Monday, August 6, 2018

I Hate Waiting For Test Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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