Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rule #1 Get informed

   The Doctor just told you that your biopsy results came back positive. You have Prostate Cancer. Now you have to ask yourself, What does that mean?
  I was told by more than a few people after diagnosis that "at least I got the good cancer". The good cancer??? Wth.
   Okay, in some cases they might be right. Although I don't believe any cancer is "Good Cancer,"Looking back, I would much rather have this diagnosis than a diagnosis of lung cancer or colon cancer. 
   Prostate cancer is a different animal. It really seems as though no two cases are the same. For this reason there is a lot of controversy about treating the disease or if even the disease should be treated at all.  There are so many different facets that must be considered before choosing a treatment plan that getting informed is the first rule to follow when formulating any treatment plan.
  Like most men, I learned most of what I know on the fly. I really had no choice. If I were a woman diagnosed with breast cancer there would've been a clear roadmap regarding prognosis and treatment. This is because women in general tend to be more proactive and vocal about breast cancer. 
   In the 10 years since my diagnosis there have been many advances in the treatment of prostate cancer. The roadmap I followed on my journey might look quite different today. Changes in the American healthcare system present their own unique obstacles to navigate. These changes have made self-advocation all the more pertinent in cancer diagnosis and treatment. You cannot arm yourself with enough information. 
   Currently there is a general consensus that screening for prostate cancer should not be done. This adds more confusion to the mix. 
   In the small pond where I swim I am a big fish. Needless to say it is a small pond. Small or not I have met 3 men in the last couple weeks who were recently diagnosed stage 4 PCa. That really is the problem with not screening for prostate cancer. More men will be diagnosed late stage. In many ways I feel it is a step backwards. I do get it though, too many men over react to the word cancer and men who might never have to worry about their prostate cancer are having a prostates ripped out and putting up with terrible side effects that might never have been necessary.
   The bottom line is this. Educate yourself. Learn everything you can about treatments and side effects. Find the best surgeons find the best oncologist find the best urologists and formulate a plan. Science is turned prostate cancer into a chronic disease but there still men dying.