Sunday, March 1, 2015

Turning Your Cares Into Prayers

Did you ever read something then say to yourself I wished I'd read that years ago? I had that experience when I read a sermon that Charles Spurgeon gave about the topic of care & prayer.

Here's a summary of what he wrote:
Once you become careful, anxious, fretful, you will never be able to count your cares, even though you might count the hairs of your head. And cares are apt to multiply to those who are care-full and when you are as full of care as you think you can be, you will be sure to have another crop cares growing up all around you.
Cares are numerous and, therefore, let your prayers be as numerous.
Turn everything that is a care into a prayer. Let your cares be the raw material of your prayers and, as the alchemists hoped to turn dross into gold, so you, by a holy alchemy, actually turn what naturally would have been a care into spiritual treasure in the form of prayer.

Since a large portion of those who read both my blog, pre surgery, & post surgery forum are not Christians, I wanted to reach them without offending them, so I made the decision not include a very important part from Spurgeon's sermon. 

Now I have to ask myself did I misrepresent what I wanted to share about prayer by leaving out an essential truth? I suspect I did. What good is it to pray if you are praying to a God of your own imagination? Is there any value in that? I suppose there could some value in that in the same way some people experience an improvement in symptoms when they are given a placebo.

If prayers are going to be answered by the Creator of the Universe, it's important they be directed to the Creator of the Universe. Otherwise you might as well hold up your pillow and pray to that or anything else of your choosing.

So here's the last line I left out:
Baptize every anxiety into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit—and so make it into a blessing!

Agree or disagree, we are blessed to live in a free country. Our culture places very little value on Biblical truth, but when you are coping with a potentially terminal disease, it's important for me as a Christian to tell the Truth with a capital T.

You can turn your very real fears and cares into prayers. I pray you will be wise enough to do that by directing your prayers to the Creator of the universe.

As a result of my decision to leave out the last sentence, I created a new Facebook Page for Christians Coping with Cancer. where prayer and bible verses will be welcome.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? can  be previewed and purchased at

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Three Orientations Toward Prostate Cancer

For the last 4 years I've been reaching out to men with prostate cancer via the Internet. In that time I've observed three distinct orientations toward cancer. They are the (nose) Diver, the Survivor and the Thrivor.
The majority of people dx with cancer will spend some time in the Diver phase.

How do you know you are in the process of taking a nose dive? You will experience a few of these symptoms:
1. Trouble sleeping or concentrating
2. Persistent and intrusive thoughts about cancer or treatment.
3. Ever present feelings of anxiety, fear, irritability
4. Feelings of helplessness or loss control
5. A sense of pessimism or fear about your future
6. Excessive Worry- where we think and believe we will suffer all kinds of worse case scenarios.
7. You can experience depression, isolation, and withdrawal from previously satisfying relationships.
8. You might use drugs or alcohol to alter your mood or help you to cope.
9. Thoughts of suicide may be present.

 When you experience a nose dive you are completely overwhelmed by your dx of cancer or the changes in your life, brought about by the treatment of your cancer. Divers are frequently depressed and often highly resistant to getting help.

According to my website site survey about 8% of those dx with prostate cancer remain stuck in the diver phase long enough to damage or tear apart their relationship with their partner. Approximately 92% move to one of two different orientations. 

Cancer Survivors- Place a high value on overcoming problems They view cancer as a problem, a life challenge to be solved and resolved.  They want to get over things without too much introspection. They have a high need for control over the events and challenges in their lives. They are assertive.  They tend to have large networks of support.  They are not necessarily introspective.  Survivors are conquers.  Many people in this group will be the ones who will be socially & politically active. They are your leaders. They’ll start support groups, they will look to find ways to help others. `The best way to help a cancer survivor is to offer them options for each problem they face. So if the issue is coping with ED that’s not responsive to ED medication, you offer them a vacuum pump or penile injections or the possibility of a penile implant. They’ll make a decision. If they find an option that works, it’s on to the next problem that needs to be solved.
Folks in this group  would say that cancer has put a lot of stress on their relationship and some would readily admit their relationship is not as good as it was prior to a dx of cancer. Yet they get up every day and  do what needs to be done. Survivors  take pride in overcoming obstacles and their cancer is one of those obstacles. If you ask a cancer survivor if they could push a button and go back to their life pre-cancer, overwhelming majority would say yes without any hesitation.

