Saturday, October 25, 2014

When The Cure For Cancer Is Worse Than The Disease

I recently read a heart breaking post on my Facebook page. Here's a portion of that post:

My husband had a robotic  prostatectomy in 2006.  Surgery cured his cancer but left him impotent and this killed his soul. We loved each other deeply and each of us knew that, but there was nothing I could do to heal his pain. If I tried to initiate intimacy, he would become anxious and push me away. 

Alternately, he would initiate intimacy when he had self-medicated with alcohol, which was difficult for me and never had a good outcome. Humor didn't go far, either. He felt damaged and wasn't a group kind of guy, so he never received professional help for his emotional pain and went deeper into depression. He committed suicide on August 7th of this year. While his impotence wasn't the only issue that drove him to his decision to end his life, it was a major factor in his feeling life wasn't worth living It's heart-breaking for our family.

I have another post which has haunted me since the day I read it:

Regret! Not from Prostate Cancer  but from decision to have a radical prostatectomy.It's now about nine weeks after surgery and things seem to be getting worse.The physical pain from the surgery is gone but everything else is deteriorating. There is not a minute where I don't regret my decision and  prefer to just evaporate. There is no denying it; I am now a freak. I don't respect myself and, in all honesty, I don't know how others would respect me either. Sleep is now my only comfort. Perhaps a very deep sleep will help me to evaporate, permanently.

Here are some other comments which are not as extreme, but clearly express the thought that the cure was far worse than their disease. Here's four more comments:

Comment #1 It’s become apparent that even best case scenario, sex isn't going to be anywhere close to what it was before. Even when we do "other methods", and manage sex in some kind of form, I just feel like a freak afterwards. I feel like I'm not even a man anymore. I wish now that I had never let anyone touch me, and that I would have preferred that I had just let the cancer kill me instead. Had I known then what this would be like, I would have told them to kiss my ass. I'd have just taken whatever time I had left. I won’t ever go within a mile of another doctor.

Comment#2 I’m 7 months in and wish i never let them talk me into having it removed. My life has changed and just keeps getting worse,

Comment#3 I know the feeling; I’ve asked myself a thousand times since my RP in June 2009…..WHY? I can still say I wish I had never had the surgery

Comment#4 I found out I had PC Feb. 2011. May 9 2011 I under went a radical prostectomy. Worst decision I ever made. 2 years later I still suffer from the side effects of the surgery. My life has change for ever. I'll never be the same again. I am in a deep depression and forever will be. I would NOT suggest surgery to anyone. There are other alternatives to consider. Please don't make the same mistake I did.

According to a survey on my Website 35% of the men who chose surgery would not chose it again based on their life experiences without a prostate. Sadly both Doctors and Treatment Centers are now in the business of promoting robotic surgery. Men are promised a rapid return of urinary and sexual functioning. Expectations are high and unrealistic, leaving some men so depressed they take their own lives. Others feel bitter toward the health care system which mislead about life without a prostate.

I'm not one of those men who regret my decision. Knowing what I know today I'd make the same choice. That said, I wish I knew prior to surgery what I know today. I don't want men or couples to suffer needlessly about the choice they made to treat cancer. It's a tragedy for a man to be cured only to hate his life so much he either kills himself or lives the rest of his life coping with anger, depression, bitterness, or regret.

If you want to understand the emotional, relational, sexual and spiritual aspects of life without a prostate check out my book: 
I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Don't be one of those men who regret their treatment decision.  Making the wrong choice  can be a very costly mistake in terms of how you'll  feel about the rest of your life.