WARNING: THE FOLLOWING BLOG SHOULD BE READ ONLY IF YOU HAVE PROSTATE CANCER OR ARE CLOSE TO SOMEONE WHO DOES. IT IS HIGHLY PERSONAL, AT TIMES GRAPHIC, AND READING IT CAN BE EMBARRASSING, UPSETTING, DISTURBING, OR JUST PLAIN TOO-MUCH-INFORMATION.
After “Tube-out Day” I entered the next stage of my recovery from cancer. My Urologist told me I would now need to see him only once a month as I healed. My bladder and penis were still atrified from having had a catheter running through them and the muscles which control my urinary tract were weak from not being used for several weeks. I would keep forgetting to do my rectum clenching exercises, as to do it each hour on the hour was impossible to remember. The adult diapers were now reduced to a simple pad, which was easily concealed and comfortable. A sneeze, cough, would cause my muscles to relax and a small stream of urine would be released into the pad. I could tell how much progress I was making based on how soggy the pad was at the end of the day. I went from three pads a day, to two pads, to one pad a day. I could tell my muscle-control was improved greatly when I didn’t need to change the pad after a full day. I changed it anyway because even before my surgery I wouldn’t wear the same underwear for longer than a day. After many weeks of recovery, finally one day, I “forgot” to wear my pad. It wasn’t until the middle of the day that I realized that I had forgotten. That was my “pad-free” liberation day.
As I went to my Urologist for my monthly visits, the news got better and better. Subsequent blood tests indicated a zero measurement for the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) meaning there was absolutely no sign of the prostate cancer anymore. The test is still necessary because there may still be parts of my prostate remaining. Looking closely at the anatomy of the urinary system you can see that the prostate was at the base of the bladder, attached to it, and the uretha, which is the tubule that drains the bladder into the penis runs through it. The surgeons had to cut-away the prostate, without severing this tubule. Hearing I had a zero PSA was a happy experience. Now my physician, Dr. Vincent, warned me that she wanted me to have a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer, even though I had just had one last year. This seemed totally logical. Since we had found cancer in my prostate, it was smart to check the colon. My colon specialist, Dr. Yu, advised me two wait 100 days after my surgery before having the colonoscopy.
On June 7th, 2011, I checked into the Laguna Hills Surgical Center for my colonoscopy. This is a procedure adults past their 50th birthday should have every two years or so. What they do is have you on a restricted diet for a few days in which you avoid solid food, red meats, or foods that have red-coloring, have a liquid diet for one day, and then you drink a mixture that cleans out your colon, followed by a Fleet enema. This is all to clean out your lower intestines so that the doctor can insert a small camera and surgical device into your anus and using a color video screen examine the internal walls of your intestine, looking for polyps (bud-like growths), or other aberations in the intestinal walls. This amazingly goes through the lower, ascending, transverse, and decending colons. The robotic device they use is such that, the moment they locate a polyp, they can actually surgically remove it, and capture it for biopsy later. This examination once every two years is a way to catch colon cancer before it can get serious.
