REALITIES OF LIVING WITH CANCER
A cancer diagnosis is the start of a personal journey that will present genuine emotional and psychological challenges for both patients and their caregivers. The following reflections shared by fellow patients provide insight into the realities patients will likely need to process and manage as a part of the treatment and recovery process.
REALITY OF MORTALITY:
I immediately started to look at statistics on life expectancy after prostate cancer. Next I turned to statistics on life expectancy for my age. Now that was a rude awakening. Over the years, my expectation was that I would lead a long, long healthy life with no final number of years attached. It took a while to come to grips with the idea of having 5, 10, 15 , 20 years to live. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis puts us in a position of facing our mortality, as uncomfortable as that may be. After wrestling with the idea for a few days, I decided to follow the mantra, ‘It’s not how many days you have left, it’s about what you make of the days you have...I now make a point to live and experience each day as best I can and find simple ways to make each day special’.
REALITY OF TREATMENT:
The type of treatment used for cancer is dependent on the type of cancerous cell, age, and stage of development. Some patients will need to be treated aggressively, while others will be monitored by ‘ watchful waiting’. It is daunting to realize that no matter what, cancer cannot be cured.
REALITY OF DYSFUNCTION:
According to the medical community it is normal to have difficulty holding your urine after catheter removal. This is called urinary incontinence. Most patients use pads or adult diapers to control leaking urine, sometimes for up to one year.
In reality, the sterile, medical definition simplifies the actual issues you will face in your ability to pee after prostate cancer treatment. The inability to hold urine is anything but normal. The trauma from surgery and close proximity of the prostate gland to other body organs; bladder, urinary gland, bowel tracks, localized nerves,muscles, and catheter tube will result in some form of bladder dysfunction in almost all cases.
REALITY OF NEEDING A PLAN OF ACTION:
The patient and caregivers need to prepare a plan for as many contingencies as possible. Preparing prior to treatment can help alleviate an additional layer of stress throughout your recovery.
REALITY OF CANCER VARIABILITY:
Each patient will have different experiences, reactions and relapses throughout their recovery journey. The differences are due to a multitude of variables; type of cancer cells, extent of surgery, physical conditioning, type of treatment, the bodies receptivity to surgery, the bodies receptivity to healing, nerve regeneration... the list is as varied as each individuals DNA. The mystery of life becomes more profound the more I ponder having cancer.
REALITY OF MANAGING YOUR RECOVERY:
Each cancer patient ends up driving their own recovery. Each cancer has unique challenges for each patient, in that there is no single road map for treatment or management of the recovery process. So many decisions and actions will be taken along the way. After the challenges of the initial diagnosis, treatment and recovery process, the cancer patient may still face the recurrence of cancer, followed by a second or third set of treatments for recovery and finally end-of-life decisions.
REALITY OF ESTATE PLANNING:
I finally took the time to organize and put together a will, after knowing it was important, but putting it off for years. What a weird feeling to complete a will, being forced to come to grips with the reality of having cancer and my own mortality. I spent more than many hours organizing information that my executor would need to finalize my estate. It was a lot of work, but would be even more work if the executor had to attempt to find the information. Just one more item on my action plan.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION FOUND ON THIS WEBSITE IS NEITHER WRITTEN BY MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, NOR DOES IT CLAIM TO BE QUALIFIED MEDICAL ADVICE. All content is written by fellow Cancer Patients that have gone through their own cancer recovery process. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.