Sunday, March 14, 2010

OMG! I really do have prostate cancer - Its real, not a nightmare!

I loved watching the series Battlestar Galactica. I loved the story and the characters. However, the best thing they did was provide us an expressive word that can be used in place of the often-used F-word in English. Since I don't want to use a word that offends anyone, I am going to use the word that was used over and over again in that series...


It has been said to me before and I have heard it...but today I had one of the leading experts in the entire USA on prostate cancer look me straight in the eye and tell me that I not only have prostate cancer....I have a dangerous form of it, too. FRACK! OMG! My heart leapt once again up into my throat. My heart started racing.

Also, up until now, a DRE did not detect any nodules on the prostate. He found one there today. It is starting to move out. Wow. I really am in danger. More so than I thought. It was like being in one of those lucid dreaming experiences where terrible things are being said or done to you and there is nothing you can do to stop it and you can't wake up from it. I feels like I have been locked in a room with a hungry tiger...and there is no way out. I feel ok at the moment...but there is something in front of me that is going to frack me up big time unless I do exactly the right thing.

The good news is, that this MD's assessment was essentially the same as the first one. I am too big physically to have a successful radical prostatectomy. So the consensus is, at this point, to start hormonal treatment that will last at least a year and then two months into the process, start external proton beam radiation treatments that will last five days a week for about 9 weeks. Both doctors are wanting me to go to an radio-oncologist for assessment and more information about the treatment needed.

As I was sitting there hearing this assessment, the music and words to a song by Pink Floyd kept going through my mind. As he was talking to me, it was as though the words and music of this song were playing in the background:

Comfortably Numb

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?

Come on, Come on, Come on, now,
I hear you're feeling down.
Well, I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.

I'll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child I had a FEVER
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

O.K. Just a little pin prick.
There'll be no more aaaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working, good.
That'll keep you going through the show
Come on it's time to go.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Do not be concerned about the meaning of the lyrics. It is generally about a person who is confronted with a terrible situation that affects his overall health and well-being...and how detached he can be from it. The sense of being "numb" is very real...especially when it sinks into your head that you have a disease that wants to kill you. A sense of retreat or numbness is protect me from the harshness and the fear of where you find myself. Besides, when I listen to that song by my favorite guitarist of all time, David Gilmour, who flies into a soaring, expressive guitar solo that is raw with emotion, I feel somewhat protected from the terror of the world of cancer.

This is no surprise for me. Music has been the place that I have retreated all my life to find solace and expression. The music I listen to often expresses the emotions I feel in a cathartic way that I cannot express on my own. It can be classic rock music like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rolling Stones or The Who. It can be classical choral music like Handel's Messiah, Haydn's "Te Deum Laudamus" or Gounod's "Sanctus". It can be the first movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony that was written by a deaf man that hated sopranos and tenors. It can be folk music, like the Kingston Trio singing "Tom Dooley" or "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?". Or it could be Bob Dylan creaking out a nasal "Blowin' in the Wind" with a beat up guitar and harmonica. Occasionally, there is a hymn that touches me like that...but not as much as they used to. (Its kind of hard to sing about Amazing Grace when you have just found out how much cancer you have.)

I don't want to be numb anymore. I want to keep living as long as possible. In order for me to live well, I have to go through a tough time. I have some inkling what it will be like...but I don't really. How can you anticipate that? I know things are not hopeless. Today, cancer is not a death sentence...but there are moments when it feels like one. Thankfully, those moments are getting fewer in frequency!

The person that I was before cancer is dead and gone. I am something/someone else now. I am motivated to change, but terrified of failure. At the same time, I know that failure is not an option. I see a huge mountain in front of me that I cannot go around. I have to go over it. Standing there on my own, it looks impossible. I am exhausted already just looking at it and thinking of it. I have family and friends that are there with me...but regardless of that I am the one that has to go over that mountain. Somehow. My faith and sense of humor will get me through it with all of the support I am receiving.

Thanks for listening yall. It just helps to talk this out.



  1. Take 2:

    Richard, Of course none of us can go over that mountain with you but try and imagine us all standing around the base of that mountain, cheering, praying, holding hands and sending all our collective good up to support you.

    You are in our prayers.

  2. Courage, dear friend, is not being brave. Courage is living each day as you can, dealing with as much as you can, and change all you can change. Courage is telling us you have prostate cancer. Courage is having to tell your children and comfort them. Courage is letting people help you. Courage is faith where faith is a scary thing. Courage is many things you will co soon. Courage is not playing tough guy. Courage is not isolation.

    Courage is not a hero's province. Courage is a nomal human's thing. Your thing.


  3. That is really sweet, Paula. Thank you.

  4. Bro, praying and praying. The room with a tiger, hmm, sounds biblical...let's see who else was in a den with lions? You're not alone. You have a "second" or "fourth" man (when the three were thrown in the fire - also from Daniel).