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.