Prostate Surgery and Beyond

In my last post, I had mentioned that after considering our options, we decided that surgery was the best choice for us. We researched and read in order to prepare ourselves for the big day. Sure, we both had some deep concerns regarding what the pathology report would read and what the next steps would be. But we prayed and left all those anxieties and worries at the foot of the cross.

On a partly cloudy day on September 20th, as sat as a family in the waiting room, I almost forgot why we were at the hospital. However, I was quickly reminded when my name was called and a nice lady applied a bracelet to my wrist. Things were starting to get more real. But I was ready! I was also hungry… I mean, I’m a breakfast man so… I’m just saying… When my name was called again, it was for real. It was time for me to take the long road to the pre operative area.

I was given a gown to change into. The anesthesiologist then came to the room. He was a rather quiet, stoic man. He asked me if I needed anything, to which I responded, “how about two shots of Jack Daniels?” Unimpressed by my response, he said, “well, we’ve got some medications that…blah blah.” “Could you just humor me,” I thought to myself. But the anesthesiologist went about his business. The nurse who was completing my pre-op papers kind of chucked at the exchange. Much to my surprise, I got a visit from my pastor and one of our elders who said a quick prayer and wished me well.

After an IV was started in my arm, I was wheeled to the cold operating room. The only thing I remember was seeing a large piece of equipment in the center of the room. This was the robotic machine used for the prostatectomy. After that, all I remember was waking up in the recovery room with a catheter. I was then transferred to a hospital room where I stayed two nights.

It was nice to come home to my own bed. I’m not the greatest of patients but the recovery was not too bad. I had a lot of help and mother-in-law even came down, and she was great!

Fast forward to eight months after surgery and I’m doing great! My latest PSA was still undetectable and I’m officially cancer free. I will still have my three month checks for two years. I continue to thank God for the medical team that treated me, for all the prayers and support from friends and of course for my family. I especially thank my one, my only, my forever partner, my love, mon cherie, my ride or die. My wife of 23 years has a been my rock, my unwavering support, my nurse and my best friend! I couldn’t have gotten this far without her.

I can officially say that I’m a survivor!

Staying Close During Social Distancing

People who know us well, know that I’m an extrovert and my wife is an introvert. I require longer periods of socializing whereas my dear wife, contrary to popular belief, does like social interaction, but has to have it in spurts and needs time to decompress after long periods of socializing.
So how do we, as polar opposites on the socializing scale, make our marriage work during this time of quarantine? This also applies to couples who don’t normally spend a great part of their day together. I offer a few suggestions:

Love our walks together!
  1. Respect Each Other’s Differences

Respecting one another’s differences is important at any time but when you’re in lockdown mode it’s extremely important. I have to be aware of not “suffocating” my spouse and she in turn connects with me after she’s had her alone times. 

  1. Be Willing To Communicate 

In times of a quarantine when social interaction is limited, it’s important not to isolate yourselves further.  It’s vitally important for us to communicate with one another if we need hugs, space, kisses or conversation.   

  1. Be Attentive To Your Spouse

No matter how much “alone time” a person enjoys, we all need some amount of socializing. When this is not possible, feelings of isolation, anxiety and fear can squeeze like a vice grip.  So it’s up to each spouse to be attentive to each other’s needs.

  1. Be Patient With Each Other 

Being around each other more can feel like your spouse is in front of you every turn you take.  This can feel a little like deja vu.  It’s important to be patient with one another and try to somehow have fun with these situations.

  1. Say I Love You

The most important way to survive a time of social distancing is to tell each other “I love you” often. These three words can never be said enough and are the foundation to Twobecomingwon!

What are other ways for a marriage to survive an increased time together?

THE TREATMENT PLAN

Now that we are well versed on the Gleason system, I’ll continue my story.

So with all the pieces of the puzzle together, now came time to break out the National Comprehensive Cancer Guidelines (NCCN) to develop a treatment plan. The NCCN is a comprehensive set of guidelines developed through extensive review of clinical trials and existing treatment protocol along with expert medical judgment and recommendations by physician panels made up from Member Institutions. These guidelines cover 97 percent of all cancers affecting patients in the United States and are updated on a continual basis.

According to the NCCN flowchart, interventions or treatment protocols are based on age and life expectancy. This means that the younger the patient, the more aggressive the intervention. Conversely, the older the patient, the more conservative the approach. For example, a 75 year old male diagnosed with a Gleason 7 prostate cancer would more than likely undergo radiation rather than surgery.

Well, from what I remembered, my Gleason score was 6. According to the NCCN Guidelines, the recommendation was prostatectomy (removal of the prostate), brachytherapy (radioactive pellets placed into the prostate gland) or external beam radiation. And with the radiation, I would have to decide if I wanted to have androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), which are basically injections to decrease testosterone, which is known to promote prostate cancer growth.

So, again, my Gleason score was repeated as a 6. And now I had to decide on which type of radiation I wanted as treatment and if I wanted to go through with ADT. Well, nothing sounded extremely attractive about pellets being inserted into my prostate or ADT. So I decided against those and surgery and opted for external beam radiation, which I know from others who had it or were having it, that it was 40 treatments.

