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The Battle I Didn't Choose

My name is David and the doctor says I have cancer. Still. I have had it before. I had surgery a few times. Each time there has been success. It set me back in my training, I missed a few marathons, but I emerged with a normally functioning life.

Last week's phone call with the oncologist was sobering.

In October of 2013 the urologist found a tumor. He sent me off to a surgeon to schedule a radical prostectomy. I guess it's radical because it has two severe side effects: ED and urinary incontinence.

I got a second opinion.

The doc said I had a slow growing form of cancer that was pretty common in just about all men. Whew! He said they would keep an eye on it and let me know if it became a risk to my life. "We want you to go as long as possible without surgery. It's not a very comfortable surgery." he said. He sort of winced when he said that.

I confess it made my navel pucker too.

What did they find in this last biopsy? "There are some new cells that we have not seen before." said the voice on the other end of the phone. "These are more worrisome than what was there previously...

F&%K CANCER! I thought.

I know the 5 stages of grief. I had them all when I quit drinking soda and eating bad food. I was angry when I came out of denial - I was depressed and finally, I just did everything I could to be healthy.

I beat heart disease in 2011.

Then I beat cancer because I got regular checkups. I even have run nearly 80 races including 7 26.2 mile marathons! My effing tumor has seen three of the six world major marathon courses including NY, Chicago and Boston.

I confess that writing these words keeps me hovering between denial and anger. I will never bargain with God. I have learned to ask my loving Father for the things I need. As a good parent he is well equipped to give me what I need.

If you have ever had to say no to a kid, you know what I am talking about.

Having lived for quite some time in a medicated depression (which running has ended!), I know that I have to keep on talking about this. I am a great isolationist. I have made a list of guys that I can talk to about this. Two of them are pals here on MFP that I met at marathons.

I call one of them every day.

As grateful as I am for almost three years of managing this damn disease, we are now face-to-face and I am will be talking to a surgeon soon. There is one more test they are doing to determine how aggressive this form of cancer is. I would have a month or a year.

Or, like the heart transplant I was supposed to have, God could just fix it.

I have had a lot of thoughts about this whole thing. 12 to 16 weeks of recovery after 3 or 4 days in the hospital is not anything to look forward to, or get through. 6 to 24 months to possibly recover from the side effects is also a daunting task.

I know that I get to live through this. My friend Bill died of it about 15 years ago. He was 53.

Cancer sucks.

My mother presented with a similar option when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She chose to die without a surgery. I have thought about the too. She spent her last months traveling in Europe with the love of her life. She came home, spent time with her kids and died a horrible painful death.

My dad did the same thing.

I have had those thoughts too. My parents were both in the 70s. I am not even close to that. Because I am a faith guy, I am confident about my afterlife. That takes the pressure off. Then I had to ask myself what I have left to do in life - what's on my bucket list.

Other than traveling with someone who loves me, it's a short list.

I am jobless and working on my next book. I have a few trusted friends. I don't know how I will support myself if I am down and out for 12 to 16 weeks. I lost my disability insurance with job. I can't collect unemployment if I can't work.

It's a tangle.

So here I am in the middle of all this with you. The last chapter has not been written.

64 votes + -

56 comments:

