Monday, December 22, 2014

Fearful or Soul Refreshing Waiting-The Choice is Yours

Waiting is often period of pause or unwanted delay. I recently heard from a man diagnosed with prostate cancer. His surgery is scheduled ten days after Christmas. He wrote that he couldn't even think about the Holiday Season much less enjoy it because his thoughts are focused on his up and coming surgery.

I'd be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time I missed the opportunity to enjoy the present because my mind was focused on some worry, concern, task, or an event imaginary or real that I anticipated would occur at some point in the future.

As I write this blog, I originally planned to have a surgery for a penile implant in early January. Unfortunately,  my surgeon was involved in an accident that required his hospitalization. As a result, my surgery could be pushed back until March. This is an unwanted delay that  increases the amount of time I'll be living with erectile dysfunction, a chapter in my life I'd like to close as quickly as possible.

The challenge before me is: How will I wait?  My temptation and habit  is do exactly what the man who's waiting for his surgery is doing. His mind, his relationships, his capacity to experience love, joy, and excitement have all been placed on hold. He's checked out of living in the present, therefore he can't experience the joys that each moment can bring.  His attention is focused on his surgery date. Therefore his feelings and attention are locked into all the anxiety and fear associated with his surgery. It would take no effort on my part to wait in a similar fashion.

Waiting associated with the diagnosis and treatment for cancer has the potential to become a never ending journey into the future. I've been there. First you wait for your biopsy results, then your surgery date. After that wait for your post-surgery biopsy results. Then you wait for the day your catheter is pulled. The next journey into the future is living for the day you no longer need diapers, then comes your first post-surgery PSA test, Three months later there's another one. Then you've got a year, two or three to wait to see whether or not your erectile abilities return. Four years later, I find myself waiting for another prostate cancer related surgery

There will always be something cancer related that can  propel you into the future, thus robbing you of all the potential happiness, joy and love available to you in the present moment..
There's one important stop gap for me. It's the Advent Season. It's the time I spend focusing on my spiritual life and the joy of  the coming birth of my Lord and Savior-Jesus. I don't want to miss out on  the joy of the Christmas. I don't want to be so focused on my up and coming surgery, that my mind is else where when I'm  in the presence of all my kids and their wives. Thankfully, I've discovered a healthy alternative to losing the present by living in the future with anxious anticipation.

It involves trusting God and experiencing one day at a time, with the knowledge and belief all things will happen according to God's plan. If you wait believing that you are waiting for future events to occur in God's timing, your time spent waiting can become a time for refreshment for your soul.  This process is described in   Isa 40:28-31
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
 But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Learning to wait on the Lord requires, first and foremost a belief that He exists. It also involves developing a sense of trust in His timing rather than your own. If it were up to me, I would have had my surgery yesterday or tomorrow.  I'd prefer to end the era of  coping with ED yesterday, rather than waiting for an unknown date in the future.

This unwanted and unanticipated wait  for my implant surgery give me the opportunity to practice this new skill of waiting on the Lord. Sometimes I catch myself spending too much thinking about the surgery. Learning to wait in a new way doesn't happen over night. It takes practice, time, discipline, faith and trust.

 It's a worthy goal to change the way I wait. I'm enjoying the fruit of this process during the Advent Season. If you're like me and have a history of waiting in such a way that takes away your joy of  living in the moment, use your next experience with waiting to learn a new skill, Learn how to wait on the Lord.

Rick Redner is the author of I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where's Yours?
He's written more than one hundred blogs about prostate cancer.
You can visit his Pre & Post Prostate Surgery Forums at: Forums

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How You Talk to Yourself About Cancer Makes a Difference in How You Cope

Every day since I was dx with prostate cancer 4 years ago, I'm reminded that I'm a cancer survivor not once but multiple times throughout each day. Some are very pleasant reminders. Every night I sleep through the night it's a pleasant reminder I'm doing so because I no longer live with an enlarged prostate. The nights of waking up 3-5 times to use the bathroom have come to end.  The benefit of uninterrupted sleep is that I think, feel and act much better than I did with interrupted sleep.

 In the bedroom the reminder isn't as pleasant. There I'm reminded of two painful losses. I miss the pleasure of ejaculation, and I miss the ability to maintain an erection. I've had to grieve these losses before I was able to embrace a new and very satisfying sex life. Someone posted this comment of my Facebook Page:
 "Dead men don't have sex"  which is obviously true. I've slowly learned to be grateful and enjoy what I'm able to enjoy.

Everyday I must empty my bladder frequently so an expected laugh or sneeze won't result in my leaking a large volume of urine. This never ending diligence is a constant reminder I'm that I'm living without my prostate. I remember what my life was like when I was in diapers going through 15 of them each day. I've come a long way! Frequent trips to the bathroom are a very small price to pay in order to stay dry. Each and every time I empty my bladder I feel true gratitude that I am a cancer survivor who regained control of his bladder.
I've come to the conclusion that how we think and talk to ourselves about our reminders that we are cancer survivors determines how well or how poorly we will cope with life as a cancer survivor.

If you want to read my book about coping with Prostate Cancer you can buy it here:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
By Rick Redner & Brenda Redner.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Meaning We Gain From Numbering Our Days & Facing Our Mortality

My concept of dying has changed during the journey from being a child to becoming a senior citizen and grandparent to be.  I don't remember how young I was when I realized my parents were not immortal and it was within the realm of possibility they'd die while I was a child. In my younger childhood years death frightening uncontrollable force that snatched love ones away from you permanently. I was so afraid of death my father decided to do something about it. He wanted me to talk to the tooth fairly who knew that he and my mother would live a long time. He dialed the phone and handed it to me. The female who answered the phone  introduced herself as the tooth fairy. She asked what was frightening me and I told her I was scared my parents would die while I was a child. She proceeded to tell me she knew for a fact that both parents would live a long time and that I had nothing to worry about.

My father's plan to ease my fears backfired. At the time I had serious doubts about the existence of the tooth fairly. I wondered which of his friends he'd called to set up this trick. I became convinced  my fears were spot on, and perhaps death was even more frightening than I originally thought, because the topic resulted in my father lying to me rather than speaking the truth.  I spent a good deal of my childhood frighted about death and dying.

Then came adolescence. My fear of death gave way to youth's universal illusion of immortality. The fact some older family members died during this time did not bring back my fear of death and dying. I was convinced death might touch others, but it was of no concern to me. Losing the fear of my death allowed me live recklessly. I took way too many chances. Looking back, I feel very blessed I managed to survive that decade of my life in spite of the death defying risks I took. 

