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I Have Options! One Year After My Prostate Cancer Diagnoses

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It was a little over a year ago when I learned that I have prostate cancer, and it will be one year ago today (at the time of writing this) when I shared that news with the ACCA community during National Prostate Health Month. We thought it would be helpful to provide an update on what I have done over the last year and what I have learned as I continue my journey towards being cancer-free.

So last fall, when I was determining which treatment option I would go with, and I decided to go hiking up in the mountains to figure things out, and figure things out I did. I figured out that when you slip on a wet mountain top, fall back and completely tear your rotator cuff, it takes about nine months after surgery to heal. Yeah, that happened! My prostate cancer had to be put on hold while I healed up and went through physical therapy. The amazing part was that because I went to annual wellness visits and my cancer was detected early, I could put it on hold since I had options.

Through reading, conversations, consultations, and my own online research, I learned that there are several treatment options for prostate cancer, and everyone should do their research to decide what is best for them. Again, we have options when it is caught early. Don’t delay, and don’t avoid having your PSA levels checked if you are over 50 years old or have a family history of prostate cancer. While I have learned a great deal about the current treatment options and the emergent technologies, I cannot stress enough that I can figure out what’s best for me because I have time, and time equals options. I have learned of people who didn’t treat it early, didn’t have the simple exam every five years, and were left with no options. I want options, and so should you. Get tested early and put yourself in charge of what happens next.

My greatest discovery through this process is learning that I wasn’t alone, and I am pretty sure that you wouldn’t be alone either. It wasn’t until I started talking to people and asking questions that I learned how many of the men that are part of my life or whose circles intersect with mine had been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer isn’t something that most men talk about with their friends, and I understand why. It’s something that we want to keep private.  I can tell you from my experience that I felt vulnerable, that I was somehow weak for allowing this to happen, and in some ways, I felt as though I was broken. I have had men who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer reach out and share their stories, and some have called me back to let me know what treatment option they had chosen and why. We can learn a lot from the women in our lives by sharing what’s going on inside because that is part of the healing process. Talking about what we are feeling, and thinking is vital.

Because I have not yet chosen my treatment option, I am in what they call “active monitoring” mode. I have my blood tested every six months to watch for changes in my PSA level (I am currently at 4.71), and I will be scheduled for another biopsy to see if there has been further cell growth. I have added supplements to my diet, and I continue to exercise and nourish my body to be in the best position possible for healing when I receive treatment.  I cannot express enough how thankful I am that this was detected early to decide how I wanted to treat my cancer. Because I chose to have a wellness screening done through work and because I decided to meet with my doctor afterward, I have options.

Eric Knaak

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