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Moving On with Life after Prostate Cancer

by Gerald Murray

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Being diagnosed with prostate cancer after a routine blood test was one of the biggest shocks of my life. At 80 years old, I’ve been retired for 10 years and have been living the good life. I have seven beautiful grandchildren. My wife and I travel to Florida every year. My daughter and her husband are building an addition on their home in Westport, CT, for us to move into. That’s going to be our “old people’s home."

Prostate cancer was something I had always heard and read about but never imagined would happen to me. I had been seeing my urologist for 20 years and never had any issues. So when I got that diagnosis last winter, I thought, well there it is – I’m going to leave this beautiful earth!

It took a while for me to learn how to face the challenge ahead. I realized I needed to get on with life. What else could I do? I’ve always been a bit of a high-strung person, but this just brought out the anxiety in droves. I realized I needed to stay positive. I had to keep busy and let my family encourage and help me. I learned about my particular form of cancer and what kind of treatment was available for me. I learned to brace myself to face the challenge ahead.

"It took a while for me to learn how to face the challenge ahead."

My family and doctors helped me realize I had options. I couldn’t have surgery because of my age, but there was some good radiation therapy available. My daughter Eileen took charge and researched this. We found out I live not too far from one of the best centers around with one of the top radiation oncology doctors in the region. Armed with this information, I learned to have a positive attitude. Plus, my family would not let me get down on myself, especially my wife, Bette.

During treatment, I tried to stay busy to keep my mind from going negative. My family helped with that. Suddenly, the grandchildren needed babysitting and things needed fixing around the house. Sometimes I think my wife and daughter broke things on purpose so I would have to fix them.

Six months later, I’ve gone through 40 days of treatments and weekly follow-up visits, and I’m feeling great.

I would not wish the experience of having cancer on anyone. But if it has to happen, I wish people could have as positive an experience as I did. I’ve learned how important it is to keep an optimistic attitude and to stay busy. I realized my family was my backup; they helped me through it. And I realized I had to get on with life, because what else could I do?

I sure am glad that I did.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Gerald Murray is a retired insurance inspector. He lives in Fairfield, CT, with his wife, Bette.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/February 2009.