The combination of getting married and starting a family took me off the path of  recklessness. I began the era of taking taking my health seriously. I wanted to do all I could to make sure I'd be around for family milestones ranging from the first day of school all the way to walking my daughter down the aisle.  My attitude toward dying in phase of my life transformed from youth's universal illusion of immortality to something I can avoid/postpone with the proper diet and exercise.

My illusion that I had the ability to postpone the time of my death was shattered when at age 58 I received the news I had prostate cancer.  It was then, I came to the frightening reality that I have little control over the time of my own death. For me, cancer came like a thief in the night to steal my good health.
I didn't think so at the time, but I've since changed my mind; it's good to have the reminder my time on earth is limited. Experiencing this reality on a personal level changed my life.

The Bible has something to say about living with the reality that our time on earth is limited. Here's the verse:
Ps 90:12
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Here's some wisdom I've gained as I've learned to count the number my days. I've learned the importance of friends and family. It's all to easy to sacrifice both in pursuit of financial gain or my own personal interests. I've learned the importance of forgiveness.  I've experienced decades of the disruption of important family relationships due to forgiveness. I've resolved to be thee first one to forgive, and to be the one who takes the first steps to restore broken relationships. I've also learned you can't reconcile any relationship if one party is unwilling to forgive. It takes two to reconcile. I've learned to become less dependent on work as the source of my identity. I'm working less and spending more of my free time with friends and family. I'm traveling more and taking more trips with my wife and my family. I've stopped waiting to retire to travel and have fun with both my wife and family. Last but not least, I've learned the futility and joy killing power of worry.  The best way to ruin your life today is to worry about tomorrow. I'm practicing living in the moment. I never realized how easy it is for me to live in the past or in the future losing out on the joy that's right in front of me in the present. 

I'm surprised the anxiety that came with the diagnosis of cancer was transformed into something positive as I've learned to number my days. It demonstrates to me whether or not you believe in God, the wisdom that's contained in the Bible can be found in no other book. If your life needs transformation, I suggest picking up a Bible and reading it. Start with the book of  Proverbs. There's no reason to allow cancer or the effects of treatment to rob you of the joy of living and loving.

Rick Redner is the author of the award winning book:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

This is my 100th blog about prostate cancer!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Penile Implants-The Difference Between Vanity vs Sanity

I recently heard from a widow. Her husband had prostate cancer, but that's not what he died from. To treat his prostate cancer he chose the surgical option. Like many men before him he believed robotic surgery would allow him the opportunity to regain erectile functioning. That didn't happen for him.
As the years went by he became increasingly withdrawn and depressed coping with ED. He began drinking heavily to medicate his pain. On his 7th year post-surgery he committed suicide. I can't help but wonder if anyone ever spoke with him about the option to get a penile implant.

I recently posted information about penile implants on a prostate cancer forum. I was shocked when a woman created a post to mock that option calling it a "cosmetic surgery" meaning the motivation for an implant comes as a result of vanity.

If a woman wants to increase the size of her breasts or man wants to increase the length or girth of his penis, that's cosmetic surgery. If a woman chooses breast reconstruction after a mastectomy that's not a decision based on vanity, that's a decision to be made whole again and get back something that cancer took away.

 In the very same way if man chooses an implant after suffering from ED after cancer treatments that's considered a restorative surgery. Why does this matter? Most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic surgery. Medicare and most private insurance companies will cover restorative surgery. Therefore, penile implants are a covered procedure for most men coping with ED after treatment for prostate cancer.That's the good news. 

Here's the bad news. Of all the ways to treat ED; the vacuum pump, muse, injections, medication and surgery, penile implants is the least chosen option among men coping with ED. The irony here is this, penile implants have the highest satisfaction rate among men coping with ED. 
Here's informational link which contains an interview with a man who chose this option. It's a worthwhile read:
Information & An Interview

If you've been coping with ED for more than one year after treatment for prostate cancer don't wait for your Urologist or Surgeon to discuss this issue with you, bring it up with them. If they don't have experience with an implant ask for a referral with a Doctor who is experienced with penile implant surgery.

Erectile Dysfunction can destroy a man's sense of being a man and have devastating effects ranging from  depression, emotional & physical withdrawal from a relationship, to substance abuse or suicide.
A penile implant can give you back what cancer has taken away, the possibility for enjoyable intercourse with your partner. Don't give in to despair and don't give up hope. Seriously explore this option.

If you want to read my book about coping with prostate cancer, here's a link to read a few pages at no charge:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Rick Redner

Brenda Redner 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ten Tips For Coping With Cancer During The Holidays

In the month of November, Hallmark began the countdown to Christmas with special holiday movies. I skip all the movies about Santa or elves saving Christmas, but I'm a sucker for all the movies about about a single, widowed or divorced parent finding love during the holiday season.  I'm not ashamed to admit I enjoy stories with happily ever after endings.

Hollywood is on board helping to create the notion that good things are supposed to happen during the holidays. As much as I want that to be true, every year I'm reminded that pain, suffering, illness injury, disease and death do not take holiday breaks.

In 1976 the duo Simon & Garfunkel composed the song 7'OClock News/Silent Night which brilliantly deals with the disparity between what we hope for the Holidays and how the reality of the days news show us the futility of wishing for a Hallmark Christmas in a broken world.

Deep within our hearts there is a strong desire to experience a Hallmark Holiday. That's the reason  why I believe suffering of any kind during the holidays is amplified and felt more intensely.

There are a number of places you can be in your journey with cancer:
1. Newly Diagnosed
2. Waiting for treatment-surgery, radiation, hormone therapy etc
3. Coping with the physical effects of treatment-loss of libido, urinary control, erectile dysfunction, etc
4. Coping with the emotional component of coping with cancer, things like anxiety, fear, sadness, loss, depression, etc
5. Coping with the relational changes brought about by a diagnosis of cancer, Your relationship with friends, family, and/or your partner may be negatively affected as a result of the diagnosis or treatment of cancer.

Any one of these circumstances has the potential to drain you'd like to experience during this season. There are some attitudes and behaviors that could take away the joy you'd like to experience:

Joy Killers:
1. Cling to the expectation you deserve a Hallmark Holiday and rage against your current circumstances.
2. Try not to think about your current reality-This is a great way to become obsessed with your current circumstances.
3.Withdraw from friends and family
4. Use alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings.
5. Judge yourself harshly because you don't feel the way you want to during this season.

