Approximately 1 in 9 U.S. men overall will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and the lesser-known Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) affects over 40 million men. These are frightening statistics.
I realized, once I decided to share my diagnosis of BPH, that in order to bring awareness so other men would not suffer the same fate, I needed to inform women as well.
Women, unlike men, are miles ahead when it comes to taking care of themselves and their nether regions. Most women have a gynecologist throughout their adult life and men often don’t encounter a urologist until there’s an issue. Women are more likely to notice changes in their male relative’s and friend’s health before guys do or even recognize there might be an issue. For me, it was my sister.
Therefore, if you’re reading this, there are some signs you might have already noticed that suggest a visit to the doctor’s office should definitely be considered.
- He can’t get through a movie without using the restroom.
- He can’t go on a road trip or even to the grocery store without having to use the lil boy’s room.
- He missed a great play or goal while watching his favorite sport because…..you guessed it…..they were in the restroom.
- He can’t hold it……he has to use the bathroom as soon as he has the sensation to go. I.e Stops on the side of the road to go and home is on the next block.
- He wakes you up during the night to go to the bathroom multiple times.
- He missed a big recital/play/celebration/sporting event because……you guessed it….a trip to the lil boy’s room.
- He makes excuses when confronted about using the lil boy’s room very often. i.e. drank too much.
Now the above may mean nothing or it could be just a weak bladder but better to know than not to know if everything is in working order. However, if you’re shaking your head yes to any of the above mentioned, it might be a good idea, especially if they are of the recommended age of 45 plus and there is a history of prostate issues in the family. He may want to be Mr. Tough guy, or ignore your request to see the doctor, or argue that it’s nothing and you’re overreacting but the stats show that 1 in 9 men will have prostate cancer, and it’s even higher in African American men. Don’t give up, be insistent, be pro-active because more men die of neglect than anything else and this fate in most cases can be avoided with early detection.
A few of the reasons why men won’t see a doctor:
1) Men really neglect taking care of themselves, least of all when it comes to seeing a doctor for down there, let alone a urologist. We men all remember going to get our annual physical exam when we were younger. Dropping our pants in the doctor’s office and turning our head to the left and cough, turn our head to the right and cough. We had no idea what they were doing and were too embarrassed to ask…we’re still embarrassed. Speaking of embarrassment, the idea now of having a prostate rectal exam is not something most men want to make a date to have…..at all, if ever. They need to get over it! Those uncomfortable 5 seconds could save his life.
2) Lack of insurance is a big one. I fully understand the difficulties surrounding that, especially when I did not have insurance for a period of time. Not everyone has access to healthcare (which is heart-breaking) and I’m ashamed to say that even when I had insurance, I was neglectful, and I regret it to this day.
3) It’s not manly to visit the doctor. Which as it turns out is more behavioral than anything else. Men are taught to suck it up and deal with whatever ails us. It’s not manly to complain about a lil cut or bruise, aches, or pains. This shit runs deep. GET OVER IT! Prostate disease is an equal opportunist, does not discriminate, and could care less about your masculinity. Make it a priority!
4) Most men don’t even know what the prostate is, where it is, or what its function is, let alone if they should be taking care of it. Men in their mid to late 40’s need to know what it is, where it is, and what happens if it doesn’t function properly, and need to be getting their PSA levels checked regularly.
What does PSA stand for? The PSA test is the first step in the diagnostic process for cancer. It is not a cancer test. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is produced by the prostate in response to a number of problems that could be present in the prostate including an inflammation or infection (prostatitis), enlargement of the Prostate Gland (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – BPH) or, possibly, cancer. Think of it as a first alert smoke alarm, instead of a fire alarm. The PSA test is the first step in the diagnostic process for cancer. It has made detection of cancer in its early stages when it is best treated, possible. Additionally, PCF-funded research has identified genes, that when present, significantly increase the risk for prostate cancer. These genes may be passed on and increasing risk for sons AND daughters as well. https://www.pcf.org/blog/five-myths-misconceptions-prostate-cancer/
There is a very real seriousness to prostate health and its various problems which should not be taken lightly. Not only the big one that is the 2nd largest killer of men……Prostate Cancer….but also Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). In some instances, BPH starts slowly with urine incontinence, then possibly on to urine retention, and in some cases ends with the very same surgery to treat prostate cancer, a Prostatectomy. This is the removal of most or all of the prostate, in the case with severe BPH, to unblock the flow of urine through the urethra.
That’s what happened to me when I chose…..yes I said chose……to ignore my urinary and prostate issues. Once I was finally convinced to see a urologist and they ran tests. I had elevated PSA levels and my prostate was also enlarged which was a cause for concern. To check for abnormalities and the possibility of cancer I had twelve biopsies done on my prostate (hell on earth) and fortunately, no signs of cancer were discovered. Well, that was it for me! I’m done, no need to think of my prostate anymore. That was a HUGE mistake!!! I once again ignored my urologist’s advice to get my PSA levels checked every six months. I waited almost five years before seeing a urologist again. Actually, and truthfully, I didn’t wait, I was rushed to the ER after not being able to urinate…at all. It stopped completely, I could no longer pee. It took 7 tries to insert a urinary catheter to relieve almost one liter of urine from my bladder (another nightmare). I was diagnosed with severe Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and my prostate had grown to over four times the normal size and completely blocked the urethra. I thought I had dodged the prostate cancer bullet and prostate issues, so my stubborn ass went about my life. To this day I still think about what if I had been pro-active, what if I had prioritized my health, could I have avoided all this pain and suffering. After over three painful months of living with an indwelling urinary catheter, which became my new way of emptying my bladder, I ended up with the same surgery performed to treat prostate cancer.
All this to say, the impact of disease is not only felt by the person who has been diagnosed but their entire family and loved ones as well and it doesn’t have to be that way if you say something.
Thank you for reading.
Health is wealth.
For more on my journey with BPH, living with a urinary catheter, and more visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8cn5HqwH7ljv27EiCkoV9A
Written by Tony Alcindor