Many of you may have noticed that the Prostate Snatcher’s Blog has been temporarily on hold. Ralph Blum, my coauthor of the Blog, passed away in March at the age of 84. Ralph underwent surgery for a non-prostate-cancer-related abdominal problem and unfortunately was never able to recover.
This has been a sad time for me. In fact, I needed the last couple months to get my emotions settled down before restarting the Blog. Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Ralph, thank you for everything you gave us.
When your partner is diagnosed with prostate cancer you will undoubtedly experience a tidal wave of emotions, including the devastating fear that he might die. At the same time as you are trying to get a hold on your own fears, you also want to support and reassure your partner—who is struggling with the same shock and fear. It’s a tough act to balance, and it’s only too easy to repress or ignore your own feelings and needs.
Although I don’t subscribe to the idea that we men are exclusively the products of our hormones, our sex life—or lack of it—following cancer treatment is a matter of serious concern to almost all of us.
The stress of a diagnosis of cancer can throw patients into an “altered state” in which they are particularly vulnerable to suggestion—good or bad. And because most of us, as children, are taught to believe in the infallibility of doctors, the manner in which a doctor delivers a life-threatening diagnosis has a profound effect, and actually has the power to influence the course of the disease.
“No More Unnecessary Biopsies . . . ” The first four words of the sub-title of our book, Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers,” are a clear statement of our objective. I am no fan of biopsies. At the same time I know that a biopsy is an essential diagnostic tool when appropriately used. The problem is that too many doctors schedule an immediate biopsy if there is only a slight rise in PSA, when it would be more appropriate to explore less invasive diagnostic methods first.
The straight answer? Every guy who’s ever been told his PSA was elevated for his age, and that he needs to have a biopsy. Because from that point on, things can happen fast. It’s the prostate cancer version of baseball’s famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play—PSA Test-to-Biopsy-to-Surgery.
Prior to being biopsied, you need to be aware that almost half of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a chronic Low-Risk type, a condition which, according to my writing partner, prostate oncologist Mark Scholz, doesn’t really deserve to be called “cancer” and can be safely monitored without immediate treatment. This reassuring knowledge helps to diffuse the inevitable fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis.