Recently I began following a Facebook page started by a 35-year-old man who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.  I think much of it intended to be an information sharing venue, a place where those affected could learn of the latest and greatest as well as different approaches taken by others.  Of late, in particular, it seems to have become more of a support group venue, a place where many post their experiences while expressing feelings of their plight.  Not surprisingly, there are a lot of comments around the “battle” and “I’m going to fight like hell” and so on.  There are those who get mad, others sad and many other things in-between.  Again, while not surprising, it is interesting how so many share these reactions – scared, mad and so on. 

I continue to feel very weird in this respect, never felt threatened by my diagnosis, even given its dire prospects – Gleason of 5+4, 11 of 12 cores positive, high velocity, PSA doubling every 3-4 months.  To me, it just seemed like another thing in my life, something to deal with and from which to move on. Perhaps it would have been different had I not been in the throes of an acrimonious divorce, hard to say.  In my view, my most significant challenge came with dealing with friends and family, all who seemed to take it harder than I, who tried to make it a central focus whenever we spoke.  The whole of that seemed taxing to me since I did my best to avoid it becoming central to my life. Even now, after 5 years of on and off again treatments and with my PSA once again on the rise, I find myself being constrained by those around me.To me, the cancer was always secondary to the things going on in my life. 

As I’ve previously written, some may found my idea of a pool warped, but those I know where I get treated didn’t, the mere suggestion of having a pool to predict my quarterly PSA was taken by some as the equivalent of committing a capital crime given the reactions.  My doctors all saw the humor and ironically, if it ever had gotten off the ground, me, with all my data and use of the different tools to monitor velocity and things, would have been the furthest off with the last measure.

With September recently passed, which, by the way is prostate cancer awareness month, and October here, which is breast cancer awareness month, I see a large number of posts about cancer and cancer related things.  There are those who have had cancer, those who have had people in their lives who had cancer and then those who are generally untouched.  The common thread here is that nearly everyone, almost to a person, sees a cancer diagnosis as the equivalent of an epic battle.  Comments such as “you need to fight” and “never give up” all seem to suggest the worst.  They also seem to suggest that the epic battle must become the central focus, that we apply every ounce of energy to fighting off this demon and winning the war.  While I recognize the sentiment, I see this as a bit of overkill.  I see it as opening another door for cancer to impact the lives of those affected.

I guess the point I make here is that no matter what the diagnosis, no matter how high risk your specific situation, no matter what the speculation of life span, endeavor to retain your life, never let cancer become central to your being because if you let that happen, if you become cancer and cancer may not only take your biological life, it will take the life you live and that would be the real tragedy because in a sense, it’s another win in its column.

Happy reading and happy trails.

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Life’s Abstractions