September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. I guess every disease has gotta have its month. I think of it more as a day to day disease. But that is just me.
I thought about talking about the statistics of this disease such as a man dies every 18 minutes in the United States from prostate cancer. That it is the most common diagnosed cancer in men and the second biggest killer.
I thought about writing about the pros and cons of having a PSA test and at what age. That is a question constantly being debated. The medical community really has not come to a consensus. It is a discussion you definitely need to have with your doctor around the age of 50 and possibly tested then or at least by the age of 55. Now if you have a family history that is a different story. Testing then should be much sooner.
I guess that I should put in here that I am not a doctor. You should seek competent medical advice. Good luck finding that.
The above topics need to be discussed. Just not by me. They are boring and you can read all about prostate cancer on the internet. I have. Just stick to legitimate web sites. Of course if you want alternative treatments they are out there. One person told me that I need to drink hydrogen peroxide. Excuse me, I think not. For now I will stick to the regular stuff that kills you. Bartender, give me a tall glass of chemo along with a shot of Lupron please.
So what do I want to talk about? Well me of course. I like talking about me. So here we go.
Eisenhower was president and he wanted to conduct a new census so my parents made the journey to their homeland in Mexico. No, no, no I was not born in a barn but rather in Audrain County Hospital in Mexico, MO. I do not know anything about a census going on just thought I would throw that in there. Eisenhower was president when I was born. I like Ike.
I do get a lot of mileage about telling people here in the Land of Oz that I was born in Mexico. I even show them by green Barnes & Noble Card. I do get around to telling them Mexico, MO. Many people around here think I am Hispanic. I have been in so many homes where the people will look at me and start talking to me in Spanish. They eventually figure it out.
So why did I just waste valuable space and talk about really nothing related to cancer? I am stalling I guess. You see what I am going to share with you is very personal and hurts. I will talk about my family and some of you know them. More specifically I am going to talk about my father.
One thing you need to know about prostate cancer is that it is one of those hereditary cancers. Most men who get the disease do not have a family history, but if you have a close family member who has the disease then your risk of getting the cancer is greater than someone without a family history. The more family members with the disease, then the higher the risk you have of getting the disease.
If you have a family history you need to start getting tested at age 40.
African Americans suffer from this disease at a higher rate than white males. Men of color should be checked at age 40 even without a family history of the disease. Please talk to your doctor.
When I started this blog in a way I knew that I would be opening up myself to family, friends, and strangers. That is something I was not sure I could do. It has been easier than I thought, and most of the time I feel better after writing. In writing you do not have that personal interaction that makes you think twice about what you are going to say. So most of the time I just say what I think and feel, and of course try to throw in a little humor from time to time. I need to laugh. I am not sure there will be much more laughing during this conversation. I will try.
I do feel like I am actually talking to you and not writing. Funny isn’t it. Of course I picture you on the couch in your lingerie while we have this discussion. Hey this is my blog and I can have those fantasies. I have that visual because most of my readers are women. Or at least it seems that way since I am most often contacted by women who have read the posts. Some of the people who have contacted me are going through cancer themselves or they have a loved one who is dealing with cancer or they have lost someone to cancer. I hate cancer! They are kind and tell me that I have helped them. That makes me happy.
Some people contact me by email after the essays, and others comment on the Facebook link. I am going to ask that you do not comment on this essay. Just read. I think that you will understand why I ask that as we talk.
Years ago I was visiting my grandfather at his residence in Columbia. My grandparents had moved there after selling the farm near Mexico to be closer to quality medical care.
On this visit my grandfather started giving me things. He started giving me household items like he no longer needed them. I did not understand why he was doing that. I did not need or want these things. He did give me some old pictures of when I was growing up and spending time on the farm. I do love those.
During this visit he said out of the blue that he would not give five cents for his life on this earth. He hoped that Heaven would be better.
I did not understood what he meant by that or why he was saying that. In my mind he had a good life. I did not ask questions. Things were getting weird and I just wanted to leave.
I want to take a short time out from this cancer talk for just a moment to comment on my grandfather’s farm. I want the people to know who live there now that I get sick every time I drive by and see what has happened to the property. If you do not clean up that place and put some paint on the house that my grandfather built I will one day stop and pull up into that long drive. When I get out of my car I am going to bitch slap somebody. You have been warned. Thank you for letting me vent. I feel better.