Anonymous wrote 64 months ago:
My Dad had the surgery. He lived to sail around the world and took shots for the ED. Cancer Treatment Centers of America has great success with difficult cancers. Contact them. You have friends all over the country. Don't give up. Life is not a sprint, it is a marathon...when you are the most vulnerable you will find yourself lifted up on the wings of eagles.
joanthemom8 wrote 64 months ago:
I'm so sorry. I hope the persistence you have shown so far comes into play again. I envy you your faith... so much in life seems arbitrary, random and unfair... I wish you the best my friend!
KrysGettinFit wrote 64 months ago:
Thinking and praying for you, cancer does suck.
Leahbcc wrote 64 months ago:
You have defied the odds in the past and will again now...your faith perseverance and out look is a contributing factor in all of this...F*CK IT and you will show it who is BOSS...YOU!!!!
Dootzy1 wrote 64 months ago:
Holy buckets. Hard to read, but you will make the decision that most empowers you. Just hope you'll have the surgery and keep your spirit strong!!
Anonymous wrote 64 months ago:
So very sorry to hear this..you have many people rooting for you...My son is in the middle of testing for cancer..90% chance it will be positive..he is in his 30's
We are all terrified..
luluinca wrote 64 months ago:
I don't know you very well but I'm praying for you to make the right decision for yourself. Life can be brutal sometimes. It's easy for those of us not walking in your shoes to give you advice.........I say look at all the options and then figure out what might make you the happiest and healthiest for the longest time. Good luck to you and yes Cancer really does suck!
Anonymous wrote 64 months ago:
David, I don't know what to say. My heart... My whole heart goes out to you. I am so tired of seeing people that I love, as well as those I have never met, deal with cancer. I reached out to you a year ago about my skin cancer and you listened and responded. It was just skin cancer but it has forever changed me. I will continue to pray for you daily. ~Mona
Anonymous wrote 64 months ago:
David, I think of you often. Keeping you close in my thoughts and prayers still. Run on big guy, if anyone can figure a way it is you! - Ilene
Time2LoseWeightNOW wrote 64 months ago:
Keep on writing your words, David . They help many of us, that may not even be battling cancer. Sending out many, many prayers for you.
PlantBasedRnr wrote 64 months ago:
It is incredibly hard to " like " this post but I did. I know you are strong and resilient but sometimes you need a shoulder to lean on because you are tired... I think I speak for most of us when I say we are here for you. I don't really know you but I feel like I do because I read your posts all of the time and follow you on various forms of social media - I consider you a " friend "... This is hard for me to read because I know your story and I do truly care for you, I wish there was something I could do for you but just know that I will be here praying for you. Much love for you.
marlown wrote 64 months ago:
No words, other than prayers.
Hoppymom wrote 64 months ago:
I am sorry David. You have fought so hard. Please don't give up now. You know that you have a country full of prayer warriors who are on your side. I am praying that God gives you another miracle. That no surgery will be needed. Consider yourself hugged long and strong.
jlemoore wrote 64 months ago:
Cancer sucks. :(
nuffer wrote 64 months ago:
Hard to read this today. I have lost two close friends and my mom, and now my dad's dealing with two kinds of C. While they were/are all strong in their own way, what you've been dealt is 'way past them. You're so far past "hang in there" that I bet you couldn't see it if you tried. You're one tough hombre, one of the few that don't need a "good luck" because you make your own...
Anonymous wrote 64 months ago:
Adelaide A. Pollard wrote this in 1906 (it is what I'm led to share with you now David, for you to sing -- from M-Jeanette):

Full Text

1 Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.

2 Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Search me and try me, Savior today!
Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,
as in thy presence humbly I bow.

3 Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

4 Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
Karoger87 wrote 64 months ago:
Boost the immune system, look into Vitamin B17, look into cannabis oil, Make your body more alkaline. My mother currently has cancer and it's very bad. :(
angieroo2 wrote 64 months ago:
I hope you get the news you want. Cancer sucks.
lilacnine wrote 64 months ago:
Many prayers for you. You are a gem, a wonderful writer and inspiration for many. Cancer will not be allowed to win.
chrissy8420 wrote 64 months ago:
Sometimes we can't see the sun through the storm but it is still there shining. We just have to wait for the clouds to clear to see its beauty and brightness.

