Monday, June 21, 2021

The Importance of Laughter

 IF THE LAUGHTER HAS GONE OUT OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP….DANGER WILL ROBINSON! WARNING, WARNING, WARNING!

“The couple that doesn’t laugh together has lost a critical healing component to their relationship.”

The Bible says:

Laughter (or a cheerful heart) is good medicine.    ~Proverbs 17:22~

“If you stop laughing together, your marriage can naturally slide into crisis mode.”

Another benefit of laughter in marriage:

“Research has found that laughter produces Oxytocin, a chemical in the brain also referred to as the bonding chemical.”

https://marriagemissions.com/laugh-marriage-mm-109/

As Brenda and I get older, we are discovering the process of aging provides a lot of material to laugh about.

For example, our mistakes in what we hear each other say is frequently hilarious.                                                   And.                                                                                 I’m also discovering as I age, my filtering abilities sometimes slip.

Brenda and I went to Pacific Grove to celebrate our forty-first anniversary.

The beach was windy, so we ordered take-out. We parked our car along side the ocean to enjoy the scenery while we ate.

I ordered salmon. Brenda ordered chicken. I suggested we cut our meals in half to share each other’s meals.

I was both shocked and disappointed when Brenda said “No.”

What was shocking to the both of us was my reaction to her hard pass on sharing meals.

In a loud voice I said:

“KEEP YOUR DAMN CHICKEN!”

There was a long pause. 

Then Brenda and I spontaneously burst out laughing together. My filter slipping gave us our biggest laugh of the day!

We’ve mastered the ability to laugh at our imperfections. I can say from experience, that’s a whole lot better than fighting about them.


I never forget the period in my life, in the beginning of my journey with prostate cancer. I went for months without as much as a single laugh.

I’ll never forget how our laughter returned. Brenda showed me a Charlie Brown comic in which Charlie learned the secret to coping with life was learning to hate one day at a time.

The idea struck me as brilliant!! I was hating my life months and years into the future. 

The contrast between my coping and Charlie Brown’s coping struck me as hilarious. I roared with laughter. My sense of humor returned! 

When I felt called to write a book about our experiences I wanted to do something which I thought might not be possible. I wanted the title of a book about cancer to bring a smile or a laugh.

In other words, I wanted the healing process of laughter to begin as soon as someone looked at the cover of our book.

I prayed for weeks. The picture below, the cover of our book was the result of an answered prayer. I made sure the humor didn’t begin and end with the book cover.

A reader’s review said it best:

“With humor and candor, Rick tackles difficult to discuss topics such as living with a catheter, urinary incontinence, depression, erectile dysfunction, and penile rehab. 

In addition, there are informative chapters about how to share the news with others and how to cope with their reactions, what to expect during the process, why he opted for surgery, insurance questions, dealing with lack of sleep, returning to work, and more.”

If you’ve learned to laugh with cancer, and all the related issues mentioned above, your sense of humor is priceless.

If you’ve learned to laugh with your spouse, your marriage will go the distance.



Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Coping with Cancer During Advent 2021

In many ways for a variety of different reasons, 2020 and the start of 2021 has been a year of coping with the Coronavirus pandemic.


We’ve experienced  lockdowns, social isolation, and for many, economic hardships, .


Religiously, as Houses of Worship were closed, or severely limited in unprecedented ways.


Health wise, many folks died from Covid, many more from substance abuse, suicide, or untreated medical conditions.


You may be grieving the death of one or more of your friends and/or family members.


Last but not least, there’s coping with cancer. Dealing with stress, fear, physical issues, side effects, relational and sexual issues, as well as the prognosis you’ve received.


Then Advent comes around, and you’re expected to be joyful. Here’s where Advent expectations, and assumptions, have gone awry.


Who says we’re supposed to experience joy every waking minute of every day, during the four weeks of Advent? 


If you have that expectation, you’re sure to experience a disappointing Advent Season, filled with guilt and shame.