Now I want to get back to my grandfather. That day that he got all weird on me was the last time I ever saw him. He died a few months later. He looked good when I saw him. I suspect he knew that we might not see each other again. That I believe was why he was acting the way he was. That is why he said what he said. I did not even find out that he had died until several months after his death. My father never told me.
I learned that he had cancer. I do not know if that was what killed him or not. I did not know what type of cancer he had. My father never talked to me about my grandfather’s illness. Hell we rarely ever talked.
Now I need to explain a little about my father. If I told you that we were not close that would be a major understatement. I would say that we did not like one another. He was not what I would call a good person. I will explain, but I do not want to turn this into a bash dad essay. It might turn into that.
I grew up in a violent home. My father was a physically abusive person. Not every day, but when it happened, it happened big. You walked on egg shells trying not to piss him off. When he drank it was much worse.
When I was a child he was either hitting on me, my brother, or mother, but as I got older I was hit less often. At times I could stop my mom and brother from getting hit. I did not like the man as a person or as a father. I did learn a little about being a father from him. I have asked myself what my dad would do in situations I found myself needing to handle. Once I answer that question I just do the opposite. It has served me well.
I moved out in August of 1978 to go to college. I never lived with my parents again. My brother told me that things got worse after I moved out. They eventually divorced. Thank God.
You wonder why am I telling you all this. I really do not know. I guess my therapy. I wish I had a relationship with my father. I wish he was different. I have so envied friends who have good relationships with their fathers. I never could pick up the phone and talk to him and tell him about the kids or seek his advice.
I guess I am telling you this because of what I am going to tell you now. It is kind of like background information for the finale.
In February of 2012 I got a call from my mother that dad was dying. He had cancer and he did not have much time left, and if I wanted to see him before he died I needed to get there. I was not sure I wanted to go. I decided to go because I had things that needed to be said.
When I arrived he was in a drug induced comma due to the pain from his cancer. He could not talk and if I had been told that I probably would not have gone. Since I was there I decided that what I needed to say was still going to be said. Not sure in his comatose state that he understood anything I was saying, but he might have.
So I sat in a chair next to his bed and talked to him. I am sure I said some mean things. I am also sure that I told him that I wished things were different. It hit me hard that we would never be able to reconcile our relationship. That made me sad. It hit me that I loved him. I told him that. I am sure we had some good times. I just cannot remember them.
All food and water had been taken from him. He was going to die soon, but I was told that he could linger for days. The next day I left. When I got home I got word that he had died.
Cancer most likely killed my grandfather years earlier. I did not know what kind of cancer. Cancer killed my father, but I really did not know what type of cancer.
My father had chemo and his white and red cells were all messed up. His mother my grandmother had died from leukemia. I thought that he also must have had a blood cancer of some type. No one told me different. His third wife did not tell me. This was the first time I met her. I never met his second wife.
A few years before my dad died I started having symptoms of cancer. It was 2009, but I did not realize that what was happening was cancer. I did not know nor did my doctor think that I had cancer. When I told my primary care doctor of my problems he gave me pills. That little blue pill and it worked wonders. I was happy. But as a man in his late 40’s should I really need that medicine? Were we treating symptoms of a disease that we had not identified?
When I was in my late thirties I had my first spinal fusion surgery. I had a herniated disc in my upper back/neck area that was fused. I was told that I had degenerative disc disease. I was told that in the future I would need more surgeries.
My neck started acting up again, and I was able to control the pain with shots. I had a pain management doctor and for years I was given epidural steroid injections. Eventually they stopped working and surgery became my only option.
During this time I was also experience some urination problems. Since I was seeing doctors all the time I decided to bring up my problem. I again had a talk with my GP and more medicine was given. He asked me if I had a history of prostate cancer in my family. I told him not that I knew. He told me that I was too young for prostate cancer, and I did not have all the symptoms. I was not tested.
If you research the symptoms for prostate cancer I had most of them, but because of my age and no family history I was not tested. People my age he seemed to think did not get prostate cancer. Boy was he wrong.
