Each September, the nation recognizes prostate cancer awareness month to help defeat the third leading cause of cancer deaths among men. An estimated 27,000 husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, and grandfathers will lose their lives to prostate cancer in 2017.

An Ohio resident has been hard at work to ensure that these proclamations are renewed annually. Linda Hoetger has spoken with local leaders to remind communities of the pain and suffering of prostate cancer. As a result, more than 400 Mayors, Legislators, City Council Members, and Town/Village managers and County Commissioners will issue a proclamation or resolution declaring September prostate cancer awareness month.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My feelings as a Caregiver

Five years later…June 19th 2014 it is now 5 years later as a Wife/Caregiver to a prostate cancer Survivor! There are still good days and bad days of this horrible disease, it is not an Old Man’s but a Couple’s disease. Yes the men have the cancer inside them and have to deal with the treatments, side effects, PSA tests, Etc. As the Caregiver we suffer along with our men but in a totally different way.
June 20th 1983 I met my husband who was stationed at Rickenbacker ANGB aka Lockbourne AFB at which I was born there in 1963. Must have been fate that we meet! It was love at first sight and on September 28th we were married. I was a very happy Air Force Brat/ Wife now. Our four sons were to follow after that 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1990!  Now we are a family that will live happily ever after. But on June 19th 2009 our lives had changed forever. Words that a family never wants to hear. “I’m sorry you have prostate cancer.” My husband’s cancer is an aggressive form. For me when we were told it felt like it was a bad dream and was going to wake up anytime. Except it was not a dream it was real! Emotions were running ramped shock, silence, tears and then over and over again felt like hours but just a short time, The doctor gave us time to absorb the news and when we were ready to talk about the biopsy results were would be able to ask questions. But one question that I wanted to know the answer to was. Why? But there was No answer for it. As far as we know my husband is the only one in his family to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. His father passed in 1987 from a heart condition.  Ray went into the Air Force in 1971 and retired in 1991 while in the Military he never Stepped Boots in Vietnam. So the Military is saying that his cancer was not caused from Agent Orange while doing research this could be disputed. He tried to get the Agent Orange Committee at the VA to possibly give some answers but was basically denied due to not Stepping Boots in Vietnam. His first career in the Air Force was a Firefighter stationed in England. One of his stories of putting out a fire that puts questions in my mind and the response from the VA really upset me some. During the time of the interview a question was asked why he thought his cancer was caused by Agent Orange if he never Stepped Boots in Vietnam. My husband’s response was that while fighting a truck fire there were some barrels in the fire. The question from the interviewer. What color were the barrels? Were they Orange? My husband’s response I don’t know they were black when the fire was out. Interviewer if the barrels were not Orange then it can’t be Agent Orange. My training in firefighting is from what I have seen from things that have been in a fire they are black when they are put out. So needless to say my husband was denied further testing to see if his cancer was caused by Agent Orange. I know that it would not change him having prostate cancer but some answers are all I am asking for.
Being the parents of 4 sons and knowing that their risk of prostate cancer has now increased due to the fact of Dad being diagnosed is hard for me. I never want to hear that one of our sons has been diagnosed. My husband was 56 at the time of his diagnosis!
October 12th 2009 was the day of Ray’s prostatectomy and I thought and prayed that the cancer would be gone. Sadly that was not the case after the surgery and the doctor came out to tell me how the surgery went. The news was not good! I am sorry the cancer has escaped the prostate and into the Lymph-nodes. Again felt like I hit a brick wall, stunned, silence and tears. But I could deal with it at that time I had to see my husband after the surgery. I had to be strong at that time but it was really hard. After he was released from the hospital it was time to be seen for post-op follow up and the plan of attack for the remaining prostate cancer. From now on he has to have PSA tests every 3 months, it only takes a few minutes to draw the blood and takes days for the results to return. The waiting is the hardest part it feels like years before the results return. A stressful time but when it comes back as in remission they joy for the next 3 months. The plan is to have hormone shots for the rest of his life or until it is no longer effective. To this day the hormone shots are still working and have kept the cancer in Remission. Unfortunately I am having some growing concerns as one doctor suggested that Ray have radiation treatments done to see about killing off the cancer in the lymph-nodes. He had 7 weeks of radiation in late October 2013 to January 2014 since then his PSA has started to rise slightly. Does this mean that the cancer is coming out of remission? I don’t know! This is not suppose to be happening remember we are suppose to live happily ever after into our Golden years!

Now living the life of a wife/ caregiver there are two words that seems to be taboo to say Prostate Cancer. I can honestly say that until my husband’s diagnosis I never heard of Prostate Cancer. Since 2009 I have become and active advocate to raise awareness here in Ohio, and on Capitol Hill. With all the other support that all the other cancers, and causes that are supported in Ohio. Why can’t we add just one more Prostate Cancer? There is no real support from businesses like there is for breast cancer. One day I hope to change that and during the month of September which is Prostate Cancer Awareness there will be public service announcements, commercials, fundraising at the checkout lines. 

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