Just remember when you can't see the Son, he is still with you. I am praying for healing for you and keep your faith. It will all make sense one day. You are not alone.
Laura80111 wrote 64 months ago:
So sorry to read about this. I have been a blog stalker of yours for years and have really enjoyed reading all your ups and downs (of course the ups are always so uplifting). Prayers for you as you walk through another valley. Your faith will get you through this just like all the others.
Wysewoman53 wrote 64 months ago:
I just don't have any words right now...
HappyAnna2014 wrote 64 months ago:
Many prayers for you, David. My ex-husband was just diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and I have been shell-shocked. He is only 54, a great father, and the world is a better place with him in it. Cancer totally sucks!!
Marydrsaric wrote 64 months ago:
I'm a nurse and worked UROLOGY for almost 20 years,
Prostate Cancer is very SLOW GROWING, but, waiting for surgery probably wasn't a good Idea... even slow growing cancer can spread, mostly to the Colon first then the blood stream, and then the spine to the brain.
ED & Incontinence was the worst of having the surgery, looking in hind sight, that was much better then it spreading and reducing your lifetime. You have a PURPOSE, BE A PATIENT ADVOCATE and educate patient on Prostate Cancer and Options. There are other option available, medication may be a BIG FACTOR, Prostate Cancer is feed by testosterone. There are also Pharmaceuticals companies that will provide FREE TREATMENT MEDICATIONS, Only have to fill out a few forms.....I'll keep you in my prayers...YOU ARE NOT ALONE..........We are here to support you.
lesleyloo7879 wrote 64 months ago:
I have a friend who is battling ..... it has riddled his body, they have only given him 3 to 6 months. His girls are 17 and 11. He fights because like you his last chapter has not been written. Keep your faith, I send love and prayers to you. Know we are all behind you!!!
JenniferCampbell6 wrote 64 months ago:
Stay strong David. You are an amazing person and an inspiration to many. You got this.
addamloves wrote 64 months ago:
Keep up the fight and good luck. Just like everyone who has read this, we are supporting you!
Karin_Riesemann_KAR wrote 64 months ago:
David, death is not an option. Stay strong and struggle on. Use your humour, positive thougths and the good wishes and prayers of all your friends and readers to overcome this...i´ll send you lots of power and strength... You´ll make it.
jmnicholas wrote 64 months ago:
David, I have not stopped praying for you. Thanks for being so open about your faith, and the eternal life you're in receipt of. God is in charge, and for today, he's not finished with you here on earth. May you know His peace, His transforming power and His provision. He does give good gifts, and I pray you will be able to remember them in this time of distress. He brings hope, so I am looking forward to hosting you in 2017 when you come to the London Marathon!
nats2508 wrote 64 months ago:
Sending positive vibes, best wishes and hugs. One day at a time xx
pizzafruit wrote 64 months ago:
I don't know you but always look forward to reading your posts. I can tell by your writings you're a faithful friend and have a deep abiding faith in God. Hearing the doctor tell you what you never ever wanted to hear is terrifying. Like many others, I have no words of wisdom only positive thoughts and many prayers to send your way. Your guardian angel is most attentive when you least expect it. Peace to you.
Meghan509 wrote 64 months ago:
I am here as a fellow cancer survivor to send some strength and positive vibes your way. I am one of the lucky ones who caught my C early but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't worry about it coming back again. :( F Cancer is right.
Please keep strong and keep fighting. Good luck with everything. Keep us posted. Pulling for you, Warrior! XO
Pattycake755 wrote 64 months ago:
Like a few others said, I cannot add any more wisdom and thoughtfulness to all the positive well wishing here. I too am a woman of faith and I know that God can heal. You are an inspiration to me and many others. Your words always resonate with me. I also went through the five stages of grief when illnesses forced me to have to give up sugar, white rice, white potatoes,white pasta, all sugary drinks, and other junk foods. You just helped me to realize that many of us on MFP are still in DENIAL. I totally get it.

My husband and I will be praying for your healing. We need you to live and not die and to continue to bring humor and wisdom to all who will read/listen. I also believe that your last chapter has not been written yet. (prayers and love)
Connie7355 wrote 64 months ago:
Praying for you and sending you support and hugs. I always look for you blogs and really enjoy them. You have such a great uplifting way of writing that never fails to make me smile and look at things in a new way. Best of luck to you! Connie
LinOtt wrote 64 months ago:
David every one of us is both living and dying at the same time, but it is our attitude which defines which one of the two is what we are actually doing at any given time. Please don't stop living. I will carry you in my thoughts and prayers.
laurenislost wrote 64 months ago:
I can't say it enough: FUCK CANCER!
neldabg wrote 64 months ago:
I've only recently read all of your funny posts, and I had no idea of the struggles you were going through. I'm so sorry about this. I too shall hold you in my prayers.
solieco1 wrote 64 months ago:
David, I've read many of your blogs and thought 'wow, interesting' or 'wow, inspiring' or 'OMG this guy is funny', hit the thumbs up button and moved on with my day.

