This. Just. Sucks.

quirkMay 7, 2009

(fyi--this is long, only peripherally a stepfamily-type issue, and includes some rather unladylike language. If that bothers you, just dont read further. But I really need to vent, canÂt do it irl, and you ladies got the short straw--)

BF has prostate cancer. F%$#.

Actually, heÂd already had a miserably sucky year so far, starting in January when a family member died unexpectedly, two weeks later a friend since childhood died unexpectedly, heÂs has some personal/financial/work-related crap to deal with, other health concerns. Now this.

Meanwhile, IÂm unhappy enough at my job that IÂve decided to quit and go back to my previous one (yes, I know IÂm lucky this is even an option). My grandmother died. My brother has had a year to rival BFs-- deaths in his family (my SILs brother and cousin), personal crap, and now a broken collarbone. My mother has developed some undiagnosed health issue that makes her pass out without warning at random times (like when driving-- sheÂs wrecked twice, the second time totaled the car). CanÂt find whatÂs wrong. A couple close friends going through some personal sh!t. There was a minute there I really just didnÂt want to answer my phone in case the person calling had some major personal problem or health scare they needed to talk about. I was feeling like IÂve done my share of empathetic and supportive for a while.

I had no idea. Frickin. Cancer.

He got positive biopsy results last week. Tomorrow heÂs going in for a bunch of testing (bone scans, ct scans, I donÂt know what all) to find out if itÂs spread anywhere or is (hopefully) confined to the prostate. Then he has an appointment late next week to get those results and discuss treatment options. HeÂs somewhat excessively (imo) protective of his privacy in normal times. So of course heÂs not telling anyone, and doesnÂt want me to, either. (so I canÂt have this little rant to anyone irl, at least not yet). I heard him on the phone flat out lie to his sister and tell her the biopsy results are fine. The only people heÂs told so far are me and (haha) his exwife. HeÂs kind of been alternating between being sort of ok and handling things at some times, and at other times, just not being ok at all. Just. Not. Hopefully once he knows more and has a treatment plan, heÂll at least start opening up to his family a bit-heÂs really very close to them (kids, siblings, mom). His daughter just moved back in with him, so IÂm thinking he at least wonÂt be able to keep it from her for too long. It canÂt be good for him to keep this from his family, can it? At least heÂs talking to me, but I just donÂt see how that can be enough. I should encourage him to at least tell his kids, if he doesnÂt on his own, right? Maybe the ex will tell them if he doesnÂtÂ

IÂm scared sh!tless for him (healthwise). IÂm worried about him (mentally, emotionally). IÂm worried about me. I feel selfish for worrying about me. I worry about us. The first thing he did after he got the biopsy results was call me up and tell me not to expect to hear from him for a while while he dealt with stuff maybe heÂd call me once in a blue moon to let me know how heÂs doing. Only took him two hours to get over that and call back, but depending on how bad this gets, he might just totally withdraw, I donÂt know. Or what if he doesnÂt withdraw but IÂm the one whoÂs not strong enough to handle it? I am fÂing pissed. HeÂs too young for this sh!t. Where the he!! does this punk-a$$ disease think it gets off just waltzing in out of the blue and sucker-punching him like this? (and also I feel vaguely ridiculous for having just anthropomorphized cancer). I feel absolutely, utterly helpless about the whole situation. When heÂs having his not-ok moments, nothing I say seems to remotely help. And I canÂt fix cancer. Aarrgh. Anyone have a magic wand lying around I can borrow?

FÂk, fÂk, fÂk.

((breathe in. breathe out. ok, vent over i think))

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I am so sorry. If I had the wand, I'd be waving it in your direction. How lame does "take it one day at a time" sound?
My thoughts are with you.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 12:51PM
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sorry...unfortunatelly it is a very common cancer, happens at any age. i hope he gets treatment on time and is healthy again. i do not know what to advice. men are awful when they're sick, i would expect craziness like hiding facts or not connecting to others and just plain being dificult. typical for men. he'll get better though. hang in there. stay positive. hugs

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 1:06PM
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Cancer is a big word nobody wants to hear. I don't know how he will deal with it but for me it was very scary. When my Pap came back bad I cried and thought I was going to die. My Ex was crappy about it. said I had nothing to worry about til I got answers. There will be lots of questions scary thoughts, life and death feelings, feeling very alone. For me I found a group on-line called Hystersisters. That group helped me more then anything I did over that whole time. I don't know the answer but I am pretty sure that if he looks and is willing he will find a simular group for his problem. There is lots of information online for these things. Knowing the answer to some of his questions will help.

