To Tell or Not to Tell

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Tim G
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2366
   Posted 2/22/2008 11:23 AM (GMT -6)   
A recent thread discussed telling others about our prostate cancer.  I thought it would be of interest to post a link to an article from the NY Times, I'm Ill, But Who Really Needs to Know?, which discusses the pros and cons of telling others about a serious illness.

Age 59  PSA velocity quadrupled in 1 yr (0.6 to 2.6) 
1 of 12 biopsies positive (5%) 
Open surgery June 2006 
Cancer confined to one small area Gleason 5 
PSA's non-detectable

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 234
   Posted 2/22/2008 8:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Tim
Thanks for the article, It is interesting. My view towards prostrate cancer is tell and encourage men to be tested early. If Rick were working I don't know that I would want to tell is employer for fear that they may not want to keep him employed with a chronic illness that would make him miss work.

Thanks Again
Rick & Diana
Age 68/ 67@ Dx
6-30-06  PSA 2.54
1-22-07  PSA 4.98
1-26-07  PSA 5.09
Diag: 2-14-07 Gleason 8 Stage T1c PSA 5.09
Bone Scan 3-1-07 Clear
3-6-07 Triple Spinal Fusion (due to old back injury)
Radical retropubic surgery 4-2-07  Post surgery Gleason 9 Stage T3a Positive margins
4-29-07 PSA 0.02
6-9-07   PSA 0.02
7-6-07   PSA 0.03
8-1-07   CT Scan & Chest X-Ray   Clean
 9-26-2007 PSA 0.07
11/1/07 PSA 0.1
11/30/07 PSA 0.12
01/31/2008 PSA 0.3

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 686
   Posted 2/22/2008 9:47 PM (GMT -6)   

This question is difficult on several levels.  When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer I was already retired.  I did not have to deal with the prejudice of an employer.  Despite laws that prohibit discrimination, you and I know that your health is a major part of how you are evaluated for a position. On some levels I can even sympathize with a potential employer.  He/she wants someone who can "hit the ground running", there is always some doubt that a person recovering from cancer can do the job that they want.  In addition the insurance industry is the very large elephant in the office. They do not want any company to hire a potentially expensive employe.  The medical insurance companies will do all they can to eliminate high risk employees. That is another ugly issue that I won't discuss now.

We all know  that is wrong, but it is a fact.  So, I would feel very comfortable in suggesting that future employers and insurers be given as little information as possible. As little information as legally possible..

Another area about disclosure is more personal.  Do you tell your friends and relatives?  My answer from the very beginning has been yes.  I proudly wear my blue ribbon pin on my golf hat and lapel. I have some close friends who were diagnosed and treated about the same time that I was.  Some are very open about their experience, and others refuse to discuss it with anyone, including fellow prostate cancer victims. Aside from the rather insensitive who ask "if you can still get it up", most people I talk to want to be educated about prostate cancer.

So... I would say that we should all try to help by talking openly about prostate cancer.  However, when we are aware that ignorance might hurt our career chances we should say as little as possible. 

Biopsy 10/16/06
T2A,  PSA 4.7
Gleason 4+4=8 right side
adrenocarcinoma of prostate
DaVinci Surgery 01/16/07
Post op report,confirms Gleason4+4=8 , no extra extension or invasion
No continence problems
PSA results 90 day (-.01) 6 months (-.01) 9 months (+.02)
PSA one year (+.02)
Using Caverject/viagra for continuing ED problems (one year)

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2006
Total Posts : 444
   Posted 2/25/2008 5:15 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Tim
Great post and great question!  Like Lifeguyd above, I too am retired, so perhaps it made my decision not to hide my PCa very easy.  Nevertheless, I think I still would have been very open about it regardless of my age. Disclosing any type of cancer to others is very personal, but my motivation is to warn men to get their PSA tests and monitor their PSA starting at age 40 preferably, or sooner if there is a family history.  For example, I told my dentist, who is in his early 50's.  He was not having PSA tests or DRE's which amazed me.  I convinced him to do so and luckily he is fine.  I also want to help those disagnosed with PCa in their treatment decision making process if possible.   There are so many types of cancer, but PCa is very treatable if caught early before it reaches an advanced stage.  It is also one of the better cancers (if you can call it that), because it is usually slow growing.  Pca is so much in the news today--talking about it with others does not seem to be a much of a stigma.  I think the same is also true of breast cancer.  As the word gets out, the rates of cancer have been shown to go down because there is much more consciousness about being tested for cancer so that treatment can start early, hopefully curing it.

-69 years young!
-29 core biopsy 9/27/06 at age 68
-PSA 7.1, Stage T1c, Gleason 7 (3+4) [less than 20% in one area], Gleason 6 [less than 5% in two other areas], Negative DRE, bone scan and Endorectal MRI. 
-Completed 39 Proton radiation treatments 2/22/07-4/18/07.   
-PSA History: 7.1 pre-treatment; post treatment: 2.1 (3 mo.), 2.4 (6 mo.), 1.7 (9 mo). Radiation oncologist said the 3-mo. drop of 70% exceeded expectations and the slight 6-mo. movement upwards was not a cause for concern now.
-The following is a link to My Journey With Prostate Cancer -- Proton RadiationTherapy.  

Post Edited (pcdave) : 2/25/2008 3:25:07 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 120
   Posted 2/25/2008 6:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I too was retired when diagnosed. So it was not a hard choice for me. Interestingly, the day after I was diagnosed I got a brochure in the mail for some cheap term insurance. Only condition. no cancer in the last ten years in small print. Uncle Dan
Age 68
DRE negative, 10 - 06 PSA 5.44, 01 - 07 PSA 6.47
5 - 07 CT and Bone scans negative, 05 - 07 Biopsies, 2 of 6 positive
Gleason Score (3+4) 7 Stage T1c
08 - 14 Da Vinci RAP, five hours surgery
Some right nerve and all left nerve removed,
8 -16 Negative margins, Encapsulated, 50% left side
Lymph nodes 2 R & 1 L - Negative, R & L seminal vesicles - Negative
Gleason changed (4+3) 7 so it was closer to 8 than 6
Sixth month PSA 0.04 Previous PSA 0.00 Occasional stress drip
Results are improving while using pump. Pills no help

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