Here's a few things you can do to make the holidays better.
Joy Enhancers:
1. Treat yourself and others in your life with kindness, compassion, tenderness and love.
2. Take time to acknowledge and grieve the losses you face this year as a result of cancer.
3. Don't push yourself or expect to do everything you are accustom to doing. For example you might not be physically or emotionally ready to go to the office Christmas Party or drive/fly long distances to be with family.
4. Limit your activities to a few things you'll truly enjoy.
5. Spend time with the people you love.
6. If you are able, doing something nice for someone in need.
7. Develop new holiday traditions you are able to enjoy
8. Spend time each day counting your blessings to enable you to develop an attitude of daily gratitude.
9. Draw strength from your faith.
10. If you do not believe in God-now is a good time to question that assumption.

Here's a few links to relevant articles:
Tis the Season for Coping With Cancer
Coping With Cancer During the Holidays
Cancer & the Holidays
Ten Tips for Coping With Cancer During the Holidays

The next two are Christian faith-based books
The Case for Christ
The Case For Christmas

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner are the authors of:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why Live With Erectile Dysfunction After Your Prostatectomy??

Almost 4 years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After much thought, research and prayers my wife and I agreed that robotic surgery was the best way to treat my cancer. I was referred to UCSF. My surgeon was in the top of the field of physicians who perform robotic surgery. Both before and after my double nerve sparing surgery I was assured I'd regain my sexual functioning.
I didn't know how long that would take until I listened to the following video by ,Dr Mulhall on Penile Rehab. This is a video every man considering prostate surgery should watch.

I wanted to do everything possible to insure nerve bundle healing. Therefore,  I used ED meds before and after surgery. After surgery,  I used the vacuum pump and later performed penile injections until the medication stopped working. At the end of two years,  my success with obtaining erections hovered around 50-60% so we had reason to hope my response rate would improve. . I continued using ED medication for another 1.5 years with my success rate dropping slowly over time. Soon my success rate with ED medication dropped to less than 1%.  I saw no point in using medication that wasn't working so we went for another consult at UCSF.

My Specialist told me the period for healing was over and what I'd left is where I'd landed post surgery. He did have two plans with regard to dosage and frequency of taking ED medication which might improve my success rate. I tried plan A first hoping it would work. After 3 unsuccessful months we went  back to try plan B. Once again after 3 unsuccessful months Plan B hadn't worked either.

After 3.5 years post-surgery it became very clear to us that our hopes to regain my erectile functioning were dashed. My relationship with myself and my wife suffered greatly during this period of time. I went though many months of severe depression as I thought I'd lost my manhood. At the time, my  manhood was narrowly defined as my erectile abilities. I shut my wife out physically and emotionally. Kissing, hugging, holding hands, back rubs, all affectionate  physical contact stopped. I wanted no reminders of what I'd lost. I became too depressed to care about my wife's reaction to all that she lost during much of this time.

It took a great deal of time, effort and intentionality to begin the process of working my way back to Brenda both emotionally and physically. My depression lifted as I grieved my losses and began to accept life, relational living and sex without a prostate, we began to make the best of the transition from impotence to healing. Now I was faced with the a new reality, there'd be no healing.

I felt like a man on trial. I was found guilty and my sentence was more than I could bare-I'd spend the rest of my life impotent.  After all the time and effort with penile rehab, my hopes for recovery were dashed. Once again I felt myself sinking into despair, hopelessness and depression. When I went for surgery, I didn't sign up for a life time of impotence. I was also frustrated and angry that all the time and effort we'd put in to penile rehab failed to bring about the expected healing we both wanted.

While Brenda was in Vermont visiting our oldest son, the idea of a penile implant came to me. From my perspective that idea was a gift from the Lord. After doing research, and contacting men on-line who had an implant, I decided I wanted to go that route. Once again we drove to UCSF and met with our Specialist. He agreed I was an excellent candidate for an implant. We discussed the various types. I decided on the 3 piece implant. Now we are waiting for my insurance to approve this procedure. Once that comes in, I'm planning to have the surgery in the second week of January 2015.

I'm no longer angry about the failed time and effort we put into penile rehab. I have a certain peace knowing I've landed where I did doing everything possible, rather then landing here because I was ignorant about the concept of penile rehab. I fought the good fight. I didn't land where we'd hoped and expected I would, BUT we are blessed to live in an era and in a country where penile implants are an option.

I know many men who are so angry and bitter about their impotence, their attitude is "I won't let another surgeon come within a mile of me." I certainly understand why they feel that way, yet  their attitude sentences them to a lifetime of impotence, anger and bitterness. I hope all men struggling with impotence will consider this option. I'll be posting more about implants after my surgery.
If you'd like more information about this procedure check out this link:
Treating ED with Implants

Rick Redner
Author of:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cancer & Bitterness- A Deadly Combination

Cancer-is defined by the National Cancer Institute as a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. There are millions of cancer survivors living in the United States. 

Bitterness- Intense feelings of anger, hostility, frustration that doesn't go away. In fact these feelings may grow in intensity over time. There are no statistics that track the number of bitter people living in the United States but there millions of bitter people out there. Some of them are physically healthy, others have cancer. 

If  I were to ask you the following question: Would you like to be remembered as someone who actively worked to destroy every meaningful relationship you had? I hope your answer would be no. Here's the issue, for some people the answer is no but their behavior says yes. If you've been living with unresolved bitterness, some or all of these things could happen to you, bitterness will:

* Take away of your peace and joy
* Permanently split and  alienate family members from one another
* Permanently damage friendships
* Destroy your capacity to love
* End your marriage
* Ruin your life and the lives of everyone in your sphere of influence
* Distance you from God
* Make it impossible for you to experience God's love and forgiveness
* Destroy your ability to forgive anyone

What happens when cancer and bitterness join forces? It produces toxic waste that effects everyone in your life. You could be totally unaware your bitterness is poisoning every one of your relationships.. Alienation from children, broken relationships, divorce, isolation, loneliness alcohol or substance abuse are all by products of  bitterness.

How do you know if you are suffering from bitterness?  People who are bitter nurse and rehearse hurts, disappointments, and  perceived betrayals, over and over in their minds.You may feel your bitterness is justified because you're angry about living with cancer, or angry about you've lost as a result of treating your cancer. You may feel angry with the physicians who treated you or the medical establishment. What you don't realize is bitterness will  destroy your most important relationships. Haven't we all lost enough living with cancer? 