Cancer Thrivors will tell you that their experience with cancer has transformed their life as an individual and as a couple. They will tell you how much more they appreciate the gift of life, and how much closer they feel toward their spouse and children. They talk about the ways in which  cancer has transformed their lives as individuals and as a couple. They’d tell you they’ve become more loving, open, honest, and caring. They’d say their sex life isn’t the same as it was prior to cancer, but they found ways to mutually satisfy one another and they enjoy their physical and sexual relationship together. Many will say it’s different but it’s better than pre-cancer days. This group of people usually have a network  consisting of friends and/or family They go places together as a couple and know how to have fun. Laughter and humor plays an important part of their lives. They cultivate an attitude of gratitude, they are grateful for the smallest things and they’ll thank you profusely for any act of kindness you show toward them. 
Thrivors are interested in interpersonal growth opportunities and if you work a thrivor they’ll be interested in books or conferences that involve personal growth opportunities.

The Diver phase is the most dangerous phase, emotionally, relationally, and physically. The risk for suicide doubles for men in this phase. Since most men are highly resistant to getting outside help, I'd encourage anyone living a  diver who is refusing to get outside help, to encourage them to either go on-line to a prostate cancer support forum and start off my reading threads that interest them. Buying a book about coping with prostate cancer is another option.

If you are interested in sharing your experiences in any of these phases I hope you'll share your story.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? can  be previewed and purchased at

Friday, February 13, 2015

Why I Decided to Get a Penile Implant

Almost four years ago, I had my prostate removed via da Vinci surgery. I had double nerve sparing surgery. My surgeon was certain I'd regain erectile functioning. I participated in a penile rehab program which included penile injections. I had no doubt my erectile functioning would return.

Over the course of the next 3 years I had off and on results with ED medication. Approximately 50% of the time I could achieve an erection that worked. In the 4th year nothing worked. My failure rate jumped from 50% of the time to 100% of the time. It was clear that I was facing the rest of my life with erectile dysfunction that would respond to injections or medication.

At age 63 I asked myself an important question. Did I want to live out the next 10-15 years of my life without the ability to have sexual intercourse. My answer to this question surprised me. I'd gotten older than I realized. In my 30's, 40's and 50's, it  would me a second to answer that question with a resounding NO. I was now in my 60's and what my wife thought about the whole matter was important. If she said I wouldn't miss making love with you, I would not have bothered with a surgery.

Both of us missed the physical closeness that's all part of making love . Both of us wanted to have this experience again. When I say again,  I'm not talking about making love once a month, I'm talking about multiple times per/week.

Three weeks ago I went to UCSF for penile implant surgery. I must confess I was embarrassed each time a nurse entered my room. They knew exactly what type of surgery I had and why. I wondered if they were disgusted or grossed out with the thought that a 63 year old man enjoys sex.

According to Hollywood, sexuality is  reserved for the young and beautiful. I do not possess either of those qualities. Yet in our 60's both my wife and I agree that our sex life is better now in our 60's than it was in our 20's. I wouldn't go back.

In Feb 2015,  I made a decision to get back what cancer took away, my erectile abilities. In a few weeks my wife and I will have a test run on my new bionic equipment. Since ED is such a distressing act of life for many men without a prostate, I'll be reporting back about my experiences and whether or not it's worth it to go through the risks and pain of this surgical procedure.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Penile Implant Surgery Tips

Did you ever wish for a re-do button that would allow you to re-do a decision or event knowing what you know today. Even though I'd spent hours on-line researching information on penile implants and reading dozens of threads written by men who've had surgery, I didn't get the information I needed.

