THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR ME WAS TO START THERAPY. I WANTED AND STILL WANT TO LIVE! (RYSZARD, AGED 68)
What was the beginning of the story of your prostate cancer?
I have always avoided doctors very diligently. I haven't had any tests done, and I believed a disease can affect somebody else but not me. My wife has tried countless times to force me to do some tests, but I was unyielding. As later turned out, until I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 3 years ago. Now I visit doctors and go to hospital very often.
What were the first symptoms you experienced?
My symptoms were trivial and that's the worst thing about this disease. I started going to the toilet a lot more. Initially I was paying much attention to it, it seemed pretty normal for men at a certain age. What' more, I got so used to it that I hardly noticed that the frequency of my visits to the toilet was increasing. My wife was raising her voice, trying to persuade me to go to a specialist doctor, but I resisted. I didn't want to make too much fuss about myself. However, one day I couldn't urinate at all and things started to get really serious. It was my wife who made a private appointment with a urologist and literally forced me to do. The doctor was furious at me for waiting for so long. He prescribed me some drugs, referred me for tests and I soon found out I had prostate cancer.
What did think when you heard the diagnosis?
I was devastated. I was terrified, I thought it wall all over. I cried like a baby. I went home to look for some information about the disease on the Internet, and it was even worse. I was growing more and more petrified. I was angry at myself, I didn't know what to do with this anger. I didn't know what to do with myself.
And your wife? How did she react to the diagnosis?
She went hysterical and despaired, but she was also very angry at me. She didn't hide her anger. She was angry at me, at herself, at the disease. When her emotions died out, she focused on actions. She started talking to family, friends, and looked for the best doctor and medical centre where I could receive treatment. And she succeeded. She led my by the hand and accompanied me during all consultations at a doctor's office, she took notes, asked questions, searched for information. I am very grateful for all of this. I used to be in a crisis back then, I was totally devastated. I felt and behaved as if I was surrounded by a thick fog, as if I was in the middle of a film, as if this wasn't my story.
The treatment process began. What happened next?
We've came across a really great oncologist who skilfully provided us with a clear picture of therapy. He reassured us to the extent that I and my wife felt relief. We started to believe that cancer is not a death sentence. The oncologist suggested I should also visit a psycho-oncologist.
Did you follow his suggestion?
In the beginning I resisted. I was ashamed to talk about my condition, but my wife intervened. I do not regret. My wife also used this supportive care and, although it's been three years no, she still does visit her psycho-oncologist from time to time. It helps a lot.
Have you had any doubts concerning your therapy?
No, I've had no doubts, I wanted it to start as early as possible. I was proposed radiation therapy and hormone therapy. I was also advised about the side effects, but I haven't given it much thoughts. The most important thing for me was to get treatment. I wanted and still want to live!
Was your wife afraid of the consequences of your therapy?
Yes, of course. She was afraid of how I would react to treatment. She worried about pain, suffering, but with each new step, it turned out it wasn't all that bad.
What stage of therapy are you currently at?
My therapy is now over. I'm in remission and obviously I do regular check-ups at my oncologist or urologist. I live a normal life, although everything has changed.
What do you mean?
I am a different man. I am more aware about the vulnerability of everything that surrounds us, and I take more care about myself and my beloved ones. I also enjoy my life more. I was once very thrifty, and now I and my wife spend our savings on pleasures. And I feel great about it! What will tomorrow bring? I have no idea, but I have this strange feeling of peace and quiet.
And your wife? What was her role in the process?
I wouldn't do it without her. She's my guarding angel and my strength. She's been with me all the time, offering me invaluable support. Every single day I keep asking myself how I should thank her for all she's done. She just calls me a fool, but I kept on thanking her over and over again. I am truly a lucky guy.
What would be your advice to other men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer?
Stay strong, cherish your sense of humour, and embrace your weaknesses.