There is good news. It is possible to overcome bitterness and to restore broken relationships. I hope and pray that a diagnosis of cancer places a sense of urgency in your heart to take care of the root and fruit of bitterness in your life.  Your impact on your friends and family, how you will be remembered, and your legacy is in your hands. The choice is yours. You can hold on to your bitterness or take the journey of toward peace, forgiveness and love. If your interested in that path you can start your journey by reading the following links:

Overcoming Bitterness

5 Steps For Healing Hurt

What To Do When Bitterness Won't Go Away

Draining Bitterness From Your Marriage


Eph 4:31
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice (NKJV)


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coping With Erectile Dysfunction

According to a survey on my website 46% of the more than three hundred men who participated identified erectile dysfunction as the worst life change following surgery. Erectile Dysfunction following double nerve sparing surgery can be temporary or permanent. It extremely important that men get involved with a penile rehab program shortly after their catheter is removed.

This video by Doctor Mulhall provides important information for every man who wants to take the necessary steps in order to preserve erectile functioning following surgery. After listening to Doctor Mulhall describe the consequences of developing a venous leak (impotence) I feared venous leak as much as I did prostate cancer. I made a vow to do everything in power to prevent a venous leak.

I wasn't too happy to learn that penile injections were necessary for men who were not responding to ED medications. Determined to preserve erectile functioning I learned how to perform these injections. They were effective in helping me achieve a usable erection and my wife and I were able to resume our sexual relationship. After three months injections stopped working.

From there I tried a variety of medications at differing doses hoping I'd recover some erectile functioning. We had some success, but many more failures. My confidence in my abilities plummeted to zero. Rather than suffer the humiliation of  my inability to obtain an erection,  I began to avoid all physical contact with my wife. I carefully avoided kissing, holding hands, and using touch to expression affection. I didn't want anything to remind me that I was impotent. Since my sex drive commonly referred to as libido dropped to zero, it took no effort  to avoid all expressions of physical affection and all forms of sex. I sunk into a deep and dark depression.

Men who are depressed can become very irritable or angry. There can be a significant increase in fighting and marital tension. Men often self medicate their pain with drugs, alcohol or pornography.
My "drug of choice" was food. I watched TV for hours as a way of distracting myself from the pain, shame, and humiliation I felt as a result of ED.

It took more than a year for me to grieve my losses Once I began to do that I was ready, willing and able to find new ways my wife and I could satisfy each other without my having an erection. We were quite successful and we both enjoyed our sexuality.

Three years post surgery I found myself thinking about the possibility of a penile implant. I have a consultation with a surgeon in November. While I'm waiting for that appointment I'm reading  about and talking to men who've  had the procedure. From the comments I've received and the scientific literature I've reviewed, of all the different ways to treat ED, there is the most satisfaction among men who've chosen implants to treat ED.

In the next few blogs I'll be sharing what I've learned and what I decide with regard to going through with this surgery. I believe it's time to take back what cancer and surgery have taken away.

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.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Men Choose Unnecessarily Aggressive Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Here's a very easy and visual way to understand why too many men are choosing unnecessarily aggressive treatments for prostate cancer. When your Doctor is discussing your prostate cancer his image of your cancer looks something like this:

The picture above also represents the image your Doctor thinks you have of your cancer. In my case, perhaps in yours, his assumption was highly inaccurate. Unfortunately, no one takes the time to understand each others pictures. Here's something like the image I had in my mind as my Urologist told me about my prostate cancer.

 I imagined millions of these guys chopping away at the lining of my prostate 24/7 with the mindless goal of creating a microscopic hole in my prostate. This would allow legions of these cells to migrate into various parts of my body. Once they accomplished their easily achievable goal of creating a microscopic hole in the lining of my prostate, my fate was sealed. In the not too distant future I'd die of prostate cancer.

I spent way too many sleepless nights wondering each night if this would be the night the army of cancer cells in my prostate created the microscopic hole they needed in order to establish new headquarters throughout my body. We were at war, except I wasn't doing anything to defend myself, my body and my life, while my enemy was working 24/7 to kill me.

If that wasn't enough to generate overwhelming anxiety, I was flooded with the memories of everyone I ever knew who died from cancer. It was a very long list!  Some of those on the list died very quickly. Others suffered for many months as cancer ravaged their bodies.

By the time you're old enough to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, all of us have our own awful and frightening memories of those we knew and loved who died of cancer. These memories and experiences help shape our fear and our decision making process about how to treat our cancer.

The fear you feel combined with your past experiences with cancer motivates and compels you to make the decision to fight your cancer in the most most aggressive ways possible.

I believe men and their partners need to spend a minimum of  hour with a Health Care Specialist after they are given the news they have prostate cancer. We need help to separate  our fear and our past experiences with cancer. If you do not take the time to do this, you'll probably make a fear based treatment choice.

What's unique about prostate cancer is this: Your cancer could be aggressive, which means an aggressive treatment is appropriate. It could be a very slow growing cancer that would not effect you in any way for decades into the future. Read the previous sentence again. There is such a thing as a slow growing cancer that is NOT life threatening!

The worst thing you can do is to make the decision to go through an unnecessarily aggressive form of treatment based upon your fears about cancer. If you've been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, take time to:

1, Process your past experiences with cancer. Deal with those fears before projecting them into your current situation. It's possible to have prostate cancer without needing to fear anything.

2, Learn more about the type of cancer you have and whether or not you dealing with a cancer that requires aggressive treatment. You may be one of those fortunate men diagnosed with prostate cancer who can go for decades with active surveillance.

So my best advice is this: Make your treatment decision based on your diagnosis rather than your fear about cancer,  If you are considering the robotic surgical option to treat PC or you'd like additional information about the emotional, relational, sexual and spiritual aspects of prostate cancer, check out my book by clicking HERE

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Do You Want Cancer To Change You & Your Relationships?

A few years ago I met a man who had surgery to treat his prostate cancer. Fortunately for him his cancer was confined to his prostate. Unfortunately for his wife and family, he came out of surgery with a sense of entitlement. He was now a cancer survivor who came face to face with the reality that his time on earth was limited.  He decided he wanted to the time he had left to live in the selfish pursuit of pleasure. (selfish was his word, not mine) The first thing on his on his bucket list of things to do was to leave his wife and children. They were a responsibility and he was done with responsibilities.

Another man I knew with PC was suffering from ED following surgery. His wife was turned off by his need for penile injections. Rather than work out a solution, they stopped having sex. Not long afterward he found a girlfriend who was turned on by penile injections, So much so that she wanted to be the one to give him his injections. This man felt he'd met his soul mate.  He knew a divorce would disrupt this relationship with his children and grandchildren, so he decided he'd let his marriage decline, while he enjoyed his relationship with his girlfriend, children, and grandchildren.

Both men were cured of cancer. One abandoned his wife and children in the pursuit of selfish pleasure.  The other decided to become a liar and an adulterer. I suspect at some point in the future he'd get caught and/or end his marriage.  On a survey on  my Website I ask the question: How has surgery effected your relationship with your partner? Forty-eight percent say they grew closer.