I thought I'd make a list of things that I didn't know but wished I had. One week post surgery, if someone offered me a re-do button,  I'd push it without hesitation.

Knowing these ten recommendations would prevent a week of unrelenting pain. I'd have avoided waiting an extra 3-5 weeks to have my implant activated. I would have  reduced the number of weeks I had to stay at home unable to drive a car or go back to work. In other words, this list could save you from unnecessary grief, delays in healing,  and physical pain.

If you are considering a penile implant, allow this blog to replace your wish for a re-do button.

1. Insist your surgeon use a drain-otherwise your scrotum could swell up to the size of a grapefruit
2. Jock straps aren't the right support for everyone. Sometimes they will cause the pain you are trying to avoid. If you decide to use a jock strap make sure it's large enough to give you the scrotum support you need. Not all jock straps are created equal. The wrong strap will cause you serious pain.

3. If your scrotum is too large for comfortable support from the jack strap use a folded towel. Don't let a swollen scrotum just hang down with no support.
4. If compression underwear is comfortable use it. If it hurts go with loose fitting boxers with some form of scrotal support.
5. If non narcotic pain meds are not effective start with a STRONG narcotic pain med or you may suffer from unnecessary pain. It took a week of unrelenting pain before I got an effective pain med.
6. Don't over use ice. You can't decrease the time it take to reduce you swelling, but  it will feel good. No more than 20 minutes at a time. No more than 3-4 times in a day.
7. It takes effort to find a comfortable way to sit in a chair. You'll need some type of support under your scrotum in order to sit without discomfort.

8. Reclining chairs are wonderful. I slept in one for a week

9. If you sleep on your stomach as I do, you may find it necessary to sleep on your back. It was impossible for me to sleep on my back a flat bed. For the first week I slept on a recliner. Then my wife and I purchased a sleep number bed which allowed me to adjust the head and feet. With the head portion up I was able to sleep in bed, on my back.

10, Even with the most comfortable recliner and sleep number bed I could not fall asleep without the use of medication. I had my Doctor order a month supply of sleep medication  Every few days I'd  to go asleep without medication.  The following rule governs my use of medication for sleep: I'm still awake 1 hour past the time I go to bed, I'll take medication for sleep. I've used sleep medication seven out of the last eight nights.

Eight nights  post surgery (with severe scrotum swelling) It's too painful to sleep on my stomach and . I truly hate sleeping on my back, Our reclining chair was a life saver. What brought me back to my bedroom was a very expensive (but worth the price) sleep number bed with adjusting head and foot positioning. I long as my head is raised up by a 45 degree angle or more, with the help of medication, I can sleep well.

Sleep is essential for healing. If you have having difficulty in this area, make sure to discuss this with your Surgeon or your General Physician,  Sleep impacts how you will heal and how you will feel.

Rick Redner & Brenda Redner are the authors of:
I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where's Yours? 
Their award wining book was written to help men and couples cope with prostate cancer

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Asking For Help That Never Comes

Anytime we find ourselves in the role of  a patient, whether we like it or not, we find ourselves extremely dependent upon our doctors. In addition, we have some unspoken expectations that are reasonable expectations toward those who are treating us. We can reasonably expect our doctors

1. To evaluate our symptoms and accurately come to a diagnosis
2. To posses the skills to treat our disease or refer us to someone who does
3. To posses the skills to perform a procedure, test or treatment for our specific disease
4. To provide appropriate  after care and pain control
5. To be available by phone in the event of an emergency

If any of these assumptions prove incorrect, we as the patient, may experience something very unpleasant, life altering or life threatening.

This week I went to UCSF for a penile implant. There was no doubt in my mind this was the appropriate form of treatment for my post prostatectomy erectile dysfunction. I had absolute confidence in my surgeon's skill level and ability to perform this procedure.

