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story to: by the first of each month. All submissions are subject to editing. Name withheld upon request`

I Left My Prostate in

San Francisco By Rick Redner

At age fifty-eight I went to an appointment with my Urologist to get a prescription re-fill. Before providing me with my refill, he said he wanted to check my pros- tate. I had no idea the next five seconds would change the course of my life forever. After my exam the Doctor said he felt a suspicious lump on my prostate and that I’d need a biopsy. I could believe what I’d just heard. I went into the exam feeling healthy, I was left facing with possibility I had a life threatening disease.

My biopsy confirmed the fact I had prostate cancer. I associate three words with cancer they are pain, suffering and death. When my Urologist asked me how I’d like to treat my prostate cancer my jaw nearly dropped to the ground. I knew absolutely nothing about pros- tate cancer, let alone how to treat it. At a time when my emotions were out of control I had make one of the most important decisions of my life, which was how to treat my prostate cancer.

I wasn’t ready to die. I wanted to live long enough to walk my daughter down the aisle. I wanted be around when my first grandchild was born. I wanted to live long enough to enjoy retirement and travel with my wife. All of my dreams for the future were threatened by the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Choosing how to treat prostate cancer is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made in my lifetime. As I researched the various treatment options I was struck by a procedure that’s heavily marketed to men called Robotic Surgery. The claims were astounding. A one- day hospital stay, back to work in two weeks, and no permanent side effects. I was sold hook, line and sinker. I wanted robotic surgery.

There is a 4-6 week wait after a biopsy before you can have surgery. I wish I could say I used that I used that time to take my wife on an amazingly romantic vaca- tion and created memories that will last us a lifetime. The truth is I spent most nights sleepless and worrying. I wanted to part ways with my prostate as quickly as

Oracle 20/20 September 2013

Eventually the time came for my surgery. A week later I received the fantastic news my cancer was confined to my prostate and there would be no need for any addi- tional treatment. It appeared I was cured of prostate cancer. I expected to feel joyful for the rest of my life. Shortly after receiving this wonderful news I began to struggle with a phenomenon common to many men who choose Robotic Surgery. It’s called buyer’s remorse. The life I expected after surgery was very different from the life I was living.

I was coping with severe urinary incontinence, which required me to change my diaper fifteen times a day. Even though I had double nerve sparing surgery I learned that it would be 18-24 months before I’d have another erection. Dealing with the loss of urinary con- trol and coping with erectile dysfunction are two knock- out punches to a man’s self esteem. I became seriously depressed and was sorry I’d survived surgery. No one warned me about the possibility of experiencing a post-surgical depression or buyer’s remorse. After losing my sense of grati- tude I went into hiding. I isolated myself from everyone, including my wife. We learned the hard way that prostate cancer is not a man’s disease, it’s a disease that profoundly affects couples.

Even though I believe in a God who provides comfort, answers prayers, loves us unconditionally, I knew the load I was carrying was too heavy for me to carry alone. I had to do something men traditionally hate to do. I had to get help. I went on line and joined a few prostate cancer sup- port groups. I met men further

along this journey who knew exactly what I was going through. In these groups I received encouragement, support, and information.

It’s taken time and effort for my wife and I to make peace with our post-surgical relationship. I’ve waited for the day I’d stop thinking of myself as a prostate can- cer survivor, but I’ve learned that’s not going to happen. Being a cancer survivor is now part of my identity. I’m cancer free and I can say I’m glad I left my prostate in San Francisco.

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