I felt that old feeling of turning my life over to surgeons again. I put all of my clothing, and possessions into a large plastic bag. (They tell you not to come with any watches, jewelry, and to not wear any contact lenses.) I put on that backless hospital gown, and asked to urinate one more time before entering the waiting area. The waiting area is a series of beds on wheeled-gurneys. They are separated by cubical curtains, and a team of nurses attend to the group of us. There are around eight other people in the room waiting for surgery, or examinations. The nurse inserted a intravenous catheter into my right arm. She said she had difficulty finding a vein because I was dehydrated. (I could not drink any water since waking up.) She couldn’t put it in the back of my hand, so she put it in the inside of my arm. She hooked up a bad of medication to my IV and said to wait for a while. Laying on my back, feeling a little woozy, I listened to the chatter of the nurses around me, and the other patients. Some family members are even there to see family members off. Across from me is a middle-aged woman, being visited by her husband, son, and daughter. The emotional state of the family leads me to believe she is going in for some serious operation, and they want to be there in case she dies. She is being brave, and I am amused I am witnessing all of this drama through the gap in my cubicle curtain. To my right was an elderly Mexican woman, who was being comforted by another elderly Mexican woman. That woman kept peeking in on me. She would walk by the opening of my cubicle curtain and stare at me and then walk by. She did this around four times. It made me wonder if she thought she knew me. A young, attractive Asian woman entered the waiting area. She went through the procedure of divesting herself of all of her worldly possessions in the private room and was led to her gurney by a nurse. Rather than staying in her bed, she got up, with her IV tree and was guided back to bathroom to use the facilities one more time. As she passes, I get a full view of her back and shapely backside as her gown is not tied close. Wow, a peep show for me! I turn away, as if she might catch me sneaking a peek. (smile) She was very attractive, and I am now amused that this waiting area is co-ed. Finally my turn is up, and they wheel me into the examination room. there room is crowded, and I am instructed to roll onto my right side. The anesthesiologist administers the drugs, and I fade away rapidly. In previous examinations I was
conscious, and they would wake me up when they found a polyp and have me look at it on the viewing screen. This time they didn’t bother. When I awoke, I was asked to dress, and go and meet with the doctor before I leave. This surprised me, because the last two times I had to schedule an appointment days later. I was handed a folder. Opening it I saw vivid color photographs of the insides of my colon at varying points. Next to each photo is a medical description of what they found, and what procedure was performed. Sitting down with my doctor, he briefed me on what had happened. Dr. Yu told me that they had found and removed nine (9) polyps and found some reticulitis (inflamations) in my intestine. The polyps were all benign, and the reticulitis were not requiring any attention. He told me everything was fine, and that I wouldn’t need another colonoscopy for two years. I was shocked that they knew all of this instantly, that same day! This was great news. No signs of colon cancer! Although I was disturbed by the increased number of polyps and reticulitis, I was relieved that my fears of the prostate cancer spreading to my colon were now dismissed. I AM OFFICIALLY CANCER-FREE!!!
This is not the end of my adventure. There is always the chance of remission. Having had cancer and being cured taught me some important lessons:
1. We always have cancer. There are cancer cells in everyone! Our immune system of white blood cells kills the cancer cells as a natural part of our bodies’ defense mechanisms.
2. Cancer becomes dangerous or terminal when you do not take care of your body. You take care of your body by eliminating any chemicals or minerals, and decreasing the intake of foods which promote cancerous tissue growth:
a. Nicotine and tobacco products. (Cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco)
b. Excessive intake of alcohol. (Beer, wine, hard liquor, sugar-less chocolates)
c. Processed sugars. (Candy, soft drinks, desserts)
d. Processed and enriched flour products. (Cake, bread, crackers, snack foods)
e. Artificial sweeteners (Aspartame=NutraSweet & Equal, Saccharin=Sweet’N Low, Sucralose=Splenda, etc.)
f. Excessive intake of foods which elevate the acidity of your blood pH. (This is a long list of popular foods, meats, grains, dairy, etc.)
3. You can kill cancer by eating fresh, uncooked vegetables, fruits, and nuts which infuse your body with the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, that your body needs to have the strength to fight all diseases.
4. You can kill cancer by eating foods which decrease the acidity pH of your blood and make it more alkaline. (This is a long list healthy, fresh foods, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and minerals).
5. It is your mental attitude which also keeps you healthy. Relieve yourself of stress, worry, fear, frustration, upsets, and anger, and create a life of love, friendship, happiness, joy, confidence, celebration, and contribution. Don’t keep it to yourself. Share what you are dealing with, with others, friends, family, even co-workers.
6. Stay active. Find some activity which you love to do, and do this exercise regularly. (Walking, running, dancing, swimming, gardening, playing sports, etc.)
7. Get out into Nature. Let your feet feel the grass, do gardening, play with your pets, gaze at the clouds, feel the wind in your face, and enjoy all of the gifts that the world offers.
This adventure is not over. I have learned a lot from this experience, and have become kind of an expert on prostate cancer, and fighting cancer. In fact, I get phone calls from people who are dealing with cancer. Some people who have read my blogs said they have been very helpful in their education and their fight against cancer. For decades I dreaded the idea of getting cancer. I have heard people hoping how someday we would find a cure for cancer. What I found out is that there are more cures for cancer that you can shake a stick at! Pick the cure you believe in, and practice it religiously, and give it all you have to give! Cancer is not what kills people. Their own cynicism and their own resignation is what kills people. Give it your all!!! Live long, and prosper!