After our prostate (or other) cancer diagnosis, many of us turned to proton beam therapy to fix it. Thankfully, it works pretty darn well, but there is an interesting transformation that occurs afterward. Not in our prostate or other tumor target, although that certainly changes after proton. I am referring to what happens in our minds.
You may recall that after proton we became slightly euphoric—maybe even a little crazy. We generally felt confident that the treatment did its job, and we had a high likelihood of being right about that. But then we began to expand upon the definition of the “job” we expected it to do. Let’s see, what exactly was that job again? Oh, yeah. Kill cancer cells.
If you were inactive, out of shape, mentally unchallenged … you will not likely have experienced a radiation transformation …
Now, I want to be very clear that I’m in precisely the same position you are about this. The advice I’m offering is a reminder for both you and me. Writing it was useful to me. I hope reading it will be helpful to you.
With one notable exception—cancer—proton therapy does not make us healthy, wealthy, or wise. If you were inactive, out of shape, mentally unchallenged, lethargic, foolish, wasteful, sloppy, inefficient, or unproductive before proton, you will not likely have experienced a radiation transformation of those characteristics. Proton is powerful, not magical.
I was guilty of a few of those traits (I won’t say which), and I’m working on them with a little more urgency and commitment than before. You can do the same to fix yours. Proton can’t, but we can. Pick one or two and give it a try.
If you are the kind of person who is constantly wary of the other shoe dropping, just assume it will and get over it. With the help of proton you caught the first shoe, your cancer, and gave it the boot. Despite that victory, it’s entirely possible that your previous level of shoe-dropping paranoia might be even higher after proton, but regardless: proton’s job is done and it’s totally up to you to purge your paranoia.
After all, stuff happens, and when it does you can deal with it then, just like you did with cancer. Unproductive worrying about what else could happen is a waste of precious time and energy. Wouldn’t it be better spent sipping margaritas on the beach, pulling down brewskies on the boat, or walking in the woods with your dog? I know that for some, controlling this shift in focus is easier said than done. But it’s definitely worth working on.
With the help of proton you caught the first shoe, your cancer, and gave it the boot.
In fact, I’m still working on a paranoid condition I labeled as TLS (Twitching Lip Syndrome) in an earlier post. Maybe you have a touch of TLS, too? Okay. I’ll work on mine if you’ll work on yours.
Were you happy before cancer? If so, then you should have little difficulty being happy now. If you were not a happy camper before, then even winning the lottery probably won’t help. Proton certainly can’t.
I learned from my mother how and why to have a glass-half-full view of life. Nobody’s glass is full, but neither is it empty. Take a closer look at yours and focus on what’s there. That’s all there is, so make my mom happy and enjoy it. Look closely and you might find a fine wine in your glass.
Even though we know better, after proton there is an overwhelming feeling, if not belief, that we’ve dodged a bullet and should now be home free—no more risk. But of course, that’s not the way it works. There are risks around every corner, and proton did not eliminate them. Some risks were reduced, others increased. It’s the game of life, which can be a lot of fun if you accept that there is risk.
We do the best we can to manage the risks in our lives. As you do, remember to ask yourself how you feel today, right now. Feel good? Great! Enjoy your day, and don’t let life’s risks spoil it.
This is the big one. We’re getting older, and the general objective of proton therapy was to help make that possible. We all want to stick around for as long as we can. But none of us relish the flip-side of that coin. If we live long enough everything will eventually malfunction, and no amount of radiation will prevent or fix that. Not even proton.
But what proton can provide is additional time for us to appreciate everything that’s still working well.
I remember the good old days when a visit to any doctor began with, “Hi, Ron. How are you?” Now, most begin with, “Let’s see … how old are you now?” As far as I can recall with my 65-year-old mind, this change began when I turned forty. My eye doctor was the first to focus on my age as a diagnostic tool. “Ah, 40. Oh, yes. You have 40-year-old eyes now. Hahaha. You’ll probably need these.” And so it goes.
… change began when I turned forty. My eye doctor was first to focus on my age as a diagnostic tool. “Ah, 40 …
Try this: Make a list of everything about you and your life that needed fixing just before proton. Be sure to include cancer on that list. Now cross out everything you expected proton to fix. Your list should then be exactly one item shorter. We’re not finished.
Now put a check mark next to three other things you have the power to possibly fix.
Great! Now fix them. Proton did its job. Let’s do ours.
Have I overlooked any other things proton can’t fix? to let me know—thanks!