I’ve been asked by so many people about my prostate cancer that I want to give an update.
For those who don’t know, I was initially diagnosed at 53 with early stage prostate cancer. Now I’m 56 and I’m happy to report that a recent analysis of 12 samples taken in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai during my annual biopsy showed no cancer whatsoever.
For so many men who are diagnosed, prostate cancer will not be a fatal disease. The fact is that today we are able to detect it early and treat it, if necessary, in a variety of ways. It now appears that between 50% and 60% of men diagnosed have a kind of prostate cancer that may never be life threatening.
Because it appears that I’m among them, I’ve chosen a watchful waiting strategy to deal with my prostate cancer. As part of watchful waiting, I have quarterly blood tests and urological exams in addition to my annual biopsy. But no invasive surgery or other procedures.
My 12 samples coming back negative is an indicator that mine is likely a slow growing kind of prostate cancer. Watchful waiting has paid off very well for me, and it’s how things are routinely done in Europe. But in the United States, we’re an action oriented society and the assumption is that if you have cancer, you need to get it out of your body stat.
Yet treatments can have negative side effects, and not everybody requires treatment. As research gets better, we’ll get better at knowing who meets the patient profile of being a turtle (having slow-growing cancer like me) vs. who is an eagle (with the fastest-growing kind of cancer) and who is a rabbit (somewhere in between the two extremes.)
As for me, I will have another cycle of testing with routine exams every quarter and a biopsy a year from now and we’ll see how it goes. I talk with people in the medical field all the time about how cancer no longer necessarily equals death. Cancer can be awful for some people, but for me it’s more of an inconvenience.
I want you to know how much I appreciate all the concern from people. If you’re a guy and you meet the age requirements for a PSA or a DRE, you need to do these tests to preserve your life. The same goes for colonoscopies and any other screening. Women are so good at doing what’s required, but men, well, not so much. Get it in gear, guys!
Meanwhile, after I was in Los Angeles, I stopped in Phoenix to see my brother and his wife. While I was there, his house was invaded by 6,500 bees!
I couldn’t get to any of my stuff because of the home invasion, but I was only stung by one bee. The bee keeper who came by to help us said I was a lucky man. If this had been a particularly aggressive species of bees, they would have swarmed and taken me out! Fortunately they were a gentler species.
So there I am worried about my health after being in Los Angeles. Could you imagine if the bees did me in?!