Saturday, July 13, 2019

Faithful Suffering


Last night I was talking to my son Andy about change. I casually said:
"As I think about change, I think changes are usually for the worse."

At the time, I was thinking about restaurants that no longer exit, or businesses like Toys R Us, Orchards, Gottschalks, and Sears. Too many good places gone.

Then I broke "change" into two categories:
1. Wanted change-Some different happens or alters the course of our lives that in a way that pleases us. Kate and Ryan’s wedding comes to mind.
2. Unwanted change-Something different happens that we don’t like. Losing your health comes to mind.

As I thought about wanted, and unwanted change, I realized that change occurs from:
1. From the inside out-For example my vocal cords are scared. My voice will never sound the same.

2. From the outside in-Here an event occurs that changes your identity or role in your life in a permanent way. Becoming a grandparent comes to mind.

Put it all together and you get
Wanted and unwanted change. Then changes that from the inside out and outside in.

Then a Bible verse came to my mind:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

My mind immediately jumped to unwanted change that either affects us from the inside out, and outside in, things like abuse, rape, loss of health, the death of a loved one. 

Each and every tragedy you’ve experienced in your life has the potential to work together for good.

What makes this sound like a preposterous promise results from a misunderstanding of the meaning of the words “work together for good.”

The promise that all things work together for good does NOT mean we will eventually like, enjoy, or be pleased that some form of unwanted change or suffering entered into our lives or the lives of someone we know and love.

Tragedies occur that we will NEVER, EVER,  like or want.

Our tragedy and suffering change us. They’ve affect our faith, and our relationship with our creator. Tragedy and suffering also impact our relationship with family and friends.

Some folks give up, or walk away from their faith. Others blame God. After that, they act as judge and jury. 

They find God cruel, uncaring, useless, or non existent. They pass sentence, and banish God from their lives.

Then their are folks like me, who certainly does not understand why God allows for unspeakable and/or and unrelenting pain, suffering, and tragedy.

I understand His promise, so in my groaning, suffering, pain and misery,  I ask God to keep His promise. 

I expect to receive the unexpected. I expect to be changed from the inside out and the outside in.

Another Bible verse comes to mind:
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

I wish there was another way than suffering to produce these traits.  

In the mists of both past and present suffering I've asked God in prayer:
Lord, couldn't you accomplish the same things, if I won the lottery?" (Fat chance, I don't buy lottery tickets) 

My point here is simple. Pain, suffering, tragedy, sickness, accidents, disease, and suffering are all part of the package of living in this world.

Some of us have a prospective assurance, and hope of living in another world. A world where all suffering, tragedy, and pain end throughout eternity.

When we fully grasp that reality and see our suffering through the lens of our faith, which by the way isn’t easy or comes naturally, we can agree with Paul who wrote:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Don’t waste your groaning, pain or suffering, or tragedy.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.

Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with  erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Penile Implants.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Embracing Your Mistakes

This post was not written specifically for coping with prostate cancer and/or the psychological, physical, and relational issues that arise after treating PC.

I’m posting this because I believe my suggestions regarding coping with mistakes will have a positive impact on your life and relationships.

Its an undeniable fact that the older I get, the more mistakes I’ve accumulated.

Given that inevitably, my attitude towards my mistakes has changed in the following ways:

* I look for the humor behind every flub I make. It's a gift (and a wonderful release of tension) to have the capacity to laugh about my mistakes.

* Many of my mistakes provide me with highly useful warnings. For example, yesterday I left the house without checking the O2 level in my oxygen tank. I ran out of air before we arrived at our destination! Guess what new routine I’ve established? I'm going check the 02 level EVERY time we leave the house with a portable tank of oxygen. If the needle is in the red zone, I’m using a new tank!

* My habitual mistakes teach me of the necessity for me to change my behavior. For example, I got tired of misplacing my keys and my wallet. EVERY day I wasted precious time
searching the house. Now as soon as I get home, my wallet and keys are put in a specific place. The annoying daily search, is no longer part of my day.

* The most irreversible mistake I make occurs when I decide to store something in what I refer to as "a safe place." Whenever I decide to use “a safe place” it inevitably means I'll never, ever, see that item again. It’s somewhat embarrassing to tell my wife where I hide her gifts, but unless I want to buy that gift a second time, Brenda needs to know.

* Some of my mistakes involve my lacking information or making wrong assumptions. When I gave up the need for perfection, and embraced my deeply flawed humanity it’s easier to admit my mistake rather than invent an excuse for my behavior.

