Receiving the news I needed a biopsy was the first time in my life that I had to deal with the possibility I had a life-threatening disease. For a doctor, telling someone they need a biopsy is a regular occurrence. For the patient receiving that news, it’s both traumatic and life changing.
When you receive the news you need a biopsy, it’s highly unlikely the medical system will acknowledge or address the emotional needs of the person receiving this news. I was totally unprepared to cope with the possibility I had prostate cancer. I left the doctor’s office in a daze. I couldn’t believe it was possible to have a potentially life-threatening disease, without any symptoms or warning.
On my first night, my imagination turned against me. I spent a good deal of my sleepless hours reliving how everyone I knew who was diagnosed with cancer had died. I had a host of people to remember, both personally and professionally. As a medical social worker, I witnessed people die from cancer in a hospital setting. Most of these deaths occurred before the hospice movement. In pre-hospice days, most doctors would not provide adequate pain control. In those days, the primary medical objective was to avoid creating drug dependency, rather than eliminate pain.
I suspect that’s the reason every cancer death I could recall involved people who suffered a great deal before they died. I replayed their suffering multiple times. After wallowing in those gruesome images, I inserted myself into the story. I imagined it wouldn’t be long before I’d be one of those people in chronic pain, dying from prostate cancer.
Unfortunately, most of the people I knew who’d been diagnosed with cancer had died within a year of receiving their diagnosis. From my perspective, a diagnosis of prostate cancer was the equivalent of a death sentence. So I began to imagine everything I’d miss out on. Three of the most painful losses I experienced that night were:
Not living long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle
Not living long enough to be a grandparent
Not living long enough to enjoy retirement with my wife
I was convinced I’d die before any of these events occurred. By the time morning arrived, I was convinced my survival depended on my receiving a rapid diagnosis and treatment. I believed the only way to delay dying from prostate cancer depended on my ability to find a urologist who could get me in for a biopsy in less than 30 days. Even if it meant I’d need to travel to another city. I would have flown to the moon, if necessary, to cut down on my waiting time. Convinced my life depended on receiving a diagnosis and treatment as quickly as possible, I began the task of finding a urologist who would perform my biopsy in less than 30 days.
I’d entered into a race against time to diagnose and treat a silent enemy capable of killing me.
Note: Prostate Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Prostate Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Prostate Cancer.