After three days at home, it became clear that I was experiencing an allergic reaction to my narcotic pain medication. I was experiencing  difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and an annoying wheeze. When I stopped taking my pain medication all of those symptoms stopped. Unfortunately, so did my relief from pain.

On Wednesday morning I called my surgeon's office. I told them this was an post operative emergency situation. I explained that was unable to tolerate my current pain medication. I asked his nurse to have my surgeon call in a new script as soon as possible. She assured me help was on the way and I believed her.

At 5:15pm I discovered I'd made costly and inaccurate assumption. I believed my surgeon's nurse that help was on the way in the form of a new prescription. I neglected confirm this assumption by calling  my pharmacy BEFORE 5pm.

If I 'd followed up and checked it out rather than believe, I would have discovered that a script was not called in. At  5:15pm. my surgeon's office was closed. Everyone had gone home, leaving me in severe pain without a new prescription. 

My first plan involved calling the office within the first five minutes of their arrival the following morning.  I planned to speak with the Office Manager with righteous indignation. I'd  tell her that I'd just been through 24 hours of unrelenting and excruciating pain because a nurse ignored my  phone call on the previous day.  I'd demand she interrupt whatever my surgeon was doing to get me a new pain medication RIGHT NOW!.

Fortunately, my pain spoke to me, asking a very simple question which demonstrated the foolishness of my plan. Here's the question that changed my planned course of action: Are you prepared to spend a sleepless night in unrelenting pain? My answer to that question was a resounding NO. That meant it was time to do something about my pain right now at 5:20pm.

I found the number for the On-Call Resident. I left a message with the operator. Within ten minutes I speaking to a doctor. I told him what happened. Five minutes later my pharmacy received a phone call for new pain medication. My wife drove to the pharmacy to pick it up. After taking my new pain medication I was able to slept continuously for the six hours. Clearly, calling the On Call Resident led to a much better outcome for me than waiting all night without pain relief.

When I go for my first post operative check which happens to be tomorrow, I'll make a complaint to both the Office Manager & to my surgeon. There's no reason to be mad at him, I doubt he was told that I called. He needs to know that his office staff are not following through with patient care.

Making this complaint doesn't take away or make up for the unnecessary time I spent without pain relief. There's a lesson here for all of us who find ourselves in the role of a patient. We can't assume things will go as planned or we'll receive the appropriate care we need with a single request or phone call.

I learned whenever I need immediate and necessary care, it's foolish to wait until the doctor's office is closed before I check and monitor what is and isn't getting done. I wish this wasn't true, but in the end it's our responsibility to hold our health care providers accountable. Making repeated phone calls in a single day may not be our style, but it is necessary, if we don't want to pay the price of being forgotten.

Rick Redner & Brenda Redner are the authors of:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?  
A book written to help couples cope with prostate cancer, and life without a prostate

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WestBow's Real Authors Real Impact Campaign Features I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Your?

Author Solutions Real Authors, Real Impact Campaign
Redner hopes to help men and couples cope with prostate cancer.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jan. 26, 2015 -- Author Solutions, LLC, a Penguin Random House company and the world’s leading provider of supported self-publishing services, is featuring Rick Redner, author of the WestBow Press title I Left My Prostate in San Francisco—Where's Yours? through its ongoing Real Authors, Real Impact campaign.

One in seven American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. At age 58, Redner went to a routine exam, during which his life was turned upside down when his urologist discovered a suspicious lump on his prostate. Redner recalled the rapid transition in his life—from feeling healthy one moment to discovering he could be facing a life-threatening cancer the next.

“My wife and I found ourselves totally unprepared for so many issues we’d face together,” Redner said. “We decided to use our experiences to give other couples the opportunity to be better prepared than we were.”

Prostate surgery results in both temporary and permanent changes that affect emotional, relational, sexual and spiritual life together as individuals and as a couple. Redner said he and his wife discovered quickly that prostate cancer is not a man’s disease -- it’s a couple’s disease.

