Too Many Treatment Choices - Pappy's Pen #05

*Note - This article was not written by New John Simmons, but by a contributing writer named Pappy. This post is part of a continuing series called Pappy’s Pen where he writes about his family, faith and recent cancer diagnosis. *

*Note - This article was not written by New John Simmons, but by a contributing writer named Pappy. This post is part of a continuing series called Pappy’s Pen where he writes about his family, faith and recent cancer diagnosis.*

Well, it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  This is not what I expected.  I was going to go to my consultation with my doctor, and he would tell me what we were going to do to get rid of this cancer.  And I would be grateful to do whatever he recommended.  Instead, he gave me choices.  It will be my decision on how we go forward.  I asked him which of the choices he would follow if it was him.  He just smiled at me and said it was my decision.

First choice: watch and wait.  With this choice I could just let things slide for now, keep a watch on this “slow growing” cancer, and put off a decision for now.  Basically just wait and hope I die from something else before this cancer becomes a problem.  Just delay making a decision until it becomes critical. Did not sound like a good choice for me so I rejected this as a course of action.

Second choice: surgery.  With this choice I take a more aggressive action and have my prostate surgically removed.  Pathology would be performed to insure the cancer was contained and all removed and I would never have to worry about prostate cancer again.  That part sounds good.  The drawbacks are that I would be out of commission for 3-6 weeks while I heal.  I would need to have a catheter at first and then wear diapers until I trained the remaining muscles to control myself.  Can’t get excited about that.

Third choice: radiation.  I would go for 8 ½ weeks, 5 times a week for a dose of radiation to be directed at my prostate.  The only short term complications would be that I would have a gel injected between my prostate and rectum to shield the rectum from radiation damage. This will eventually dissipate.  I would also feel general fatigue during the treatment time.  The long term drawbacks are that the prostate cancer could return, and then I would not be able to have surgery to remove the prostate without serious complications due to the damage done to the gland from the radiation.  I would also be more susceptible to bladder cancer long term due to the radiation damage.

Basically I need to decide between the more aggressive surgery with harder short term complications versus an easier short term radiation treatment with possible worse long term consequences.  Both are acceptable treatments for the type of prostate cancer I have and both have a very high rate of success.

I am currently praying, and asking others to pray, for wisdom as to which course of treatment I should take.  I am feeling very vulnerable and unsure of what path to take, and yet God seems to be saying the choice is mine.  I desire a clear path, a road map to follow, and yet I’m not getting one.  Other times in my life when I am feeling strong and confident and sure of myself it seems God says “don’t trust yourself, follow the path I have for you”.  Choices.  When I am weak He is strong, and when I am strong I need to trust Him more.  He is being strong by allowing me to rest and rely on Him in my weakness.

Another choice I need to make is who do I tell, and how do I tell them.  I don’t want people to treat me differently because of this disease, and I don’t want to hide the fact I am sick also.  Except, I don’t feel sick, I don’t look sick.  I really won’t be feeling or acting different until I start treatment.  How do you get the message to people who care for you while avoid becoming gossip fodder for those who only want something to talk about?

 And already I am getting asked every day by people whom I have told, wanting to know which treatment I have chosen.  I know they are concerned, but the total sum of everyone asking is stressful.  More stressful than actually making the decision.   And then I get mad at myself for seeming to want it both ways, tell some not others, get concern vs be left alone.  I know I can’t control others actions or thoughts, and it seems I can’t control my own either.  As Paul says, “I am a wretched man.” 

So tomorrow is the day I go talk to the radiologist.  I already had a sit down with the surgeon.  This weekend I get to make my decision, then set a date to start whichever I choose.  It seems like the waiting and choosing is more stressful than the actual treatment, at least now it does.  I’ll let you know.

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