My Emory physician, Dr. Fray Marshall, and his team of urologists echoed Hamilton’s optimism about my prognosis and advised me of my treatment options. Because of my age, surgery was the best option, and I decided to have the tumor removed. True, the downside of this choice is not so appealing. I tell men who are fearful of surgery they have three options: death, impotence, and incontinence — pick two. This gets a chuckle, but it also allows me to explain that there are ways of getting through incontinence and impotence.
Before my own operation, however, I got more bad news. Dr. Marshall found a tumor in my kidney. When I heard this, I was devastated and probably scared for the first time. I recall I asked the old question, “Why?” and knew I needed to find the fight in my soul that I had when preparing for prostate surgery. A part of the strength came from my wife, who is incredibly strong. She comes from a family of doctors. She was kind when I needed a word of kindness and she could also give me that kick I needed when it was time to fight.
Even with this setback — not one, but two cancers — Dr. Marshall said the outlook was good. Ten days later, I had surgery to remove half my kidney. The kidney surgery was very difficult and painful, and the recovery was months. Every time I would ride in the car and hit a small bump in the road, I would get tears in my eyes. It was difficult getting any work done and I had to take a nap every day. After about three months, I started feeling fairly normal, but then it was time for prostate surgery. Getting over prostate surgery was easier and I was even able to attend my son’s little league baseball games with my catheter and bag!
I often tell people that prostate cancer saved my life. Had I not been diagnosed with prostate cancer, chances are the kidney tumor may never have been discovered. To this day, I thank Dr. Marshall for his thorough pre-op exam. And I also discovered the answer to my earlier “Why” question — we are all mortal.