April 27, 2011 marks one year since my cancerous prostate was removed. One phase of my life ended, and a new one began.
I wrote over a year ago about how I came to learn I had Prostate Cancer (see The Gleason Score). I went 34 days knowing I had cancer - I was given my diagnosis on March 24, 2010. 34 days isn't a lot of time to come to terms with knowing that you have cancer. I'm still trying to understand what it means to be a cancer survivor.
The important thing: I'm a cancer survivor. My PSA, which had been 3.1 in early March 2010, was zero on June 15, 2010. It was rechecked just a couple of weeks ago, and it is still zero. The biopsy on my prostate showed the cancer was confined to one very small area and all other tests showed no indication it ever spread outside of the prostate. The odds are very very low that it will ever recur.
Still, this is something I live with every day. Getting my blood drawn for the recent test brought back all of the fears. I think I'll always go through that whenever they test it in the future. I'd like to be able to say that I'm 100% recovered, but I'm not. There are side effects from the surgery and they haven't all cleared yet. My energy level isn't the same either. Hopefully, with time, they will.
It's kind of like I'm still me, but I'm a different me. It kind of reminds me of when my mother passed away in February 2008. There was a different level of connection when I was talking to people who had lost a parent that hadn't been there before. I'm finding that connection now exists when I talk to other people who have been through prostate cancer, or any cancer for that matter.
All in all, I'd rather have not had this entire experience. But being a cancer survivor, even with the side effects, is a pretty good alternative.