I want to be in the 48% club! I want the people  who know me to say "Rick's grown kinder, more compassionate, more loving and generous. We've grown closer since his diagnosis."

This didn't automatically happen because I wished it to be true. Coping with cancer and the aftermath of treatment is a very difficult journey. At times my marriage was stressed to the max. There were times when I was so depressed that I withdrew from everyone I loved.

Coping with cancer is a journey. In my next blog I'll share what I believe you need in order to become a member of the 48% club. My wife & I wrote our book: I Left My Prostate In San Francisco Where's Yours? Coping With The Emotional, Relational. Sexual & Spiritual Aspects of Prostate Cancer  in order to help couples make it into the 48% club.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Doctor's Won't Tell You About Cancer

Approximately 40.4 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with all cancer sites at some point during their lifetime, based on 2009-2011 data.  In a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, 476 people who received a diagnosis of cancer participated in a survey. Some of those findings suggest the way we receive this devastating news is in need of serious repair.

The authors reported that a little over half the patients were told their diagnoses in their doctor's office, 18% over the phone, and 28% in the hospital. 44% of the conversations lasted less than 10 minutes, and 53% lasted more than 10 minutes. In about 31% of the conversations, no treatment plan was discussed. It is no surprise to anyone that patients were more satisfied with the experience-if you can say that you can be satisfied with hearing you have cancer--with in person discussions rather than by telephone, with longer time and with an explanation of treatment options.

  • 39% of the patients were alone when told of their cancer diagnosis.
  • 8% of the patients had a less than 1 minute conversation about their diagnoses. 36% said the conversation lasted between 1 and 10 minutes.
  • 15% of the patients lost trust in their physician as a result of the conversation, based on poor communication and general dissatisfaction.
These statistics show how broken the medical system is with regard to how men and woman receive the news they have cancer. The fact that 39% received the news when they were alone is inexcusable. Also alarming is the fact 15% of  those in the study lost trust in their physicians as a result of the way in which the news as provided.  Based on the responses  I've received so far from men with PC, I believe this number may be lower for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

That said, what seems to be missing for the overwhelming people who receive a diagnosis of cancer is this important fact:
Coping with cancer has both a medical component and an emotional component. After I received the diagnosis of prostate cancer, fear and anxiety became my constant companions as well as many sleepless nights.  No one ever discussed the emotional component of coping with the diagnosis of prostate cancer. No one ever suggested I seek other men further along in the journey to help me in this process of coping with prostate cancer. I felt isolated and alone. 

That's the reason my wife and I wrote our book, We wanted to offer men and couples the information and help they didn't receive at the time they were given the news. 
Check it out on
I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where's Yours?
Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Sexual & Spiritual Aspects of Prostate Cancer.

The book provides you the information you and your partner need to cope with prostate cancer. Don't take my word for it,  Here's what a reader said about our book.

The Redner's have combined their efforts to provide a very thorough and insightful overview of a broad spectrum of the emotional, physical, and spiritual experiences that make up the beginnings of the "cancer journey" as viewed from both the patient's and caregiver's standpoints. (I wish this had been available to me when I received my diagnosis and began treatments in 2009!) Many of the subjects they write about were never discussed with us by my doctors - and should have been! And, much of the advice they offer regarding their experiences I've not seen or read about in any other source

The majority of people who receive a diagnosis of cancer find it to be a traumatic and life changing event. My wife and I offer the information and support regarding the emotional, relational, sexual and spiritual  aspects of prostate cancer, If you are coping with cancer of any kind, it's worth checking out this book.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Receiving The News You Have Cancer

I came across a study from the National Cancer Institute about the ways in which the news was given to those with cancer. Here's the results:
 437 patients surveyed had been referred for treatment. The researchers asked them how they learned of their diagnosis, what the doctors told them at the time they received the news, where they were located when they had the conversation, and how long the conversation lasted

The authors reported that a little over half the patients were told their diagnoses in their doctor's office, 18% over the phone, and 28% in the hospital. 44% of the conversations lasted less than 10 minutes, and 53% lasted more than 10 minutes. In about 31% of the conversations, no treatment plan was discussed. It is no surprise to anyone that patients were more satisfied with the experience-if you can say that you can be satisfied with hearing you have cancer--with in person discussions rather than by telephone, with longer time and with an explanation of treatment options.

I must be an odd ball. I did NOT want to receive the news in my Doctor's office. I asked him to call me at home. Since I was 100% certain I'd be receiving the news I had prostate cancer, I wanted receive that news in the comfort and safety of my own home.

 Additionally, I didn't want to get behind the wheel and drive knowing I'd be shell shocked.  The phone call I received was 10 minutes, but the questions I had at the time were answered. At the time I was satisfied with the way I received the news. Looking back I realize the news left my wife and I alone with our terror.

When someone receives potentially life threatening and/or the catastrophic news they have cancer, they should have access to a Medical Social Worker or Nurse who can help them process the news from a medical and an emotional standpoint.

Any man/couple who receives the diagnosis of prostate cancer should receive a list resources available on-line and face to face which will enable them to reach out to others further along in the journey of coping with prostate cancer.

If you were diagnosed with cancer, how were your told and were you satisfied with the process.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I’ll never forget the day I was fired as a Dad by my three year old son. He and I enjoyed watching the Jetsons. Almost every week Mr Spacely would say to George Jetson “George Jetson, you’re fired!”

One day it was taking me longer than usual to strap my son into his car seat. Unexpectedly my son started to imitate the tone of Mr Spacely and he then uttered these unforgettable words: "Daaaddy you’re fired!” I've been a parent now for more than three decades. Thankfully, it was the first and last time I was ever fired as a Dad. I still joke with Andy about the day he fired me. He still insists he made a right decision because it took me too long to strap him in.

This week I learned that not knowing when to fire someone could cost you your life.  I just heard from a fifty-year-old man who a decade ago (when he was 40)  asked his Doctor to perform a digital rectal exam and to take a PSA. His Doctor told him both tests were unnecessary until he turned fifty.
This man placed his trust in his Doctor's judgement.

Some Doctors believe that men who find out they have prostate cancer seriously harm themselves by choosing an unnecessarily aggressive treatment option. They believe it's better to keep men in the dark so they won't make a foolish treatment decision which will cause them more harm than the prostate cancer ever could.

I grew up in an era where Doctors were right below God in status and importance. If a Doctor said something, it had to be true. The very idea of questioning a Doctor’s judgement was unthinkable. Unfortunately, some Doctors still believe in this myth, some patients still believe this as well.