What if all your emotions of grief, sadness, disappointment, loneliness, and heartbreak, that occurred in 2020 became part of your Advent celebration? 


The good news is, IT CAN!


During Advent Week, it’s Biblical, expected, and appropriate for you to respond emotionally to all that occurred in 2020. The Bible tells us so!


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8~


Therefore, ALL of the feelings we have during Advent, become part of our Advent celebration.


That said, we have reasons to experience joy, in spite of the unwanted changes in our lives.


Our celebration of Advent is sandwiched between Jesus first and second coming. 


Our sources of joy for Advent come from the things Jesus accomplished in His first coming, and what He’ll accomplish in His second coming.


In His first coming we can rejoice because He came to:


1. To reveal the Father – “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matt. 11:27

2.   To be a ransom for many  – “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt.20:2 

3. To serve – “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20: a 28

4. To save the world  – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17Luke 19:1

5. To preach the good news of the kingdom of God  – “But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43

6. To do the will of the Father  – “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38

7. To give the Father’s words – “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” John 17:8

8. To testify to the truth – “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

9. To give life – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full . . . I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:10,

10. To atone for sin – “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” Heb. 2:17

11. To proclaim freedom for believers  – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18

12. To take away sin  – “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.” 1 John 3:5

13. To preach  – “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.'” Mark 1:38

14. To call sinners  – “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.‘” Mark 2:17

15. To know who is true  – “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

And this: 

“The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.

~ Jeremiah 31:31~ 

and it’s fulfillment:


In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

~ Luke 22:20~


In His second coming here’s what happens:


Evil is defeated, the earth is restored, and God wins. Your response to Jesus’ return depends on your relationship with Him. It will either be, as John MacArthur calls it, “the greatest calamity in all of human history” or the fulfillment of the Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13). Faith in Christ makes the difference. “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT).


My personal favorite is this:


Revelation 21:4 4'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no moredeath' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."


So looking back, and looking forward, we find reasons to experience joy during Advent, because all of these things were set into motion when a child was born in a manger.

Jesus Bucket List


Rick Redner & his wife Brenda Redner authored two award winning books, both available on Amazon. They are: 

I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours?


Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction & Penile Implants






Wednesday, December 9, 2020

What Prostate Cancer Took Away

I've lived as a prostate cancer survivor for ten years. During that time I've recognized that cancer took six things away:
*The illusion of my mortality.
•My future plans
•My sense of good health
•My financial safety net
•My status in the world- I no longer reside in the land of the healthy, I’m a cancer survivor who is reminded with yearly tests the cancer could return.

The last thing it took away was by far the worst. After double sparing nerve surgery, I was told I’d get back my erectile abilities.

Despite years of penile rehabilitation which went as far as penultimate injections, even that stopped working.

I never realized how much of my sense of being a man was linked to my erectile abilities, until I no longer felt like a man.

I was so ashamed, that I avoided all physical signs of affection because they all reminded me that I was impotent.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but the loss of all physical affection was a deeper disappointment and wound to my wife, than my losing my erectile abilities.

Both of us became angry and frustrated. Our marital tension and fighting became unbearable. In a way I was relieved, because this was in my mind confirmation that my wife would be better off without me. 

I wanted her to divorce me and remarry to a fully functioning man. I was convinced I was too flawed to expect my wife to say with me until death do us part.

At this point, I’ve heard from many men whose wife left them. Whether it was a result of erectile dysfunction or not, I assumed it was.

Since my first marriage ended in divorce after discovering that my wife cheated on me (when I was fully sexually functional) I thought it would be impossible for my wife to remain faithful while I was impotent. I wanted her to leave me before the inevitable affair.

Little did I know, or believe at the time, my wife took her wedding vows seriously and literally. She was in for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

To preserve our marriage we went into counseling. We began treating each other with respect and kindness. (Made easier because I wasn’t trying to tick my wife off so she would leave me.)

We found ways to have a mutually satisfying sex life. I had no idea a man with erectile dysfunction could experience an orgasm. Not as good or intense as before. 