“It became evident to us that we were called to write a book to help others cope with prostate cancer and to reach men and couples inside and outside of the United States,” says Redner. “We’ve had the opportunity to share our experiences on radio talk shows, write articles for magazines and host an online, faith-based pre- and post-prostate surgery support forum, which receives thousands of page views per month. We stand in awe at the number of doors that continue to open for us to help others. None of this would have or could have happened if we ignored the call to write our book.”

Redner believes his book has created the opportunity to reach people all over the world through social media and his website. “Men and women from the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, France, India, Mexico, Poland and Romania have visited our online ministries. We touched the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world.”

To learn more about authors self-publishing books to impact the lives of others, please visit Follow@authorsolutions on Twitter and “Like” us at for the latest self-publishing news; and visit for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

My transformation  from a frightened man newly diagnosed with prostate cancer to a writer, author and speaker was nothing short of amazing to me.

If you wish to purchase my book here's the link: I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Penile Implant Dilemma- To Tell or Not To Tell- An Important Issue to Resolve

As I was working through all the details to take off from work in order to have surgery, I was faced with questions and a natural curiosity about the reason for my surgery. Most of the people who know me are aware that I'm a prostate cancer survivor. Therefore, there was some degree of concern or alarm that my surgery was related to a return of prostate cancer.

I wanted to put people's mind at ease without having to tell anyone "The reason I'm having my surgery is to treat my erectile dysfunction." or "I'm going into surgery for a penile implant."

I decided to answer all inquires in a way that enabled me to maintain my privacy. If someone asked: "What type of surgery are you having? I'd answer: "I'm having a restorative surgery." I was grateful that no one asked me  "What exactly is it that you're getting restored?" I have no idea how I would have answered that question.

After surgery, I discovered a down side to keeping things to yourself.  By keeping the reason for my surgery private I robbed myself of the opportunity to share my joy, concerns, trials or fears pre or post surgery. I will share my deepest fear about the penile implant here with you.

I imagine myself on a romantic getaway with my wife. We have a wonderful sexual encounter. Now it's time to lay peacefully in each others arms. I discover one problem. I can't find the release valve for the implant. Our time in bed is cut short because I need to  locate and drive to the closest Emergency Room. Once I arrive, I'll need to explain that I'm stuck with an bionic erection that won't go down. The only person who could help me is someone who knows where the release valve is located in my scrotum. Since this isn't the  type of medical problem that occurs every day, I suspect they'd need to phone someone  who has the experience to find  find the release valve in my scrotum. I imagine myself sitting in an exam room for hours with an erection, waiting for that one specific person to arrive. Upon their arrival, I'd have to pull my pants down and allow a total stranger to feel my scrotum in order to find and press the release value. This event would humiliate and probably scar me for life.

To prevent my fear from becoming a reality,  my wife is coming with me when I learn to inflate and deflate the implant. If I can't find the release value I want to be certain my wife can.  There's no way I want to suffer that type of humiliation.

If you've made a decision to keep a procedure or surgery private, there are places to go where you can share  your experiences with people who know exactly what you are going through.  On-line you can find forums for every treatment, surgery or procedure. In these forums you can share your their fears and concerns, You can ask questions and get great answers from people further along the journey that you are on.  Since this is a blog about implants, here's a link to an active forum: about penile implants:                 Frank Talk Implant Discussions

If I had the opportunity to go back in time and start again, I'd make the same choice. I don't need to tell friends or family about my erectile dysfunction or my decision to have a penile implant. That said, I think it's important for a man considering an implant have the opportunity to speak with men who made that decision.

After surgery it's great to be contact with men who have helpful and creative tips with regard to dealing with post surgery issues and lots of experience using the implant. My implant surgery isn't something  I want to share with friends and family, but I do believe it's vitally important to reach out to obtain information, support encouragement, advice and help from folks who've traveled further along the road you are traveling.