My experience with radiation therapy

by Joseph, 67 ans

This is my brief story of the experience I had with prostate cancer, its consequent treatment and its effect on my life:

My family doctor had been keeping an eye on my enlarged prostate until one day he decided I needed a more intensive investigation; he then referred me to a urologist. The latter ordered a specific ultrasound test in order to evaluate more precisely my prostate's condition and, should there be a need for further testing, biopsies. Such was the case and, at the age of 67, on April 26, 2001 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Needless to say I was simply stunned when the urologist gave me the news. After he explained to me what they had found and various treatment options were presented, I was given some time to think about it and decide what to choose. I knew at that time, as much as I hated it, the only thing I could do was to accept the situation and to fight it with all the strength and support I could get.

The hardest part, I found, was the waiting period between each procedure and test being done in order to find out how extensive my prostate cancer was. The worst scenarios were going through my mind: what if it had already spread, what kind of treatment was available for me, were we looking at a cure? The uncertainty and the unknowns I had to deal with created a lot of anxiety, stress and concern.

After consulting with my urologist, family doctor and radiation oncologist, my trust in all respective medical professionals gave me the hope and strength to proceed with the chosen recommended treatment: radiation therapy. Receiving the daily treatments was well tolerated but the side effects were there; I experienced some rectal discomfort and bleeding during the first weeks of treatment and of course that generated some concern. The attitude and encouraging support provided by the staff of the radiation oncology department helped me greatly to cope with these problems.

Although the treatments of radiation therapy last for seven to eight weeks, the overall effect on my quality of life, including both my mental and physical well-being lasted for about a year before it returned to the pre-treatment period. I always live with a fear that one day the cancer will come back; this is where having a positive attitude and hope for a better tomorrow is important. For sure I have good days and bad days but who does not! My family's support and understanding was also a very crucial component in helping me go through that ordeal. The thing I emphasize now is to try to live a normal life, to the fullest, to enjoy every moment that is given to me and hope that the remission will remain permanent!

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