This post is different. This post has made me realize and more importantly empathize with the fact that you live with these things every minute of every day. I know there is little we can do from afar, but with all my heart please know that whatever strength and love we can send from afar is winging its way to you <3. Thank you. Thank you for being strong enough to share and strong enough to fight. You make the world better by being you <3.
LisaPrust wrote 64 months ago:
Dear David, thank you for continuing to share so beautifully your process of wrestling through the hardest parts of life! Your writing humbles and encourages, and like so many who have already said as much, I am praying and hoping for the very best for you. May you sense the presence of the Almighty near to you today, surrounding you with peace and increased faith for whatever path He is asking you to walk...please keep writing and sharing. Even from afar you have many hoping and praying for you and growing in our faith because of you! Sending you a hug from NC xoxo
thenananator wrote 64 months ago:
Good morning David! Sending you thoughts of peace, strength, just sending a piece of my heart today and virtual hugs and caring thoughts!!!! You are just simply awesome and strong and such an example of what it means to live the life we have been given. Keep pushin buddy! Keep pushin.
runningforthetrain wrote 64 months ago:
Hi David- I don't know you but I enjoy reading your blog; you are a talented writer. I am sad to read this today. Prayers and hugs being sent your way. I am in awe of your strength.
Redola wrote 64 months ago:
David your strength and courage is inspiring. You are in my prayers.
farmboyphotography wrote 64 months ago:
David, stay strong and positive. I am glad to see your faith remains steady. Sending prayers. Good luck.
HolDav1 wrote 64 months ago:
Sending prayers.
God is an awesome God.

thehadster wrote 64 months ago:
I believe in prayer. I pray for you.
TundraSwan wrote 63 months ago:
Prayers for you, David. May the Holy Family keep you ever close to them.
peterjohndean wrote 63 months ago:
I have had surgery for an enlarged (non-cancerous) prostate. The surgeon used an old-fashioned technique of open surgery which leaves me with an almost invisible scar but no problems of ED or incontinence. You should perhaps check what type of operation is proposed.
kittylocks2 wrote 63 months ago:
I am also praying for you. I lost a husband with cancer some years ago, but that is not always the outcome. My current husband was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1992. He was told he had less than 5 years to live. He would never sing again, much less preach. He is now 84 years old and has been cancer free since that time. Doctors are good, but they don't know or control the outcome of our lives. Just hang in there and believe you will be another miracle.
MaryQueenofWalking wrote 63 months ago:
I will say a prayer for you.
ruperthumphrey wrote 63 months ago:
There is not much that I can say that hasn't already been said. I have read many of your blogs over the years. I find you truly amazing in so many ways. You speak the words of so many that don't have the gumption to say what they are going through. I know it resonates with myself. I truly hope all goes well for you, it is a difficult and scary time for you. May you feel the presence of God wrap around you.
canadjineh wrote 63 months ago:
FWIW, ED and urinary incontinence are not the end of the world (even to your partner). My DH is 58, very active like you and although he does not have ED (at least not often) does have UI due to major surgery for bladder cancer and grafting of the urethra. He is cancer free now although he may need surgery in a little while for BHP. We are waiting on that for now. I still love him and we have been together for 35 years and will be together for as many as are left for us.

I personally think you should fight with all you've got including surgery, you have a good track record so far....
Then again we don't live in the US, so we have more options medically within our budgets. Do what you feel is right for you and your family/SO/friends. Whatever decision you make, do not look back and second guess; hugs.
upr3160 wrote 63 months ago:
I am a Prostate Cancer Survivor and choose robotic prostatectomy surgery. I did wait six months to retest but after my biopsy, I scheduled the procedure. I felt for me this was the right path. Three years later, I am cancer free. If I can help answer any questions, please contact me. This is a difficult journey but know that you are not alone.
jackflak wrote 63 months ago:
Dave, check out http://www.yananow.org/. Proton therapy was my path.
D_squareG wrote 62 months ago:
I just want you to know that you are in my prayers.

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