This meant I experienced disappointment and grief after every orgasm. It took me a while to adjust to the new normal.

I never stopped missing the physical and emotional oneness that comes from intercourse. 
Which is why I decided to research penile implant surgery.

I decided to go for implant surgery. It was one of the best decisions in my life. Both my wife and I wouldn’t trade our sex life in our 20’s for our sex life in our 60’s. Meaning sex is better now than at any other time in our forty year marriage. 

We got back what prostate cancer took away.

We decided to write what would become an award winning book for folks who want to preserve their relationship, survive erectile dysfunction, and/or have penile implant surgery.
The title of our book is:


Read the reviews. This book will change the way men and couples cope with erectile dysfunction.










Why Cancer Survivors Don't Need New Year's Resolutions

How many of your 2018 New Year's resolutions have you broken so far? For me, the answer is zero. My failure rate in completing New Year's resolutions was awful, so I stopped making resolutions.

I'm not alone in my inability to keep new years resolutions. According to one news report, "Research shows that 25 percent of people abandon their resolution in just the first week and 60 percent abandon them in six months."

My success rate in setting New Year’s goals was much higher. I was curious why I couldn’t keep a New Year’s resolution, but I could achieve New Year’s goals. I googled the topic. To my surprise, there were dozens of articles to choose from. Apparently, a New Year's resolution is a wish. Setting a goal involves making a plan. Those of us who are cancer survivors need specific plans rather than wishes.

For some of us, the plans involve continuing the fight against prostate cancer with additional aggressive treatment. For those who've completed their treatment, quality-of-life issues often exist, such as bladder or bowel problems, or erectile dysfunction, which profoundly affects our self-esteem and intimate relationships.

To cope successfully, we need to learn new ways to live with the post-treatment side effects. This doesn't come naturally. It takes time, effort, information gathering, and support. For some issues, medical intervention or surgery is required. For all of us with prostate cancer, our plans should include at least one (and more than one for others) PSA check during the new year.

Every PSA check is a vivid reminder that our cancer could return. Recurrence anxiety is something the majority of cancer survivors experience at one time or another. The good news is there are ways to reduce your recurrence anxiety.

If you've made New Year's resolutions in order to navigate the challenges of living with cancer, they're likely to fail. The goals you set are more likely to succeed. For a successful year, setting specific goals for your set of circumstances, challenges, and opportunities plays an important role.

Following are a few of my goals I successfully carried out in my seven years as a prostate cancer survivor.

Work less

I was able to cut my time at work by two days, giving me four days a week at home. I did spend some of that time working at home.

Travel more

My wife and I purchased an RV. We plan to spend time with and without our grown children camping. Our recent trip to Yellowstone was a highlight event in my life in 2017. I'm planning a cross-country prostate cancer survivor information and book tour after I retire.

Ending my time living with erectile dysfunction

By undergoing penile implant surgery. Ending my four-year journey with erectile dysfunction and getting back what treating prostate cancer took away was not only a highlight of that year, it was a highlight of my life!

Write a book

My book was for men and couples living without a prostate. It was never in my life plan to write a book about life before, during, and after prostate surgery. Yet, I was so frustrated and angry about the lack of information, my wife and I wrote this book. At the time, I thought this was my first and last book.

Write a second book

Four years after a successful double nerve-sparing prostate surgery, I was told I'd be impotent for the rest of my life. I was needlessly devastated. Months later, I read about penile implant surgery. When I called the physician who told me I'd be impotent the rest of my life, I discovered he was a penile implant surgeon! My wife and I now enjoy the best sex of our 37-year marriage. We decided to write a second book to get the word out about living with erectile dysfunction or regaining erectile functioning through surgery.

Write articles

So far, I've written more than 50 for Prostate Cancer News Today!

Take care of my health

In addition to my yearly physical and a PSA test, I'm going for a colonoscopy this month.

