My PC Adventure – PART 24:
Cliche is true – cancer makes you re-evaluate
April 13, 2010
A year ago, I lay in bed at home in the mornings and stared out the window at blue skies, wishing I could be under them.
I’m looking through a different sort of bedroom window as I write this – the window of the campervan, and we’re parked beside Orewa Beach, north of Auckland.
Pohutukawa boughs frame a view beyond green and straw-coloured kikuyu and marram grass, out to the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsular, Tiritiri Matangi Island and the hill tips of Great Barrier Island popping up into the horizon of the Hauraki Gulf.
It’s a year post-prostatectomy.
We’re on holiday for a few weeks, and this April there is the same Indian summer weather, but no catheter, no bright new scar slashing the lower abdomen, no need to hold back from coughing, laughing or leaping off the bed to go for a walk.
The only “slashing” these days is at the urinal, when the flow never fails to mimic that of mythical 18-year-olds.
The year has passed with many highlights:
- The birth of Oliver Thomas Tucker, first grandchild (thank you Megan and Kirk).
- Two PSA undetectables.
- A journalism graduation dinner I was actually able to attend last month (rather than imagine from the haze of anaesthetic recovery, as happened last year).
- A return to fitness, following walks and a change of diet to reduce red meat.
- A couple of months’ membership of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of NZ.
- Six months of blogging about prostate cancer, then “retirement” apart from occasional blogs. The site had 70,000 hits in the year, with about 20,000 people reading My PC Adventure.
- Many kind messages from readers, who seem to appreciate the candour of my account.
- Selling our house and buying a campervan, and so far several tours to beautiful parts of NZ. We may never own another property, having fallen in love with being on the road.
- Most important – the support of friends, colleagues and family.
I’m now more aware than ever how widespread is the prostate cancer “epidemic”, and without compunction will ask every 40-plus male I meet whether he gets himself tested.
An early stop on this current trip was at Palmerston North (the place John Cleese said made him suicidal) to visit my mate Lance, who is halfway through external beam radiation treatment for low grade prostate cancer. His prognosis is good.
I have one disappointment – lack of news about the NZ Parliament Health Select Committee inquiry into prostate cancer detection. It started with a hiss and a roar in September, but nothing has been heard so far this year.
My state of mind is rarely troubled by thoughts of whether or not I am “cured” of prostate cancer. It just doesn’t figure.
However, now and again there are reminders. An acquaintance who had his prostatectomy a decade ago told me recently he was suddenly suffering peeing problems, apparently caused by scar tissue resulting from radiation he had all those years ago.
And just yesterday I had to sit down for a few minutes after feeling a bit dizzy. But that may have been an over-zealous intake of resveratrol (erm, pinot noir) the night before, and absolutely nothing to do with anything else. But you do wonder for a moment.
For those who are curious but too polite to ask, “functionality” is fine. Erection firmness is as good as ever, although the lost inch is still a little disconcerting.
Libido is normal – ie, it disappears with work stress and goes berserk during holidays.
Orgasms are just as enjoyable and intense as before, and a lot less messy, of course. No more careless maps of Asia on the bottom sheet.
The only bad in my life is stress from work. I continue the task of rebuilding Whitireia Journalism School into a half-decent hall of learning, but at times the workload is immense.
In February and March this year I found myself toiling seven days a week every week just to meet the demands of graduating 28 diploma students.
As I enter the last quarter of my life, I’m thinking seriously about how to avoid doing that for too much longer.
That’s one of the upsides of getting cancer: you take a hard look at your lifestyle.
And the view. There’s a couple of kite surfers out there on the sea. Our spell of 15 straight days without rain is about to end, by the look of the gathering nimbus and the feel of the breeze.
Bugger cancer – I’m off for a walk. See you later.
READ the full story here: MY PC ADVENTURE