In his own words, Ron Telpner, my dad, shares his story and experience with prostate cancer. His series, The Four Unwanted Words chronicles his experience from diagnosis to the best health of his life.
Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers.
September 7th 2010, will be a day that I will always remember.
My life changed that day. At 1:30 pm about one year ago, I heard those four words...you have prostate cancer.
I guess my life actually changed before the 7th. It was on August 25th that I had my biopsy at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
It was not a pleasant experience.
The PMH, as it is known to regulars, resides on "hospital row" in downtown Toronto. How disconcerting to have to walk through a crowd of sickly looking people, standing in front of the hospital, hooked up to IV's, and smoking! Just walking through the wall of smoke was enough to tell me I was in for something I wasn't going to like.
I had prepped for the biopsy as directed. You don't know joy until you have self-administered a fleet enema. I guess they do that just so you can get right into the swing of things. Having foreign objects inserted where the sun don't shine is simply not my idea of fun.
I checked into the 4th floor prostate cancer desk and saw the waiting room was full. Men and their wives looking worried, looking scared and for the most part looking unhealthy and overweight. This may be one of the first times I have heard the expression which is now used at lot by doctors who see me... you are in great shape " For a Man Your age!" does that mean everyone else my age is in worse shape? Any you are checking me for cancer? Yikes.
Before the procedure, I was met by a volunteer who had an extensive questionnaire for me to respond to. I answered all the questions and was then asked if I wanted to donate tissue for research. By then I was dizzy with anxiety and told her I would have to think about it. I was sent to the next room. Here I met the Dr. who asked me the same questions and again made a pitch for my tissue samples. By this time I agreed, after, all he was the guy who was going to perform the biopsy. I told him I got faint when I had a blood test and I asked for a sedative or something to relax me before he inserted his toys of torture. But he said that something for relaxation was not part of the procedure.
I assumed the position and let the fun begin. Luckily, I am good at meditation and deep breathing, because that is the only thing that got me through this procedure. There was no nurse on hand, only some volunteers. The sound of the probe was awful, the feeling when it took 16 pieces of my prostate was worse. Something like a powerful staple remover! They said they gave me a local freezing. I am not sure it helped. If your wife tells you that childbirth is the most painful thing in the world, or a friend says you don't know pain until you have a kidney stone, they have no idea just how much fun a biopsy can be.
Suffice it to say that following the procedure, I passed out onto the floor of the waiting room, only to come to in emergency. There, the nurse told me that about 1 in 7 pass out as a result of the procedure. I don't like those odds. One year later they want me to have another one but we'll talk about that later.
I have now lived with cancer for a year. Not always easy but certainly an adventure. Want to know more? Follow me on twitter.
Ron Telpner is Chairman and CEO of The BrainStorm Group, an international ad agency headquartered in Toronto, Canada.