The reality is Doctors are fallible, in other words, they make mistakes. If you as a patient ask for a test, which is reasonable to perform, and your Doctor refuses, fire your Doctor. Find another who believes they work for you.

This story does not have a happily ever after ending. This man trusted his Doctor for a decade. He had his first digital rectal exam and PSA when he turned 50. His PSA was just shy of 40.  Subsequent testing would show his cancer had spread beyond his prostate. The opportunity for a cure had past. Now he wonders how many years his life will be cut short as a result of prostate cancer.

Sometimes your life depends upon whether or not you can look your Doctor in the eyes and say “Doctor YOU’RE FIRED. For those men who aren't temperamentally able to tell their Doctor they are fired, don’t say a word. Simply find a Doctor who believes they work for you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why Men Lie to their Doctors

I vividly remember the first time I lied to a Doctor.  Approximately 43 years ago, I was heading home from work. A woman who wasn’t paying attention crossed into my lane. I was traveling at approximately 45 miles per/hour. I was so close to her when crossed into my lane,  I had no time to step on my break. I crashed into her head on at full speed.

Cars didn't have seat belts in those days.  I had no clue how long it took for an ambulance to arrive because I was unconscious. When the paramedic arrived, I had idea what had happened or where I was. I was glad he arrived because I knew I needed help, but didn't know why.
Once I was in the hospital I’d learned that I was found hanging out of the ride side of the car. The side of my face hit the right side of the car with enough force to break my zygomatic arch  (my cheek bone) The ER Doc told me I’d need plastic surgery to repair it.

During my ER exam I was asked repeatedly if I lost consciousness. I was a very frightened teenager at the time. I knew I was facing surgery and I no idea what else they’d do to me if I told them the truth, so I lied. I told them I was awake the whole time until the ambulance arrived. The truth was I had no idea whether I'd been hanging out of my car for minutes or hours. I didn't even know I'd been involved in a car accident until they told me.

I paid a very high price for lying to my Doctors. When I was released from the hospital I went back to college. I had no memory of the courses I was enrolled in. I had to go to the Administrative office to get a copy of my schedule. I had no memory of what I'd been taught in any of my classes. I had to go back to page one in every one of my text books. I also discovered I didn't know my way around campus. I was totally lost. It was as though I'd never been to the campus. It was necessary for me to ask directions to get to every one of my classes. I frequently got lost because I had no memory of the layout of the campus. It was as though I'd never been there before.

 I never told anyone about my loss of memory. Decades later, when I was a Medical Social Worker in a Head Injury Unit,  I came to the understanding and realization that many of the problems I'd experienced immediately following the accident and for decades afterward was a direct result of the traumatic head injury I suffered as a teenager. I never received any treatment for my traumatic head injury because I lied to my Doctors. That was the first time I lied to my Doctors, Unfortunately, it wasn't the last.

Men frequently lie during their medical exams. They routinely lie about how much they drink, smoke, use drugs and exercise. Another way men lie is by omission. They will frequently “forget” to tell their Doctor about troubling symptoms. Men are much less likely to visit their Doctor’s than women. Based on my own experiences,I believe men want to tough it out.

Currently I’m experiencing moderate pain in one knee, and sometimes severe pain in the other. I have no plans to make an appointment with my Doctor. I live in a two-story house. When I’m unable to get up the stairs, that’s when I'll call for an appointment. Is my behavior logical or rational? No it isn't. Am I sticking with this plan? Yes I am.

Men’s resistance to seeing a Doctor can cost men their lives. Two stories come to my mind. One involves a man who sharpens my knives for my restaurants. One day he was experiencing chest pain. His wife told him he needed to go to an ER immediately. He told her he wasn't leaving the store. Fortunately for him, his wife immediately called 911. By making that call, she saved his life. He’d just had a moderately severe heart attack. He would have died in his store if his wife wasn't there to call an ambulance.

The other man wasn't as fortunate. My wife was attending a wedding. Her best friend’s father experienced chest pains. He told no one. Instead, he went to his car where he could be alone with his pain.  That's where they found him, dead in his car.

In both of these situations the men involved refused to seek out medical help. The only reason one of these men survived was that his wife was with him at the time of his medical emergency. She didn't give him the option to refuse medical attention.

Prostate cancer is a different type of disease. It can be silent and without symptoms for decades. Once symptoms appear, prostate cancer is usually outside of the prostate making a cure impossible. There’s only one way to get a jump on this disease and that’s through regular digital exams and PSA testing. We are approaching end of September which is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.  Do yourself and those you love a favor. Suffer the humiliation and discomfort and get both a digital exam and a PSA.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions

Whether you have a faith in God or not, the Bible is one of the best books even written to gain wisdom for living.  Here's a  verse which I believe should be applied to those who are for and against prostate cancer screening.

Matt 7:16-18
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

 In America 98% of graduating medical students swear to some form of the Hippocratic Oath. In this oath a Doctor swears "that s/he will do what's best for the patient rather than whats best for the physician."

Here's the problem for men. The following organizations believe men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer hurt themselves with unnecessary and aggressive treatment causing a life-time of harm. Here's the list of organizations who want to protect men by keeping them in the dark about prostate cancer:
US Preventative Task Force
The American Urological Association recommends men wait until they are 55 before  prostate cancer screening.
The The American Academy of Family Physicans came out against screening.

Let's get the fruit of these recommendations. In the past week I've heard from men and widows who were effected in devastating ways by prostate cancer while men were in their 30's. The devastation came in from two directions. Either men died quickly or men suffered with advanced PC for years because they were considered too young to be screened for PC.

So the question for this month, National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is: Does Prostate Screening Save Lives?
Some say No
Others Say Yes

If you live by: "When in doubt, take the easy way out"- Then you'll avoid screening and agree with those who say: Don't bother.

As a man who was dx with PC at age 58 I'm outraged that organizations have come out against prostate cancer screening in order to protect men from themselves. Here's where the road to hell is paved with good intentions and the need to be a fruit inspector comes into play. I've recently met some PC widows whose husbands would be alive today IF they were screened in their 30's.

To every healthy man who reads this, it's your life. Do you want to live until you see your children marry? Do you want to live to become a grandfather? Increase the odds of this happening. Get your PSA and prostate checked in your 30's. Unfortunately, most Doctors will tell you this is unnecessary. I say it is. Who are you going to believe? To those men who say I'll believe the guy or gal with the medical degree consider this:
Incidence of aggressive cancer in young men is on the rise

Do yourself and those who love you a favor. Get your prostate and PSA checked. The life you could save would be your own. If you know a man who hasn't had his prostate checked, share this blog with him. You may become his life saver.

