Greetings all you good readers of the new Survivors Association website. My name is Dan Cole and I will be contributing to the blog section of the website from time to time. Our initial reason for the blog section is to tell our own unique stories and our history with prostate cancer.
My story with prostate cancer started with a routine annual physical back in August of 2010. I was 48 years old, a runner and avid biker who really thought I had nothing to worry about. My heart rate was excellent, my physical fitness was very good, and I had just lost about 20 pounds. No worries, right?
Well, not exactly. My doc called me with the results of my blood test. My PSA, which for normal men is somewhere in the 0-4 range was an 18. And that number started me on an odyssey that still continues to this day. Surgery, radiation, and hormone treatments have become part of my life. Recently I had a CT scan that showed 4 small tumors in my pelvic and abdomen regions. So, as they say, the fight continues. It has been a seven year battle for me that brings ups and downs like one of the scariest roller coasters you could ever imagine.
But today, on this blog, I don’t really want to talk about the physical part of the cancer fight. I want to talk about the mental part, which really is an underrated part of the whole ordeal. How do you wrap your brain around the fact that you have a disease that could kill you, or at the very least, disrupt your life to the point that it will never be the same? Over the last seven years, I have learned a few things that help me deal with this issue. Most of them deal with information and community. And the Survivors Association has helped me in both of these areas.
Looking up information on prostate cancer can be a scary thing. The internet is full of articles on everything from what you should do if diagnosed, to what you should eat, to quick and ridiculous cure ideas. It’s all out there. And it’s a bit overwhelming. Trying to navigate that all by yourself is intimidating, and can also lead you down the wrong path. Here at the Survivors Association, we bring in doctors and psychologists and nutritionists with real world experience that will talk to you in a setting that is comfortable and reassuring. You can get real world answers to your problems, and maybe learn a few things you didn’t know about not just prostate cancer, but also how to deal with all the issues that come up from fighting this disease. It is information that is backed up by expertise, and delivered in a way that is neither intimidating nor scary.
One of the biggest issues that I had after being diagnosed with cancer was how alone and isolated it made me feel. I would sit in a room of people and think, “None of you people have any idea what I’m going through right now.” It felt like I was the only person in the world with my kind of problems. I needed to get with a group of people that understood what I was going through. And the Survivors Association, along with the people at Gilda’s Club, became part of my life because they understood what I was going through. They get it.
I’ve been a loner my whole life. I’ve never had a problem hanging out with myself. But cancer is a disease that I couldn’t handle by myself, and I needed to feel a community of support around me. I get this from friends and family who pray for me. But I also get this by being part of a group of people that understand what it is like to go through what I have gone through, and can provide me real answers to my questions. There are some months at the Survivors Association when we don’t have a speaker scheduled, and we just go around the room and share our stories about what we’ve been through. Hearing other people talk about their own troubles and triumphs help me understand that I am not alone, that there are people out there that struggle with everything this disease throws at them. That community is invaluable to me.
Let me close out this blog with this thought. Cancer is a vile disease that kills us and takes away the people that we love. But, it also brings us together as people who love and care for each other, and it can bring out the best of what makes us human. Gilda’s Club and the Survivors Association are part of a greater community making a difference in people’s lives.
I am grateful to be part of that community.
Thanks for reading.