Make time with family a priority

Since my prostate cancer diagnosis, I've been blessed with three granddaughters. Three of our children live in California. The fourth lives in Illinois.
My wife and I have flown to Illinois multiple times to visit our son, his wife, and newborn granddaughter. Each year, we look for opportunities to create lasting memories.

Grow in faith

My cancer journey is a faith-based mission, with the goal of reaching thousands of men and couples coping with cancer.
There are hundreds of articles written to help you create successful and doable goals. Here's a link to five golden rules.

As the new year begins, I encourage you to develop specific goals for 2018.
Note: This article appeared in Prostate Cancer News Today 

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:






 

Crawling to the Finish Line

Most of my friends, family, and acquaintances, who were diagnosed with different forms of cancer died within a year of their initial diagnosis. That's the reason I thought my diagnosis of prostate cancer was a death sentence.

It wasn't long before I had an inventory of events I wouldn't long enough to see. Here's a few items on that list:
1. Meeting my first grandchild- I've met three!
2. Celebrating my 35th wedding anniversary-I recently celebrated my 38th anniversary.
3. Walking my daughter down the aisle-That's a year or two away.
4. Retirement-A few days away!

Since my prostate was removed I have had carpel tunnel surgery, a rotator cuff repaired, and penile implant surgery, My gallbladder was removed. I've been through physical therapy and three spinal injections to treat disabling back pain.

In my first year of retirement, I'm expecting cataract surgery, neural ablation, and another shoulder surgery. Chronic pain, sleepless nights, limited mobility, and a drastic decrease in my level of energy wasn't in my life plan for retirement.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm extremely grateful I've lived long enough to retire, but it's not what I expected. I imagined hitting the finish line in a track outfit and fancy running shoes. Instead, I'm hobbling to the finish line, sometimes on my hands and knees. I feel I have the energy of someone one hundred years old.

On the second week before my retirement I experienced a six day episode of chronic diarrhea. This meant I was in the bathroom multiple times per hour around the clock. I lost twelve pounds in five days. I felt so weak I didn't want to get off the couch. I was a prisoner in my own home.

I felt terrible for my wife

Two years ago I purchased an RV. I put a cross country RV trip on my bucket list.

I'm exercising, changing my diet  and losing weight. I'm frustrated beyond words when all I want to do is crash on the couch.  

It feels as though my world is getting smaller at a time when I thought it would expand.

Life is like that. Much of what we hoped for, dreamed of, and planned for may never come to pass. I survived prostate cancer, then waves of other illnesses and diseases strike.

Update 1 year later:
Another neural ablation, and another carpel tunnel surgery BUT before those hit my wife and I had an amazing opportunity to take an RV trip to visit family in Illinois.

With the COVID epidemic rampant we can’t fly to see the birth of our grandson, but it looks like I’ll be healthy enough for another RV trip from CA to Illinois. I made it to the finish line!










Links




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:




Fear-The Untreated Side Effect of Cancer

As I look back on my eight year journey with prostate cancer I realize there's one side effect of cancer that's usually ignored, unspoken, and hardly ever treated. Those diagnosed with cancer are usually left to deal with one of the most common, and life altering symptoms, by themselves, without help, or treatment.

I'm referring to FEAR- An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief  that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause pain or a life-altering threat.

Fear has an immediate impact on our body, our emotions, our thoughts, our relationships, our ability to sleep, our mood, our decision making process, how we function at work, at home, and everything we do. Fear has a major impact on our ability to take care of ourselves and others. Fear impacts our ability to give and receive affection. Fear impacts our ability to relate to friends and family. Fear impacts our sexuality and sex life. Fear impacts our sense of well-being and health.

The fear generated by a diagnosis of cancer is so powerful that according to an artcle in the
Boston Globe:
"Roughly 1 in 5 cancer patients developed post-traumatic stress disorder within six months of their diagnosis — and a small percentage still experienced trauma-related symptoms six years later, according to new research."

How can you know if you’re among those who are coping with Post-Traumatic Stress?According to an article on cancer.net, here's a list of nine symptoms
are some of the symptoms of PTSD.