By Beverly Gadson-Birch
The month of March stirs up painful memories for me. Dad passed away from prostate cancer. Dad and I had a very close relationship. He was not just close to me but to all his children. It didn’t matter how old we were or what type of activities we were involved in, you betcha dad would be sitting on the sideline cheering us on. The best way to honor my dad’s memory is by providing information that could possibly extend or save lives. The best way to honor dad is to hopefully bring awareness to other men who think “it won’t happen to me”.
Prostate cancer is high among blacks. According to WebMD, “There are often no early prostrate cancer symptoms. Prostate cancer treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, hormonal therapy and/or radiation. In some instances, doctors recommend “watchful waiting.”
SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE CANCER-
• A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
• Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
• A weak or interrupted urinary stream
• Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
• Inability to urinate standing up
• A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
• Blood in urine or semen
WebMD went to say, “These are not symptoms of the cancer itself; instead, they are caused by the blockage from the cancer growth in the prostrate. They can also be caused by an enlarged, noncancerous prostate or by a urinary tract infection.”
SYMPTOMS OF ADVANCED PROSTATE CANCER INCLUDE:
• Dull, deep pain or stiffness in the pelvis, lower back, ribs, or upper thighs; pain the bones of those areas
• Loss of weight and appetite, fatigue, nausea or vomiting
• Swelling of the lower extremitie
• Weakness or paralysis in the lower limbs, often with constipation (WebMD)
Now, y’all know, I am not a doctor and I ain’t trying to be. What I do know is prostate cancer is no joke. This is about awareness. Consult your doctor immediately if you have any of the above symptoms. I am fully aware of many of the symptoms from WebMD. It was during my many trips with dad to the doctor and lab that I learned about prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is not an easy subject for men to discuss with their partner. Some men consider prostate cancer shameful and tend to hide the disease; however, the shame is not getting help if the cancer is treatable and prolongs life.
What would have been of great value to me when my father was being treated was the Gleason score. I had never heard of the Gleason score and how to interpret the range and where my father fell within that range. My sister was visibly upset when the doctor finally told us that our father was in the last stage. Since the doctor was able to tell through the Gleason score how far along the cancer had advanced, she wondered why this information was not shared with us sooner.
According to PubMed Health, The higher the Gleason score, the more likely the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. The Gleason grade tells how fast the cancer might spread. It grades tumors on a scale of 1-5. You may have different grades of cancer in one biopsy sample. The two main grades are added together. This gives you the Gleason score.
• Scores 2-5: Low grade prostate cancer
• Scores 6-7: Intermediate or in the middle grade cancer (most fall within this group)
• Scores 8-10: High grade cancer
Prevention may just be in the diet. According to PubMed Health, you can lower your risk by eating a diet high on Omega-3 fatty acids, low fat, and a vegetarian diet.
The end stage of prostate cancer is very painful. Take care of yourself! Be sure to have this conversation with your doctor regarding prostate cancer if you are experiencing any of the symptoms. Early diagnosis is crucial to the type of treatment program your doctor will suggest. Don’t put off going to the doctor because you fear receiving bad news or concerned about, what else, your sex life. What’s even worst is not going to the doctor when your life could have been extended with early intervention.
Dad, like you were always on the sideline cheering your children on, I am cheering every male on out there to get tested. This one is for you dad, John T. Gadson, RIP (3/23/2006).
Note: Health information obtained from WebMd and PubMed Health. Contact your doctor for more information regarding prostate exams and prostate cancer. Also, you can obtain a free “2018 Patient Guide” on Prostate Cancer online via email from the Prostate Cancer Foundation.