I thought about all this and realized that I really did not know what kind of cancer my grandfather or my father had. I started doing some checking and asking questions. What I learned was that they both had prostate cancer.
When I was back to see my doctor I let his PA know about my family history of prostate cancer. I was tested right then. The PSA was high and my PC doctor told me that with that number I had cancer. He sent me to see an urologist Dr. Richard Little. I think I have talked about Dick before.
When I first met Dick he did not think I needed surgery. We could watch and wait. I was also trying to avoid neck surgery.
I was able to put them both off for a year. The pain in my neck and back finally got so bad that something had to be done.
Also my PSA numbers had a dramatic increase in a short time. I could no longer avoid surgery. When I got a second opinion I learned that the cancer threat was much greater than we had thought. Damn Dick.
So I had neck surgery in August of 2016. They fused C4, C5, C6, and C7. Two titanium plates were placed in my neck and I am not sure how many screws. Neck and back are much better now. Have lost range of motion, but who cares.
So after my neck surgery in August I had cancer surgery in December of 2016. That started the process we are currently trying to deal with. How long will this go on? Who knows?
When I am sitting by myself and I am trying to figure things out I realize that what has happened to me did not have to happen. No it did not. That brings us to the title of this essay and the million dollar question. Why?
I realize that men from my father’s and grandfather’s generation did not talk about their problems. They want to keep things private. I would imagine that many families have relatives that have medical conditions that they really do not understand, because the person with the problem does not want to talk about it.
Men tend to suffer in silence. They do not want to talk about prostate cancer. They do not want to tell people they have prostate cancer. They do not want to talk about what the disease has done to them.
Even knowing that I do think that most men would tell their children, “Hey get checked.”
Why didn’t my dad tell me that he had prostate cancer? Why did he not tell me to get checked?
The disease is hereditary. You can get it without a family history of the disease, but if you have a history you are more likely to get it. I am sure my dad had the disease for several years before he died.
If I had been told earlier, like when my father suspected that he had the disease or even when my grandfather died, to get checked then my disease, I feel, would have been found at stage I or stage II. I could have been cured. I would have been cured. Why?
It is hard for me to accept that my father kept information from me that would have dramatically change things. Again, what I am going through did not have to be.
Christy wants to think that maybe he did not understand how important it was for my brother and I to know about his disease. I do not believe that for a minute. His father had the disease. He knew.
I learned that he had commented before he was diagnosed that he knew from his symptoms and from his father’s experience that he had the cancer. He waited too long to be checked.
I do know that the history of prostate cancer killing men in my family will end. I will not allow this to happen to my son.
He will be checked at age 40. A baseline PSA will be determined and his numbers will be checked every year. If or when the disease hits him he will be ready. This will not take his life.
What my father has done to me by withholding that information is unforgivable. But I have had to move on. Hate will consume you and destroy you. You have to let it go.
I have accepted what has happened. I have not accepted what is going to happen.
I cannot let what has happened consume me. I cannot worry about the future. I have to live in this moment and make it the best that I can.
I was going to get this disease. That most likely could not have been prevented. It was in my genes. What could have been prevented would have been the severity of my disease once it was identified and diagnosed. If I had been anticipating it, and looking for it we would have found it much sooner. I would not be in my current situation. This did not have to happen.
I am finishing this essay on Friday night the 14th. Earlier today I had a discussion over the phone with a nurse from Dr. U’s office. She had the results from my latest tests. This week was the start of my once again every three months appointments with Dr. U and Dr. O. I see Dr. U next week.
She gave me the numbers. They were not good. I guess they could have been worse. You see I am looking for the positive.
Since I am off drugs these test results were going to be very important to me. If your PSA number doubles in three months or less that is very bad. I understand that is a sign that you have metastatic disease, and that it is spreading.
It has been three months since my last test. My PSA has gone up six fold in those three months.
Ruh-roh Kev. Yes Winston that is not good.
I feel as though my father gave me a death sentence. Each treatment protocol I try is like a temporary stay of execution. I live with the fear that my executioner will have his day.
If there is an afterlife and I again see my father I would like one question answered:
Kevin, your blogs are amazing. Your writing is mesmerizing. I could read forever. I never want them to end. You and Christy are always in my thoughts.
Thank you Susan.