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cover of Hitchcox book

photo of Robert Hitchcox
A selection from:

Love, Sex and PSA
by Robert Hitchcox

(pages 57-59)

Many years ago the late Lenny Bruce had a nightclub routine about the emotions we experience during stress: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance. At some point in our bout with prostate cancer (PCa) we generally feel these emotions. Oh, we mask them in a macho front or, like me, in humor; we do tend to hide these feelings. But just between you and me, we still feel them. Let's take a look at each from a PCa patient's view point.


Our first denial came a long time ago when we said, "I'm too young to have prostate cancer. That's an old man's disease." Bull pucky! Give me your definition of old. I think old probably begins in the eighty-fifth year. Our life and death "hobby" strikes many young men. I read of PCa striking a 38-year-old. At age forty it would pay to have a PSA, earlier if you've had any problems down there or your father or brother had PCa.

We deny the existence of cancer. Boy, that does us a lot of good! How many of those 41,800 annual prostate cancer deaths were indirectly caused by denial?

So, in a word, denial kills.


Remember when you read "The Phone Call." I was angry! Why me? I thought. I'm only 35 in a 61-year-old body. I can't have cancer. Bull crap! I kept that anger until I got drunk. The next day the major anger was gone -- I had work to do. Oh, I won't kid you, there is still residual anger. However, since anger is counterproductive, it is best to channel it into positive emotions such as hope, constant positive attitudes, and humor. You know, all the emotions a good shrink would tell you to use. Just pick up a self-help book, there are hundreds of them.


Lenny Bruce's routine was a classic. Think about it for a moment. Don't you think it is a wee bit too late to try and talk your way out of our disease?


Oh, this is a tough one. I've run the gamut of emotions. Every time I think I've surmounted my depression, it sneaks up on me. Then, of course, I deny it. The following scenario took place at a friend's home two months after my surgery.

Victoria looked at me, "Hitch, you look really depressed today."

"Naw, just tired."

"Are you sure? It looks like more than 'just tired'."

"Honest, Vicki, just tired."

I know that the minute I left she turned to her partner saying, "Donny, Hitch is really down today. I think we should check on him tomorrow." And, of course, she was right.

Depression is rather insidious. It comes uninvited, seemingly without motivation. It has to be the worst of the emotions to conquer, but conquer we must. When it comes, if you can, try to analyze it to determine its source. My most recent bout probably stemmed from two sources. One, the PSA tests were still causing consternation, and, two, we were starting on the chemistry to get the old donicker back into its former mode of operation. Both of these anticipations are bothering me.

Okay, now that I know what caused my depression, I can handle it better. Not great, just better. I may not be able to conquer the depression, but knowing the cause gives me an understanding, which eases the depression greatly.


If only it was simple to follow the rule:

        Please help me change the things I can change
        and accept the things I can't change

We cannot change the fact that we have prostate cancer, but there are many paths we can take once we accept this fact. That is, in part, what this small book is all about -- acceptance. While we can't change the facts, we can do a lot about them.

We may be stuck with incontinence. Our next step is to live with it, research the physical and mechanical controls, and make the necessary changes to ensure an acceptable quality of life.

We may be stuck with impotence. Our next step is to live with it, research the medical and mechanical alternatives, and make the necessary changes to ensure an acceptable quality of life.

We may be stuck with post-treatment prostate cancer. Our next step is to live with it, research our next step, and make the necessary changes to ensure an acceptable quality of life.

Am I repeating myself? Yes! Accepting our condition and acting upon it is the only rational alternative. To sit back and say, "Alas, woe is me!" just doesn't hack it! We don't want to deny our partner that relationship we've had for years. We adjust, make changes, simply because we have accepted our circumstances and have gotten on with our lives. End of preaching, let's learn about driving.

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