* Some of my mistakes occur because I'm selfish. I want what I want, so I neglect thinking about the consequences, or how my behavior will effect the people I know and love.

Looking back on my life, I suspect I've learned as much or more from my mistakes, than I have from my successes. 

So every time I blow it, which increases as I age, I look for the opportunity to discover the lesson and/or wisdom my mistake is offering to teach me.

What about you? Do you condemn yourself (or blame others) for your mistakes? 

Do you ignore the lessons your mistakes offer to teach you, which leads to repeating the same mistake(s) over and over again?


I hope you’ll decide your mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn, grow, and change.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.

Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with  erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Penile Implants.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Dance to Forget

There are so many types of dances. There’s the Jitterbug, the Fox Trot, the Charleston, the Rumba, and line dancing, to name few.

Over the years, I’ve created my own dance. Most dancing begins with music. My dance begins with favorable circumstances.

For example, today for the first time in many days, I was feeling well enough to take a day trip. So that’s exactly what we did.

When we arrived back in Modesto, I suggested we run some errands. We did that as well.

Once we arrived home, I wanted to do some chores.

Brenda recognized the dance. She said: “You’re not doing anything else right now, except to sit on the couch and rest.”

Thus I was prevented from my dancing my personally  created dance, which involves  one step forward, then three steps backwards.

I perform this dance each and every time I begin to recover from anything, be that an illness, surgery, injury, or disease.

I call this dance “The Old Four Step.” As I get older I’ve noticed my steps backwards are longer in length, and frequently involve pain.

This makes me wonder why “The Old Four Step" is my go to dance?

It's as though I haven't learned the intensity of misery from "The Old Four Step" makes it a dance I should avoid like the plague.

What about you? Do you have a “recovery dance” that takes you further away from your recovery?

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.

Their second book was written for couples living with erectile dysfunction. After living with erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their second book is:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Penile Implants.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

A Valuable Lesson On a Sleepless Night

This is the second of three Florida vacations where I became seriously ill while vacationing. 
I was diagnosed with pneumonia. I've been mad, angry, discouraged, and disheartened.
This Bible verse described my attitude to a tee:
"Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them."
Ecc 12:1


For the record, my first few YEARS of living without a prostate didn't give me much pleasure. Especially with the loss of urinary control, ejaculation, and four years of coping with erectile dysfunction.

Can you relate?

Late in the evening, I had the opportunity to connect with a Christian sister in Christ on Facebook. After our uplifting conversation, this event came to mind:
My last visit with my Pastor, Don Nelson was days before he died as a result of cancer.. I wasn't able to understand much of anything he tried to tell me. 

I was able to understand this one sentence:
He said "Rick you've been a good friend." 
Those were his last words to me, and they were/are still treasured.

Shortly after that, he motioned with his hand for his secretary who was also visiting ( she was his secretary for more than 25 years) to come closer to him. She came closer. He waved again, and she came right by his face. He lifted his head and kissed her. After the kiss, his head plopped down on his pillow from exhaustion. Blanche was in tears. She told me she'd remember that kiss for the rest of her life. 

I hope I remember Pastor Don's last words to me, for the rest of my life. The truth is I hadn't thought of that memory or the lesson I’d learned, for many years.

The valuable and life changing lesson I learned that day, (which I'd buried on the back burner of my mind) was this:

It's possible to show other folks your love, and God's love in a meaningful and life changing ways, when almost everything you have is taken away, IF you're creative and use what you have left.

I needed to remember that lesson today. Though I'm mad, frustrated, sleepless, and soon to be cranky. (I’m sure those who know me will find it hard to believe I get cranky)

I still have far more ability at my disposal to show folks my love, and God's love, than Pastor Don did on that day. If you’re reading this, so do you.


What do you know, it wasn’t a wasted sleepless night!

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.
Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with  erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cancer Patients Need Their Sleep

I can't count the number of sleepless nights I've experienced since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. There are so many phases of this journey where I've faced hours, days, and sometimes weeks of poor sleep. Here's a few places in my journey. You probably have others you can add.

My sleep troubles began after I went in to my Urologist for a prescription refill. My physician insisted on performing a DRE.

My world was turned upside down when he said he felt a "suspicious lump" which he wanted to biopsy. This was the event, one of many to come, which caused a significant amount of sleep deprivation.

When I went to the front desk to make an appointment for my biopsy I was told the earliest time available was in a month. They scheduled a second appointment two weeks later to discuss my biopsy results. I drove home in a daze. My world was turned upside down. I had a "suspicious lump" on my prostate which could be prostate cancer.