You will just have to follow his lead as to what you can do for him. I didn't have that with my Ex. To have been able to have someone to hear me would have been good. Also realize that the meds he will take may make him say and do things he normally wouldn't. Don't make any big life changes until this has passed if you can help it. The less stress the better for his recovery.

Know we, at the very least I am here for you. Thoughts and prayers to you and yours.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 1:25PM
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Quirk, Suck it does...One day at a time and stay positive are great advice, so hard to do when worry is tearing you apart. I would totally respect his right to privacy, he needs to handle this his own way and on his terms..I am that person too, I need to handle illness alone..The only way you know if you re strong enough to handle is is when the crisis is over and you re still standing ..I promise you will be..Now about your mom..That is bothersome, my mom had the same thing, was tested for heart abnormalities, EKG, Holter etc, nothing showed up, however she had an arrythmia, was not detected..Had they found this in time, a pacemaker would have saved her..Please look into this if it in anyway looks like it may relate to her..Nothing but good thoughts, I have a sick DH too...Dotz

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 1:43PM
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Just pulled this from a quick search of the internet:


Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the U.S. Only lung cancer causes more cancer deaths in American men. The lifetime probability of developing prostate cancer is about 16%. Each year, approximately 234,460 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 27,350 will die from the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, 5-year survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have increased during the past 20 years from 67% to nearly 100%.

A survival rate indicates the percentage of patients who live a specific number of years after the cancer is diagnosed. For prostate cancer, the 10-year survival rate is 93% and the 15-year survival rate is 77%. After 15 years, survival rates stabilize. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who are diagnosed with low-grade prostate cancers have a minimal risk of dying from prostate cancer up to 20 years after diagnosis. However, men diagnosed with more severe forms of prostate cancer have a higher risk of dying within 10 years."

I realize a lot depends on your BF's exact case, and no one ever wants to hear the word "cancer" EVER... But it is true that some forms have a bit more hope attached to them than others. It sounds like this might be one of them. I know it pretty much sucks any way you slice it, but do try to remember it could be worse. And make a commitment to getting as much joy and laughs as possible in the coming years. My dad lived with lung cancer for just under two years and actually said that it was among the best periods of his life simply for the way it made him appreciate certain things and live a lot more intently. He may have been saying that to make us or himself feel better about what was happening to him, but so what? What he believed, he felt. He created his own brave and enlightened reality in the face of the horrible news, and it really did make that time valuable to him.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 2:53PM
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You have taken the first step! started off feeling bad and sorry, now you are ANGRY and that is good. some are most productive when angry...take your anger and say to yourself what can I do with this today??? how can I turn this anger into something productive? Your BF obviously feels close and comfortable to you or he would have lied to you about results too...If I were in your shoes I would take this anger by the horn and go to town your BF with all your might whether it is holding his hand or giving him his space, Embark on your new job and give it your all, go jogging or find a release for yourself too!!!
My favorite saying is : grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and strength to know the difference................I think of it a lot when i think of my sisters battle with mental issues and her motivated me to keep going, and make a difference with the things I can change!!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 3:11PM
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I'm so sorry to hear that Quirk! That really does suck...
You two are in for a rough couple of months, and I'll be thinking of you --

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 5:08PM
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Thanks, guys, I just needed a little talking down from my virtual ledge. Believe it or not, I think one day at a time was something I needed to hear. Sounds obvious, doesnt it, but I have not been doing it. Ive running all the what-ifs through my mind and projecting out all the possible outcomes when you are right; right now we both just need to get through today, and then tomorrow.

I know hes really scared. Nikemama, I know everyone is different, but if you dont mind my asking, do you think its a good idea to let him see how scared *I* am, or try to focus more on positives? On the one hand, I know hes scared and struggling and dont want to feed into his fear with my own and possibly make it worse when I am supposed to be the support right now, but I also dont want to sound dismissive of what hes going through or like Im not taking it serious enough. KWIM? His drs office did put him in touch with a guy that leads a support group, so thats good. Hes actually the one that talked him down from his initial freak-out (guess they have some experience with this, huh), hopefully BF will continue to stay in contact or join the group if he needs.

Dotz, about my mom, personally I think you are correct. She has had cardiac rhythm issues in the past, I am sure that is whats going on. She had an electrophysiology(?) study to look for arrhythmias (more invasive but supposedly better than a Holter at diagnosing) and depending on what they found, they could have either zapped damaged heart tissue (mom was kinda freaked out by this possibility), put in a pacemaker, or something else. But supposedly thery found nothing wrong with her heart. I dont believe it. Theyve also looked at seizures and I think sleep disorders. It is worrisome and sending some good wishes right back to you and hubby it is hard, isnt it, watching this happen to someone you love?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 5:52PM
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Breathe in , breathe out.

