Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

The Word Cancer Why Are We Shocked

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A light blue ribbon is the symbol for prostate...

A light blue ribbon is the symbol for prostate cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi everyone I am about to embark on a subject that may be a little controversial. The seed of the subject was sown by a response to my last post “The me I used to Know” I pondered long and hard over the thrust of the response of which I did not disagree but rather fired up in me an interest to pursue this theme further.

The  response received is as follows: ” With respect to all, I honestly don’t understand why it takes a life changing experience for some people to become more introspective.

In my own case I was diagnosed in early March this year with aggressive prostate cancer, and I remember very clearly the diagnosis given to me by the doctor. I also remember very clearly my immediate thoughts when told this news and it must have been similar to most people in the western world who have just been delivered this information. I was shattered.

In our western world most of us have grown up with little to really fear. We have not had to face a war, disease is almost under control, the economy is stable (or has been for some years) Things have been pretty rosy for some time. The worst things we could imagine is broken bones, muggings, car accidents etc etc.

The one word that brings fear to the population of the western world is the word “CANCER.” You tell anyone in the western world they have cancer and immediately the thought processes go 1) This is rare. 2)I am going to die, how long have I got. 3) What treatments will I have to have. 4) how do I tell my family. 5) This cannot be happening to me and so on.

Just have a look  around the rest of the world to see what I mean here. There is continual wars,famines natural disasters and all sorts of mayhem that people have to contend with and I put the argument that a cancer diagnosis to someone in these countries would be taken more on the chin.

That is not to say I believe we in the western world are a bunch of sooks. More, it is just that it carries with it a huge shock to our way of life and brings home to us our own mortality. Suddenly we are no longer safe in our world.

This alien disease respects no borders nor does it respect status nor wealth or poverty in our countries. We in the western world are used to order, fairness, justice to one and all. Our religeous beliefs lead us to believe in a fair and just God. Our country is a beacon in the world and we endeavour to spread our good fortune to those countries which are less fortunate. we live in hope that those less fortunate countries will benefit and will in the long run experience the same benefits we experience.

Okay here I am not quite 65 years of age and my only fears for the future were as follows: 1) Do I have enough money to retire. 2) I hope I dont get alzheimers disease I want to have all my marbles right to the end. 3) I hope my wife of forty years doesn’t get alzheimers disease either for obvious reasons. 4) I hope as I grow older I do not become a burden on anyone I need to be independant. 5) I hope to be alive to watch my grandkids become adults. 6) I hope I die before any of my children, I would hate to have to bury them first. and so on and so on.

I would bet my house that these fears I have just listed are exactly the same as anyone else in my age bracket.

Suddenly here is the doctor telling me I have prostrate cancer. Not just prostrate cancer but agressive gleason 9 locally advanced prostate cancer, with just a small window of hope it can be cured.

Now the shock to me is one thing but it also means a life altering change to my wife of forty years who has to deal with what all this may mean to me personally and our relationship together. Any retirement plans we may have discussed have suddenly gone by the board.

A huge learning curve has started for both of us and a new understanding between us in regard to our relationship after forty years of stability. Economically we are effected as treatments, procedures and recuperation takes place and the term Gap payments take effect. Suddenly we are thrown into the world of centrelink and health cards. Our whole world has changed  just like that.

All right lets just step back for a bit and have a look at that horrible word “CANCER” for most of my life I have dreaded that word as a death sentence and like many of you I have been touched in the past by friends and family who have suffered and died of this disease in its many forms. My own mother died of pancreatic cancer which I believe was a metastis of her previous breast cancer. I have had fit male friends succumb to stomache cancer at 40 years of age. I have seen two of my work colleagues lose their sons to leukemia at ages 7 and 9 years of age. I could go on and on with other family and friends but I think the reader will get the point.

For Di 2011

For Di RIP 2011

But to be fair “CANCER” is really just a word and a diagnosis does not have to mean a death sentence. We here in the western world just automatically assume it is. Really we should remember that many people get diagnosed with cancer at an early stage and a lot of it is cured and people get on with their lives. We really need to start re-inventing our mental acceptance of this word for what it is.

Now back to my friend who responded to my previous post. Paul I can now understand why it takes a life changing experience for people to become more introspective. However I think we need to take the shock value of the word CANCER out of our mentality.

However having just said what I have just written I fully respect that cancer will still be a death sentence for some unfortunate people for who the cancer has become untreatable and terminal. Nothing I have written here will mean anything to those poor souls and it is something we all have to accept.

Perhaps we can continue this debate further down the track.

Lee aka Popeye

One Response

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  1. Very profound Pop…..not at all unlike you….. delving into the philosophical. Very touched that you dedicated the post to our Dee Dee who we lost to the dreaded ‘C’ almost a year ago.


    26 May 2012 at 4:47 pm

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