After my first sleepless night, I realized there's no way I'd survive four weeks of waiting for a biopsy, and two weeks after that to receive my biopsy results. Two things become my top priority in life. Getting a biopsy and biopsy results as quick as possible.

I reasoned that if my cancer was large enough to feel, I might be facing a life threatening disease. I wanted to receive a sand begin treatment yesterday, rather than many weeks from today. A night spent awake worrying increased my resolve to receive a diagnosis and treatment immediately. I felt certain my survival depended on this.

Night after sleepless night I imagined thousands of prostate cancer cells with razor sharp teeth, chomping away at the lining of my prostate looking to create a microscopic hole, so they could escape my prostate in order to kill me.

With that imagery in mind, I was more than willing to leave the Urologist who cared for me for more than two decades in order to find another Urologist who could get me tested, diagnosed, and treated, as soon as possible. I found one in a different city, who could get me tested and have the results in less than three weeks. I canceled my original appointments and scheduled a biopsy in another office.

I lost a lot of sleep in the weeks prior to my biopsy, the week waiting for the results, and countless hours of sleep after I was told I had prostate cancer with a Gleason Score of  4+3=7.  This was the beginning of a series of stressful events which resulted in loss of sleep.

Below is a list of events occurring days, weeks, months, and years, after my initial diagnosis which were highly stressful resulting in significant sleep loss.
1. Waiting for my bone scan
2. Waiting for the results of my bone scan
3. Waiting to discuss treatment options after bone scan results came back negative.
4. Time spent researching pros and cons of various treatments.
5. Waiting for appointment at a treatment center
6. Waiting for a pre-surgery exam
7. Waiting for surgery, a minimum of six weeks after a biopsy.
8. Waiting for a post-surgery biopsy
9. Living in diapers waiting to see if urinary control comes back
10. Waiting for the return of erectile functioning
11. Waiting for an appointment for penile rehab
12. Waiting to find an appropriate treatment for ED
13. Waiting for my marriage to return to a familiar place
14. Waiting for PSA testing  results every three minths
15. Coping with the fear of reoccurance.
16. Waiting for penile implant surgery
16. Waiting for intense penile implant surgery pain to end
17. Waiting for penile implant activation 

This is a partial list of the events in my journey with prostate cancer that resulted in significant sleep deprivation .

Given the inevitably, and harmful effects of sleep deprivation, which most cancer patients (and their caregivers experience). I believe assessing the frequency and duration of sleep deprivation is anessential part of treating all forms of cancer.

Sadly, the issue of sleep deprivation is seldom discussed and goes untreated. Most cancer patients and their caregivers suffer through long bouts of sleep deprivation without any assistance.

If sleep deprivation is a problem for you, meet with your physician to discuss the various ways to treat your sleep deprivation.
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.

Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with  erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:







Monday, August 6, 2018

I Hate Waiting For Test Results

Common sense leads me to assume the more you do something the easier it becomes. Why after eight years have passed since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I've discovered that it's more stressful waiting for my yearly PSA test results?

This was the first year I put off my PSA check. For seven consecutive years I've had my test in April. This year I put off testing until July.

According to an article in Zero The End of Prostate Cancer "Fortunately the five year survival rate for men with localized prostate cancer is nearly 100 percent. Although up to 40 percent of men will experience a recurrence so it is important to understand your risk for recurrence as well as live your life after cancer."

Is it wrong to assume the longer you live with prostate cancer the greater the odds of experiencing a reoccurance? There's no doubt other factors are involved in addition to the passage of time. Whether your cancer was contained within your prostate, and the stage of your cancer when you were intitally diagnosed impacts the odds of a reoccurance.

In addition to the clinical reasons for a reoccurance, almost all cancer patients have a universal fear of cancer returning. According to an article in Cancer.Net the fear of reoccurance is higher in the first year. I found the opposite is true for me. The longer I remain cancer free, the greater I think my odds are for a reoccurance!

Every day my mailbox does not contain the results of my lab tests, I'm thankful for another day to live in ignorance. 

Unfortunately, I'm also stressed. If there's one thing I've learned about prostate cancer is this, the earlier it's discovered, the better the odds for a successful treatment. I assume this is true about a reoccurance as well.