Of course, as with any discussion of a surgical procedure or medical treatment, came the discussion or “informed consent.” “Everyone is different and not everyone has these effects, but some of the side effects of radiation are urinary incontinence, blood in the urine, painful urination, diarrhea and erectile dysfunction. These are mostly temporary and medications can be given for erectile problems.” (Sorry, I have to keep it real). Just what I wanted to hear- feasible ways in which I could help keep the prescription drug industry viable! (insert sarcasm face). Well, this was starting to sound less attractive

I left that appointment determined to do more research in terms of pros and cons of radiation therapy. I knew I need to find people who had been through this type of treatment and glean from their experiences. To be continued…

As we continue to raise awareness for prostate cancer, please remember: Although there may not be a hard rule for screening, talk to your doctor about a PSA test if you’re between 45 and 55 years old. Screening should be done at 40-45 years of age for African Americans, Latinos or if there’s a strong family history.

Why I Love My Wife

She’s beautiful. The kind of beauty that radiates from the inside.

She loves life and loves speaking life to others!

She’s analytical. She’s often deep in thought about a lot of things.

She’s an introvert but she loves that even though I’m an extrovert, I respect her need to withdraw at times.

She loves family and would do anything for her family.

She’s a motivator and deeply enjoys helping others reach their personal and fitness goals one on one.

She has the loudest, cutest laugh in any room! But it’s a joy to see her enjoying herself.

She always has a sacrificial kind of love.

She always believes in me and makes me feel strong.

In short, I love her because she means everything to me!

Love Built To Last

Recently I had a situation which left me surprised, speechless and stunned. I may share particulars of this issue at a later date. My natural tendency was to stop, breathe and process what was going on.

To do this, I had to withdraw so that I could gather all my thoughts. However, in the midst of organizing my thoughts, I was slipping into reclusiveness. Unbeknownst to me, I was at the same time pushing away the one person who wanted to be with me, cheer for and support me.

But my bride of 23 years would not allow me to withdraw, be quiet or remain lost in my thoughts. Nope! She took me by the hands and told me, “we are in this together, I want to know your thoughts and feelings. You can’t shut me out!” At that moment I realized that she would not compromise or back down. I was reminded of her deep love for me. I was reminded that because we are “won” my thoughts, feelings, fears and tears are also hers.

Yes, I was reminded of the fact that our “woness” does not work in isolation. I was reminded one more time of what our love means:

Lasting

Not Ordinary

Vital

Empathetic

Thanks honey!!

Understanding Differences Between Men and Women

So this past Mother’s Day, I tried to do more stuff around the house so that that my wife, and mother of our kids, could just relax. While my wife enjoyed her cards, flowers and lunch, she also had arranged her empty Clinique products on the bathroom counter for full display. “I don’t ask much, just for some observation,” she said as she swept her right hand as to uncover a prize.

At that moment, I felt like I was three days late for the prom! So I went into “fix it mode,” because that’s what men do, right? I told her that I would get new products but she told me not to bother, that she would do it.

This incident portrays a stark difference between men and women: women want men to notice things they need whereas men want to be told what women want or need.

A woman’s desire would be for her husband to be observant and proactive in both noticing and fulfilling some wants. This lets the woman know that she is being thought of. Unfortunately, most men aren’t wired this way. Most men would be happy to fill a need once they are asked.

Knowing and understanding these differences is of vital importance in a marriage. It prevents misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations and disappointments. It is also important to be able to discuss these differences with grace, patience and without setting ultimatums. This allows for healthy communication and may also help each person to be more sensitive to each other’s needs.

So how did this play out? Well, she never did go to get her Clinique products. So I assured her that I would take care of it and I did! Now she’s all set…and I’ll try to be more intentional on being observant.

Thursday Marriage Tip

Gentleness, kindness, and self-control will produce more fruit in a marriage as a post to sarcasm.

Thursday Marriage Tip

Husbands, tell your wife daily that you love her. This will make her feel special and wanted. Wives, tell your husband you appreciate him.  This will make him feel appreciated and accomplished.

22 And Us

My wife and I recently celebrated our 22nd anniversary. I remembered, she forgot. We were in Cancun at the time, so she gets a pass, lol!

In celebrating our 22 years of “woness,” I thought of some things that have characterized our union. I thought I’d share these:

1. We have always made “us” a priority.

No matter what was going on with our kids, work or family, we never sacrificed our togetherness.

2. We have never taken ourselves too seriously. Life is short and being able to laugh at ourselves has been good for our soul.

3. Praying together has allowed us to face obstacles that would’ve otherwise been very difficult.

4. Serving and encouraging each other has always been at the forefront of our marriage.

5. We modeled a loving relationship to our kids. And although as parents we had successes and failures, we never pointed fingers at each other.

6. Finally, I found out that I love my wife more today than I ever have.

I hope this can serve to both encourage future marriages and strengthen current marriages.

What are some things that have characterized your relationships?

Top 10 List For Newlyweds 

As my wife and I prepared to attend a double wedding, I was given the task to sign the cards.  As I thought about our wedding day and our first two years of marriage, I wanted to give the couples something that they could use and to which they could refer as a reference.  So I came up with a Top 10 list of important items for newlyweds to remember that could strengthen their marriage.


So, here it is: Top 10 Things For Newlyweds To Remember:

10 You can’t say “I love you” enough

9. Kiss your spouse often, especially in the morning and at night.

8 No matter how busy you get, never stop having dates

7 “Don’t let the sun go down in your anger”

6 Husbands want to be respected

5. Wives want to be loved 

4 Mutual sacrifice is the key to marriage. Care more about your “Woness” than about your individual selves

3. Remember 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, Love is kind, Love never fails

2. Wives, should look to their husband to lead and husbands should lead by following Christ

1. Always Keep Jesus at the center of your marriage. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Do you have anything to add to this list?