If you've dx with PC and want more information about the Robotic Surgery check out my book:
I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where's Yours?
By Rick Redner MSW & my wife Brenda Redner RN

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Prostate Cancer-Fatal or Harmless? That Is The Question!

Although this article is two years old, it’s more accurate today than the day it was written. Robotic Surgery has  rapidly became the treatment of choice for men with prostate cancer. In part, this is due to heavy marketing campaign of surgeons and treatment centers. While they tout the benefits of surgery I wonder how many men/ couples were told the results found in this study:

“Within two years of surgery, the researchers found that 81 percent of the men who underwent the procedure experienced erectile dysfunction, 17 percent had urinary incontinence with symptoms such as "dribbling" or having "no control over urine," and 12 percent reported bowel dysfunction. I wonder what would happen if those statistics were presented to men/couples prior to surgery. Would that influence the decision making process for men?

Here’s another finding I thought was disturbing:
With early stage prostate cancer surgery did not significantly reduce the men's risk of dying from the cancer or any cause, as compared with the observation approach. (Active Surveillance)

There’s no doubt too many men are choosing surgery in the early stages of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, for those men, surgery won’t make a difference in their survival rates. Instead of an extending their lives, these men will needlessly suffer permanent life altering consequences.

There's another reality men need to take into consideration. Prostate Cancer can be a deadly disease. According to the American Cancer Society,  prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. So Prostate Cancer is NOT a disease to be taken lightly.

 In order for men to make the right treatment decision it’s important to deal with your previous experiences with cancer. The odds are you’ve known one or more people who’ve died as a result of cancer. The word cancer is associated with vivid images of suffering and death. Those powerful images give rise to fear.

Making a fear-based decision about treating your prostate cancer will result in you choosing the most aggressive form of treatment available. For most men that’s surgery.

The most important thing for men to do is hold off on making a decision about treatment until you have all the facts about your specific cancer. If it’s aggressive, aggressive treatment is required. If it’s not aggressive, choosing active surveillance may be the appropriate treatment option. I can’t say this often enough, make your treatment choice based on your diagnosis rather than your fears.

If now or in the future someone you know is diagnosed with prostate cancer, I hope you'll share this blog with them.

For men who want to know more about impact that robotic surgery has on your sexuality and relationships consider reading the book my wife (Brenda Redner)  and I (Rick Redner)  wrote about our experiences.  Here’s the link to: I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours?     You can also visit my website at:
Where is your prostate?
Here you'll find a lot of information about the surgical option.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why Men Avoid Prostate Exams

The answer to the question of why  men avoid prostate exams isn't as simple as the obvious answer that no man in their right mind wants to feel a physician's finger go deeply into their rectum.  It's an uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing exam, but let's put that aside and look at other reasons.

Unfortunately,  men are less likely to seek out medical attention. According to The Center For Disease Control men are 80% LESS likely than a women to use a regular source of health care. It takes an illness to get the majority of men to visit a doctor and even then many men resist. Prostate cancer is a silent disease. By the time there are symptoms it's usually too late for a cure.

Thoughtful men who research the topic will find many powerful voices  stating that prostate exams will do more harm than good.The U.S. Preventative Task Force  and  the American Academy of Family Physicians came out against prostate cancer screening in men without symptoms. Even the American Urological Association came out against PSA screening in men under 40  and doesn't recommend screening between the ages of 40 and 54 for men at average risk. Visit Prostate Cancer Under 50 if you want to connect with a group of men whose lives were saved due to earlier than recommended prostate cancer screening.

It appears the medical profession wants to protect men from making bad decisions once they are given the news they have prostate cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, somewhere between 17-50% of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer over treat their cancer and end up suffering with a lifetime of symptoms such as the loss of urinary control or a lifetime of erectile dysfunction.

I don't understand how or why doctors would recommend that men be kept in the dark about a potentially fatal disease.  If men are making bad decisions after they are given the news they have prostate cancer, the right question to ask is: What can be done to help men make the best treatment decision based on their diagnosis rather than their fear of cancer?

Before men began to celebrate they can avoid a digital rectal exam and\or or a PSA test I believe men need to know there's been a significant jump in the number of YOUNG men dying of prostate cancer which means the Incidence of young men with aggressive prostate cancer is on the rise..

Here's  what needs to be done in order for men to do all they can so they won't die from prostate cancer. First, men need to overcome their resistance to avoid medical care when they are symptom free. Second, men need to cope with the discomfort, embarrassment, and/or  aversion to a digital rectal exam. Third, all of us lean toward  following advice you already agree with. So if you are against prostate exams you'll be glad to follow this advice:  Say Goodbye to Prostate Exams.

The only problem following that advice is that it's  possible  you could be one of those men who have an aggressive form of prostate cancer  early in your life. Therefore, skipping out on your prostate exam could be a fatal decision. That's why I believe all men should have their first PSA and prostate exam at age 30. If you are in a high risk group or have a history of prostate cancer in your family I suggest your first exam  and PSA  at age 20. I strongly prefer the adage "better safe than sorry" applies to prostate cancer screening. Here's the bottom line: Prostate Cancer Screening Saves Lives

If  you happen to be one of the 233,000 men who will receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer this year, use caution. Don't  panic and  rush into aggressive treatment. Take the time to find out whether or not your cancer is aggressive and whether you need aggressive treatment. For many men Active Surveillance is all the treatment you'll need.

Yearly Prostate  cancer screening saved my life. It could save yours.

If your cancer is aggressive and your considering surgery check out my award winning book:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Keeping Men In Dark About Their Prostate Cancer

According to the American Cancer:

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2014 are:
  • About 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed
  • About 29,480 men will die of prostate cancer
About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 36 will die of prostate cancer.
The number of younger men diagnosed with aggressive cancer is increasing. Unfortunately  there is a new threat that's emerging for men with prostate cancer. This threat comes from an unexpected source.....the medical community. 
A recent study concludes that prostate cancer screening saves lives, but casts doubt on the benefits of early screening. The U.S  Preventative Task Force came out against prostate cancer screening.
Here's the problem: Too many men are choosing to threat their cancer aggressively and suffering from unnecessary and very unpleasant life long consequences as a result of their treatment choice. In order to protect men from making bad decisions, there is a growing number of medical professionals who believe keeping men in the dark and allowing men to die unnecessarily  from prostate cancer is the solution to the problem of over treatment. From my perspective this is insanity. 
Why are too many men choosing to over treat their cancer? There is a one word answer: FEAR. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer powerful images of pain, suffering and death came to my mind. If that's how and when men are asked to make a treatment decision they will go for the most aggressive treatment available. That's no reason keep men in the dark and permit other men to die unnecessarily of a disease that could be treated. Yet that's exactly what many in the medical community are proposing.  