This year brings a new fear and other diagnosis I wish to avoid. Last year my blood tests revealed I was borderline diabetic. According to Healthline "If you have prediabetes, you should know you’re not alone. In 2015, it was estimated that 84.1 million Americans age 18 and older had the condition. That’s 1 in 3 Americans.Having prediabetes doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop diabetes. It’s a warning of what could lie ahead"

Due to chronic back pain, I had three spinal injections of cortisone. One of the dangers of  cortisone is this:
"People on steroids who are already at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes or those who need to take steroids for longer periods of time are the most susceptible to developing steroid induced diabetes."

So you treat one disease only to risk developing another. I don't want bad news. I just retired a few weeks ago. There's a part of me that wants one year of my retirement without any news of a disease old or new that will impact my life. I'd like to live my first year of retirement in ignorant bliss.

What I'd like, conflicts with what I know to be true. Early detection of any disease is better than late detection when damage is done. I compromised with myself. I put off my yearly physical and tests by a few months. Now I'm waiting to receive my lab results. I feel an obligation to my wife, children, and grandchildren to take care of the most precious asset I possess, my health. 

There'll be no riding off into the sunset in my RV, in ignorant bliss. I'm going to face and if necessary treat any issues discovered in my lab tests. If I didn't do that, the lessons I've learned as an eight year prostate cancer survivor would be wasted.
This poll on my Facebook page was answered by twenty folks. It isn't a scientific poll, but it does show I'm not alone in finding that waiting for test results gets more difficult with the passage of time. 

My advice is don't let difficulty, stress, or fear, stop you from doing what you know needs to be done

The question was does waiting for test results get easier or more difficult with the passage of time. Here are the results.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.


Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with  erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Penile Implants.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Together in Sickness and in Health

On June 7 2017, my wife and I celebrated our 37th anniversary. For six of those years, we’ve been coping with the quality of life issues associated with my prostatectomy. For many years, these issues had a negative impact on my self-esteem and our marriage. In order to preserve our marriage, we sought professional counseling. 

Every year since my prostate surgery, it seems I’ve had a new health crisis or surgery. Here’s a few of those medical challenges. I suffered lots of wrist pain for a long time.

 Finally, I went in for an exam. I was told that I needed surgery for carpel tunnel syndrome.

Sometime after that surgery, I tripped over my dog, fell, and injured my shoulder. I was in constant pain and unable to sleep well. It took almost a year to get a diagnosis and finally have a rotator cuff repair. After surgery, I spent almost two months in a sling, then three months in physical therapy.
Each year, a new health crisis has a negative impact on the quality of my life and the ability to enjoy time with my wife. For these reasons, I wrote my wife the following on her anniversary card:
“Today we celebrate our 37th anniversary. I’m not sure whether our best days are behind us or whether our best days are yet to come. Either way, I’m blessed to journey through life with you.” 
Shortly after I wrote that note, I received the unexpected news I need surgery to have my gall bladder removed. My wife and I stopped counting the number of surgeries I’ve had after I reached my tenth surgery.
All of these storms, unwanted changes, sleepless nights, months of chronic pain, multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and illness have taken a huge toll on me, my capacity to function, my ability to enjoy life, my energy level, and my capacity to love my wife.
I have no idea whether we will get a break from health challenges or whether this is the new normal for me and for us as a couple.
If this is our new reality, I believe the best is behind us, rather than yet to come. This is certainly not how I hoped to spend my “golden years.” There’s one thing that has been a blessing through all of these trials.
Thirty-seven years ago, my wife and I made a vow to each other before our friends, family, and God. We promised to stay together in “sickness and in health.” In our youth, and in good health, we had no idea how difficult and challenging keeping that vow would be.
For many years after my prostate surgery, I was convinced  my wife would be better off without me, rather than with me. I’m blessed beyond measure that I'm married to a woman who is committed to keeping her wedding vows.
How you treat your partner as they recover from an illness or surgery can affect how quickly they heal. A recent study found that patients whose partners displayed empathetic behaviors like emotional support, affection, and attention showed improved physical function over time.
There’s a reason your marriage vows included the promise to stay together in sickness and in health. We need each other, and we are more likely to successfully navigate through the storms of life as a team.
I pray those couples tempted to break your wedding vows will reconsider and get help in order to preserve your marriage and keep the marriage vows you made to one another.
It’s my prayer that couples facing the challenges of coping with the unwanted changes brought about by cancer and/or the quality of life issues couples face after treatment, will enable you to grow closer together, rather than further apart.
If your partner made a difference (positive or negative) in the way you coped with cancer, I hope you’ll share your story so other couples can learn from your experiences.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours? provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.

Their second book was written for couples living with erectile dysfunction. After living with erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:

This article was reprinted with the permission of Prostate Cancer News Today