Posted 4/28/2013 11:29 AM (GMT -6)
This is being posted under my name, because I am a longtime member here and have attended 6 of the 7 GFMPH gatherings. The writer Sherry is someone I have been dating for a while now. She has a long history dealing with PCa and she attended the most recent GFMPH Baton Rouge gathering with me. Reading the post initiated by Bluebird, she felt called to give her first person account of her experiences. Many times we are asked to try to explain GFMPH, we come very close, but it just has to be experienced to really "get it".
I believe Sherry has truly come close to capturing the experience.
These are Sherry's words;
NOTE TO BLUEBIRD
Your Healing Well post touched my heart, Bluebird, and I am so glad you reached out. I want to share with you a bit about my journey and about my first experience at a GFMPH gathering.
A little bit about my history: I am a widow; lost my husband nearly 3 years ago. He (we) lived with metastatic prostate cancer for 12 years and hormone therapy from the get-go. He was very reluctant to talk with anyone about the battles he and I were experiencing. In fact, I wager to say he talked with no one ----- EVER! He chose to crawl into his cocoon the day he was diagnosed and remained there until he passed away (which by the way was not directly from PC, rather, he did not make healthy lifestyle changes, and as a result of therapy and these bad choices, he passed away 4 days after his 65th birthday).
So, from a woman's perspective, I totally "get" the prostate cancer challenges these men and women face, and the challenges their marriages face. Basically, I believe there are two choices:
1. Exist with prostate cancer
2. LIVE with prostate cancer.
Having the friendships of men and women who understand us and understand where we are and what we are dealing with, surely makes the choice of LIVING with PC an easier and more attractive choice!
As you know from Sonny's post, he and I are dating and he invited me to attend this year's gathering with him in Baton Rouge. He tried to describe what I would see and feel, but there are no words that adequately describe the experience. In a word: AMAZING!!! It was a time of great food and drink, laughter, music, TV, wine tasting, scotch tasting, cigar smoking, relaxation by campfires, and great conversations -- mostly about FUN stuff, but sometimes about more serious stuff if one chose to share some of their challenges or their husband's challenges.
I found that these men and women do not try to tell one another what they SHOULD be doing, what they SHOULD be thinking, or how they SHOULD be feeling and dealing with their challenges. Some talk, some don't. But even for those who choose not to engage in conversations, whether in the Sat. morning circle gathering, or in a one-on-one chat during the weekend, just seeing and feeling the zest for life that these men exude, is CONTAGIOUS! In a word -- these men have an INSTANT BROTHERHOOD! It is a place where they can feel totally free and safe. It seems so much easier to deal with something when we have someone walking our journey with us does it not! These men are from all walks of life, each on his own personal journey with PC. They are anywhere from early forties to late seventies, gleason scores from low to high, some have had surgery; some not; some radiation; some not; some with ED issues; some not; some with incontinence issues; some not; some with hormone therapy challenges; some not. As you can see, they bring ALL levels/stages of PC to the table, both on a physical level and on an emotional level. But, once again, no one is pressured to talk or share. Just being there in the pure essence of these folks causes one to look "inside" and realize they DO HAVE A CHOICE OF, "LIVING EACH DAY AS A BONUS AND CHOKING THE LIFE OUT OF IT!"
I so, so, so regret that my late husband (and I) didn't find Healing Well and GFMPH because after experiencing the love, camaraderie, and zest for life that the men and women at the GFMPH gathering have, I am 100% convinced that had my husband been part of this AMAZING group, his (our) 12 yr. PC experience would have been a different story altogether. And, I would even go so far as to say that I believe he might still be alive today! Who knows!
In all of my life, I've never experienced anything like this gathering. I saw two men's lives and attitudes changed right before my very eyes. They walked away after the GFMPH gathering with a revived spirit and a new zest for life. There were not a lot PC conversations going on, aside from the brief, private "circle time" between the men on Sat. morning. By the way, we ladies went on a field trip during that time; toured a beautiful plantation home and gardens, and had a fabulous lunch there.
These men and women have made INSTANT friends for life. They love and support one another on a level that is indescribable! They truly become part of one another's lives. They share all of life; good times, great times, not so great times, bad times, sad times . . . anything times!
I trust you and your husband will give GFMPH New York a try. I guarantee your husband will be shocked at what he experiences. You will too. I totally understand trying to bury the "cancer card" and pretend it just isn't there. But, when we do that, it consumes who we are and we miss opportunities to experience JOY! There is so much life to live; even if it is just for a day. It is a shame that we sometimes allow circumstances to rob us of our joy.
I believe strongly in Sonny's mantra for life: "Every day is a bonus; now get out there and choke the life out of it!" Obviously, the 12 years sharing prostate cancer with my husband did not scare me away from the challenges that this disease brings both to individuals and to their marriages! Sonny told me about his PC before we started building our relationship. And, despite it all, we are now planning a future together; living in the moment and enjoying every moment of life we are given.
I hope that something I have said will touch your husband's heart and that he will give a GFMPH gathering a chance to change his life FOREVER! Because it will change his life, and it will change yours also. Even before GFMPH in NY, you and he can begin building friendships with the men and women on Healing Well and look forward to meeting them face to face.
I'm hoping and trusting that we will meet one another at the September, GFMPH New York gathering. IT IS LIFE-CHANGING!!!!