Friday 28 June 2024

Men's things - XI

Generational medicine involves talking

It is one of those unspoken things that even became the butt of a joke and some rather frank talk, though, I am not laughing now. Along the way, I have not acknowledged certain conditions that have appeared in the family, that medicine would consider factors indicative of a predilection to that condition.

This area of generational medical history is somewhat more developed in female medicine, like if breast cancer has been diagnosed in one member of the family with any degree of consanguinity, other females are advised to undergo tests and attend to a regular monitoring of their health to catch issues early. Some females even take radical precautionary measures if genetics suggest a susceptibility.

Reluctantly, it was during an eye test a few years ago that I volunteered the information that someone else in the family had glaucoma. I did not and do not, but that information alone meant from that time on, my eye tests were free on the NHS. When the patriarch did attribute certain chronic health issues to the prostate, I found myself dismissing the concern as that of a hypochondriac. [Refer to the first sentence of this blog, for the context.]

The cancer you can see

Prostate cancer is now an issue to deal with but differently from when I first had cancer some 15 years ago. Then with Kaposi’s sarcoma, I saw it appearing for almost a year like the slight irritation of Athlete’s foot that did not respond to any fungal treatments and then a discolouration that I ignored even as others where noticing that my health was beginning to deteriorate. I just put a brave face on things and continued as I always did.

Then, it became a painful weeping sore, at which point, it is was stupidity that took hold, I could weather this problem, I thought. Just bandage up the foot and walk, it was bearable enough until it became unbearable. When I finally went to see my doctor, if there was any alarm in her voice, she was as measured as she could be, as she said, “This is serious, I need to refer you.”

She probably had seen many presentations of late cases like mine before, her urgency coupled with care and understanding without any judgement, condescension, or condemnation was very helpful in accepting the seriousness of my condition. I could feel the cancer, I could see it too, it was utterly dreadful and thankfully something could be done about it.

Appreciating the graveness of my condition was exemplified in the statement of my consultant, just two weeks later. “We can treat this,” he said, “but it depends on how your body can take the treatment.” He continued. “If you can tolerate the treatment, you’ll be fine, if not, you probably have five weeks.” Five weeks! Life could have ended before the end of 2009.

A different prospect presents

With prostate cancer, everything is internal, the biopsies would suggest cancer has been detected very early and again something can be done about it. Apart from the results of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test that led to the Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) suggesting an enlarged prostate and so, a multiparametric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (mpMRI) scan, and consequently an ultrasound-guided transperineal prostate biopsy, these are all internal medical indicators, I feel fine and well.

The weight of this situation is inferred in many other ways, as being added to the National Cancer Registry with a diagnosis and the initial prospect of treatment options that on the face of it have no particularly pleasant outcomes.

The invisibility of this invasion on my particularities and what might portend has me in a dalliance of disbelief and anxiety. I am steeling myself, not with substance abuse, but with the encouragement of the Word of God.

It is probably a kind of delayed shock too; I am here with my partner, and it is difficult to bring up the subject in the first instance and then begin to assess the situation. Yet, we must face up to what we intend the outcomes to be, first with myself and then together. It feels like we are hardly anywhere there.

Why I am writing about this

Any health condition is difficult to talk or write about, especially among men and even more so when it comes to men’s things. Black men are too macho for such talk.

I took the PSA test as an add-on blood test in trying to address an anaemic situation that I had tracked through two previous sets of results that were indicative of a deficiency in vitamin B12, iron, or folate (vitamin B9).

Years ago, I had folic acid deficiency anaemia and knowing that it is essential in binding other vital vitamins and minerals for good health, I wanted my doctor to address it, this has given rise to a series of Men’s things blogs.

One alarming statistic is, 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. [Prostate Cancer UK], I don’t know if 1 in 100 or even 1 in 1,000 black men get the basic PSA test to forestall any indication of prostate activity for medical intervention. I reproduce the information from the Prostate Cancer UK website below:

You may also be more likely to get prostate cancer as a Black man if:

As for my journey, I already have a diagnosis and will avail myself of all medical expertise available strengthened by faith whatever the situation. We never quit living and living well.

Blog - Men's things

Blog - Men'sthings - II

Blog - Men's things - III

Blog - Men's things - IV

Blog - Men's things - V

Blog - Men's things - VI

Blog - Men's things - VII

Blog - Men's things - VIII

Blog - Men's things - IX

Blog - Men's things - X

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