to express my sincere thanks to my prostate for many years of excellent service! That goes for all my other organs as well. Thanks! I do appreciate your contributions! And to my wife (especially) … family … friends … colleagues … clients … our dogs … a great big THANK YOU! I am living in a bubble of appreciation!

And speaking of our canines … Last week Ruby was diagnosed with a malignant tumor near her tail. A strange coincidence to be sure! She had surgery, and thankfully, is doing great! A fine example and role model of resilience.

Life is good. We are fortunate!

Much love.