Rick Redner is a prostate cancer survivor and advocate for fighting the disease. In his new column “The Emotional, Relational & Sexual Side of Prostate Cancer,” Redner reveals the difficulty of receiving his diagnosis and his firsthand experiences with prostate cancer.
At age 58, I needed a prescription refill from my urologist. I was told it would be necessary for me to make an appointment for an examination before he could order a renewal. I’m not a fan of going see a doctor for any reason, especially when I’m feeling great, but I understood it was necessary if I wanted a refill.
When I arrived for my appointment, I discovered I wasn’t scheduled with the urologist I had seen for 30 years. I was with a urologist I’d never seen before. He asked, “What brings you here today?” I replied, “Doc this will be the easiest and quickest appointment of your day. Give me my prescription renewal and I’m out of here.”
He said, “I’d be glad to do that, after I examine your prostate.”
I realized these types of misunderstandings occur when you see a doctor who is unfamiliar with your medical history. I directed him to my medical records where he’d discover I had this rather unpleasant exam less than six months ago. Because this is a yearly exam, it was obvious to me — and I expected also obvious to him — that I certainly didn’t need another prostate exam.
I was ticked off that he didn’t bother to check my medical records. Instead, he looked me in the eyes and said, “No prostate exam, no refill.”
I was tempted to walk out and show him that I was a consumer. He worked for me. And I didn’t want another exam. But, because I needed my refill, I pulled down my pants and assumed the position. I was confident this exam was totally unnecessary. Little did I know I was seconds away from hearing two sentences that would change my life forever.
The first sentence was, “I felt a suspicious lump.” The second sentence was, “I’ll need to schedule you for a biopsy.”
I left the exam in a daze and I walked to the scheduling desk to make my appointment for my biopsy. I was told the earliest I could get in for a biopsy was a month away. I was scheduled to discuss the biopsy results two weeks later. The rapid transition from believing I was in the peak of health to receiving news that I could have a potentially life threatening disease, felt like a punch in the gut. I couldn’t catch my breath nor could I process my experience. It felt like I was in a bad dream. I wanted to wake up and start the day over.
As I pulled into my driveway at home, I was painfully aware that my wife Brenda was about to experience the awful transition that I had just experienced. Together, we were about to share one of the worst days of our married life. From that day until my biopsy, we’d be living with the terrifying reality that a biopsy would soon show that I had prostate cancer.
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