Arm yourself with information;
as serenity said, the prognosis is hopeful, & if I remember correctly, younger men have are likelier to whip it.

& anthropomorphicizing cancer is something that holistic healers encourage:
"Visualize your white cells" (or whatever) marching to the tumor with swords drawn. Hear their marching music. See them strike death to the cancer cells."


I think you should be down-to-earth, practical, & calm toward your boyfriend;
fear feeds fear, & it becomes a rising spiral.

Take care.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 6:14PM
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"do you think its a good idea to let him see how scared *I* am, or try to focus more on positives? On the one hand, I know hes scared and struggling and dont want to feed into his fear with my own and possibly make it worse when I am supposed to be the support right now"

Ask him.

Tell him you love him and want to be there for him in whatever way he needs. Tell him that while you know the odds are very, very good, that you worry anyway. Tell him you don't want to burden him with your worries, but you also don't want him to think you are uncaring -- and that you really don't know best how to help. Then ask him to cut you some slack if you 'get it wrong', and to help you 'get it right' by telling you what he needs.

He may not be able to tell you right away.
But ask every so often just to keep the topic 'discussable'.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 8:16PM
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Quirk, I'm so sorry. One day at a time is right, and try to find something you can accomplish each day to give you a positive to reflect on - even if it's sorting the lids to the Tupperware! The negatives will happen when they happen - trying to predict them and worry about them now will do you no good.

We'll all be here pulling for you - please keep us posted.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 10:07PM
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For me when I had mine (Female Cancer) I would have liked my then husband to have heard me more then anything. Knowing you are there for him is a huge deal. Scared in the way that he knows your future with him matters to you. You can cry with him if the need is there but knowing you got his back is the thing. When he has his treatments what ever that may be, having a fluffy pillow and his favorite snack, and a few good movies you have both been wanting to see are good. Skip (THE BUCKET LIST). I say that because for me when I am stressed I joke, Laugh or Cry, always pick Laugh. Don't bring it up unless you have to but always be ready to talk if he wants too. Go to his appointments if he will let you even if your not going back with him. The emotions of it all are hard and it is pretty tough driving it alone feeling sorry for yourself. Keeping your mind off worry and stop for a Mocha at Starbucks or hotwings at Hooters, what ever will keep him from dwelling on the worst part.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 12:00PM
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Quirk, have your mother get checked for seizures. My aunt had the same problem, 3 or 4 car accidents and each time she could only say she blacked out. Doctors couldn't find anything wrong. My mom told her it was seizures, then the doctor was able to check. Seizures are not always grand mall with body shaking. Often times, they are just intermittent loss of consciousness and otherwise undetectable.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 8:05PM
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BF got pretty good news; the cancer is confined to the prostate. Of course he still has to go through treatment so he's got some not fun times ahead, and once you have cancer there's always a worry of it coming back, but since it was caught before it spread it almost certainly will not be life-threatening.

This was something they caught during his routine yearly physical, no signs or symptoms of anything wrong, and it's already taken over half of his prostate... so very good reason to make sure all your husbands get their physicals when they're supposed to. And us too of course. Catch this stuff early.

and again, thanks for the words of support. It helped me stay calm -or at least act calm- while he was waiting for the test results.

thermometer, yes seizures is one of the things they've checked my mom for. They're still looking for the problem, and she's complaining about not being able to drive.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Glad to hear your BF got good news. My DH was diagnosed with prostate cancer several years ago. Our PCP found something that concerned him on the physical exam and referred him to a urologist. The urologist monitored his PSA levels for about 18 months until DH finally pushed for a sample out of 10 came back positive for cancer. I was online immediately researching treatments...learned more about Gleason scores than I cared to know...we also knew that given DH's age, his Gleason score & the staging of the cancer, he was looking at one of two treatment options: surgical removal of the prostate or brachytherapy (seed implantation) your BF, the cancer was contained to the prostate...I wanted him to have the thing surgically removed; he didn't want the side effects that entailed, so he opted for the seed implantation...he had the seeds implanted in the AM, was home early that really was minimally invasive. The treatment providers told us they would be his best friends for the next seven years...which will be this far, so good.
He goes every year to the PCP for a physical exam and PSA level...he'll have to monitor this closely for the rest of his life...but(she writes with fingers crossed)so far we have had a really good outcome.

Best of luck to your BF...and know, he has a number of years before he may be genuinely in the, be hopeful and patient!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 12:11PM
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