As a prostate cancer survivor, I believe the right thing to do is to help men manage their fears and misconceptions about cancer,]. This will empower men  to make best treatment decision based on facts and their diagnosis rather than their fears.  Why is this so difficult for the medical community to understand? Could it be there is widespread ignorance about the emotional aspects of receiving the diagnosis of cancer? 

 In an article I wrote for Alternative Medicine Magazine I propose a way to help men get past their fears in order to make the best treatment decision. This makes infinitely  more sense than keeping men in the dark and allowing others to die. If you are considering surgery as a treatment choice or experiencing difficulty adjusting to life without a prostate check out my book I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are Kegels The Magic Bullet For Developing Urinary Control After A Radical Prostatectomy?

I'll start with the bad news first, Kegels are not a magic bullet.That said, men who do Kegels before and after surgery do better with regaining urinary control than men who do no Kegels or men who begin Kegels after surgery.

After surgery I had severe urinary incontinence. I was going through 15 diapers a day. It was both physically and emotionally draining. I hated the quality of my life and more than anything I wanted to regain urinary control as quickly as possible.  Before and after surgery  I was told to do  6 sets of ten Kegels a day.

I have a philosophy in life that''s probably caused as much trouble as it's relieved. It goes like this, if 20 is good, then 200 is ten times better. I figured I could regain urinary control much faster if I went from 60 Kegels a day to a few hundred a day.

With a misplaced confidence in my philosophy and without discussing my plan with my Doctor I began my plan of performing hundreds of Kegels a day. It didn't take me long to realize I began leaking worse than before I started performing hundreds of Kegels a day. I got so discouraged and depressed I went from doing hundreds of Kegels a day to quitting completely. In other words, I gave up on Kegels.

I learned the hard way that performing hundreds of  Kegels  causes fatigue and increased leakage.  I learned this after discussing my failure with my Doctor. Based on his experience and advice, I went back to performing 60 Kegels a day.

On my  Website Survey 32% of 300 men said urinary issues were the worst part of coping with life without a prostate.

I discovered the hard way it's not possible to cut your recovery time half by doubling the amount of Kegels you perform. Here's one out of  many life issues where more is harmful rather than helpful.

I hope by reading this you are spared from the trouble and healing delay this misplaced philosophy caused me.

Here's a link to a good article about Continence After A Radical Prostatectomy

If you want more tips and insights with regard to coping with life without a prostate, check out my book on

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Double Nerve Sparing Surgery-Hope or Hoax?

I believe the overwhelming majority of men who undergo double nerve sparing surgery are set up for long term disappointment. Disappointment is an understatement. In fact I'm beginning to wonder whether the expectations men are given post surgery could be considered a hoax.

A  hoax is defined as: something intended to deceive or defraud. So my question is whether or not men are receiving accurate information about the return of their erectile functioning post-surgery.

I'm aware that many men never loose their erectile abilities. As soon as the catheter is removed, they are capable of achieving an erection.  I also know of men who after a period of weeks, months, or years regained their pre-surgery levels of their erectile abilities.

I'm also aware there is a very large group of men who are either disappointed, angry, depressed or devastated by their lack of erectile abilities after double nerve sparing surgery.  Every man who is offered double nerve sparing surgery should be told the following:

"Double nerve sparing does not necessarily mean a return of erectile functioning. Even if there is a return, in all probability it will not be comparable to your preoperative abilities." 

If you received that information, you were provided with accurate information.  I believe far too many men went into surgery expecting a return to preoperative erectile functioning. There are a few reasons why this could have happened.

It's possible you were given inaccurate information. It's also possible you were told but didn't remember. Another possibility is the  issue was never discussed. Whatever the caused this gap between what you expected vs what actually happened doesn't matter in terms of the devastation men experience post-surgery.

Men who experience this expectation gap experience anger, depression, bitterness, a loss of self esteem or manhood, and relational  problems. Too man men suffer emotionally, sexually, physically, and relationally as a result of the gap between what was expected and what actually happened with regard to erectile abilities.

Make sure you understand ALL the effects that surgery will have on your sexuality. For example a man will no longer ejaculate. Spontaneous erections may be a thing of the past. No amount of visual auditory or physical stimulation will result in an erection without the use of ED medication, penile injections or a vacuum pump. Orgasms may be less intense. It's possible you'll leak urine before, during or after an orgasm.

Far too many men are choosing aggressive treatment and unnecessarily suffering some of these consequences when aggressive treatment may not be necessary.  My advice is this: Don't let fear determine how you treat your prostate cancer. Get all the medical tests necessary to give the most information possible about your cancer. If it's life threatening treat your cancer aggressively. The risks and consequences of surgery may cause you to consider other forms of aggressive treatment. If your cancer is not aggressive, seriously consider active surveillance.

If you want more information about the surgical option check out my book:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Conflicting Advice For Men Regarding Prostate Cancer

Men can and should be confused about the advice and warning they receive about prostate cancer. On the one hand there is  The United States Preventive Services Task Force who recommends that regardless of age, men without symptoms should not routinely have the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer. The logic behind this decision comes from the fact that too many men are choosing to aggressively treat their prostate cancer when aggressive treatment isn't necessary.

In other words men are basing their choice of treatment on their fear of cancer rather than the specifics of their diagnosis.  That's definitely a problem that needs to be addressed. That said, keeping men ignorant about the possibility of prostate cancer is equally dangerous.

Here's another fact men need to know before they blindly follow the recommendations of the U.S Preventive Services Task Force:
 The number of younger men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased nearly 6-fold in the last 20 years, and the disease is more likely to be aggressive in these younger men, according to a new analysis. Typically, prostate cancer occurs more frequently as men age into their 70s or 80s. However, the researchers found that when prostate cancer strikes at a younger age, it's likely because the tumor is growing quickly.

To read the article where this quote is taken from click on this link:
Incidence of Aggressive Prostate Cancer Increasing In Young Men

I don't know about you, but when it comes to making life and death decisions I prefer to error on the side of caution. That's why I believe it's important for men, especially those men who have a family history of prostate cancer to begin screening as early as in their twenties and thirties.

The incidence of aggressive  prostate cancer found in young men is on the rise. Men need to based their decision making based on reality rather than the  ridiculous  recommendations from the Task Force. That's my take away from this, what's yours?