10 days before I semi-retired to 25% in July, I found out I had prostate cancer. That’s never going to sound like good news but fortunately, I turned 65 in August and Medicare reduced our costs significantly.
Because of my age and a couple of other circumstances, the best treatment for me was radiation rather than surgery to remove the prostate. I have had excellent doctors all the way.
In September I had 16 daily, external radiation treatments that were topped off on September 30 with a massive internal radiation blast where 17 needles were placed strategically into my prostate (if you need to stop reading here, I understand☺). After the needles were in place, my radiation oncologist worked with a physicist for over two hours to dial in the exact amount of radiation they were going to give to each of the needles. This seemed like space-age technology created by people who are so incredibly smart I wondered if I could carry on a conversation with them!
After the surgery, my doctor said he’d like to follow up with me in six months. Six months? That’s how successful this treatment is for this kind of cancer. I feel for all our friends with other types of cancer who can never quite take a deep breath while they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. I will probably just remember September 2019 as the cancer-treating month, not the year after year battle so many brave people wage.
One of the things I thought about almost every day was a sign I saw on a door in Uganda in July. We were in a little “strip mall” changing money and there was a bathroom at the end of the building. Well actually, it was just a hole in the cement floor people could squat over behind a closed door.
Next to the dingy squat pot was a sign on a door urging men to have their prostate checked and treated if they had cancer. Of course, I couldn’t agree more but I was baffled trying to think how the average man in Uganda, with 40% unemployment, was going to get proper treatment. After being in and under some of the most expensive and sophisticated machines you can imagine, I am utterly at a loss trying to imagine how a Ugandan man gets anything like the care I’ve received.
At the same time that I am so incredibly grateful that my cancer is most likely dying off, it still leaves a pang of sadness knowing that I experienced this lifesaving process because of my extraordinary privilege among the world’s men, even though my life has no more intrinsic worth or value than any other man on this planet.
You may know that feeling too, when you feel incredibly grateful and yet, at the same time, feel…not exactly guilty but a kind of heaviness that the goodness you are experiencing is not available to so much of the world’s population.
So that’s where I’m at. Incredibly grateful, feeling a lot of radiation fatigue which is normal, and praying/remembering/longing for more of God’s children to have access to life-saving healthcare.
I imagine I’ll feel some of these feelings my whole life but potentially, after all this radiation, I will be positively glowing in my senior years.
Glowing with love,