Patient tips Life after a prostate cancer diagnosis exists. Five things I’ve learned since my last treatment

Life after a prostate cancer diagnosis exists. Five things I’ve learned since my last treatment

In 2018, during a routine blood draw required for a new insurance policy, Brian M. discovered he may have prostate cancer. The news stunned Brian who had experienced staggering personal losses in the 18 months before his diagnosis. He lost five loved ones, including his mother, brother-in-law, and best friend. Brian knew firsthand how fragile life could be. He wanted another 40 years of marriage with his wife Libbie. He wanted to be there for his kids and to watch his sweet grandkids grow up. Brian committed to researching everything he could find about prostate cancer treatment options and oncologists to consider. Extensive online research led him to City of Hope Phoenix, the Cancer Fighters® community and Farshid Sadeghi, MD. Dr. Sadeghi oversaw Brian’s treatment plan, which included surgery and three months of radiation therapy. After his last treatment, Brian began to ask himself, “What’s next?” Here, he shares the five ways he’s answered that question.

  1. Focus on your mental, spiritual and physical health. After treatment, one area I was working on was to not let negative thoughts take over. Mentally, I had to come up with solutions when I felt triggered. For me, this meant learning that changing my story and how I mentally thought about it was a must. Instead of always saying that I had cancer, I now say in my past, I had health issues. I no longer “own” cancer on a daily basis and that helps change my state. I have daily affirmations that also help me stay centered. One affirmation I often repeat: I am a loving, strong and caring man. I am confident and bold. I am steadfast and secure in providing for myself and my family. I like myself and I share my love, peace and happiness with those around me. Another area I knew I needed to overhaul was my physical health. I started eating healthy, joined a training program and met with a nutritionist to better understand my own body’s needs. I also have invested in a few pieces of equipment for my own gym, including a massage chair, elliptical trainer and sauna. Lastly, I knew I wanted to reexamine my commitment to God. I am a strong man of faith. After my own diagnosis, I wanted to embody the servant's heart and help others through their walks with cancer. Beyond that, I have also begun meditating and have found this helpful in creating peace and harmony in my life.
  2. Find your passion. It may help to ask yourself, “What do I love? What do I really want out of life? What is my passion that really drives me toward my ultimate purpose in life? What is my new why?” For me, my new “why” was centered around giving back to those who have helped me. I volunteer at City of Hope, and often take calls or share a meal with friends who are navigating a cancer diagnosis. I also find it’s important to share my story as a patient with care team members too, so they know how meaningful they are to all patients and caregivers. I am always in the process of discovering what my “why” is, “I am a work in progress!”
  3. Be open to new opportunities. You did it. You overcame cancer! You realize you can jump straight into new beginnings and use your years of hard-earned knowledge to thrive in new opportunities that could present themselves just for you. Stay open minded and be ready to say yes to new opportunities to enhance and better your life. At the encouragement of my wife, I invested in a Tony Robbins program. I have traveled with this group, attended classes together and have made deep friendships. I have done things I would have never done with this group, such as white water rafting and rappelling waterfalls to name a few. I said “yes” to an adventure that felt right for me.
  4. Step outside of your comfort zone. For me, stepping out of my comfort zone had a lot to do with my identity as a man. My wife and I, after 27 years, decided to sell our landscape construction firm. Our company was running at peak state and setting record yearly sales. After the transaction was completed, I soon realized that I had to face the challenge of what to do with the proceeds of this sale along with properly completing my estate planning. I also sold our Washington state property and moved full time to our Arizona home. Leaving our family in Washington was also a move that took me out of my comfort zone, but it solidified our retirement portfolio and has created a path to volunteer at City of Hope.

  5. Be honest with yourself. It’s important to take inventory of how you feel–emotionally, spiritually, physically–frequently. Parts of your life may look different after a cancer diagnosis and it’s OK to acknowledge that. When I look at my life now, I choose to celebrate every personal achievement–big and small I’m making for my life, my family and our future. This keeps me moving forward and confident, knowing that I am good enough just as I am, as I continue to improve on everything in my life and commit to never giving up.

A cancer journey can be overwhelming.

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