Surviving Prostate Cancer (cont.)
"The more I researched, the more confused and anxiety-ridden I became," he says.
Miller chose to undergo a radical prostatectomy, a surgical procedure in which the entire prostate gland is removed in order to remove the cancer completely and prevent its spread to other parts of the body. Today, prostate cancer patients can choose to under go laparoscopic robotic surgery, which is less invasive, more accurate, and easier to recover from.
While Miller anticipated his surgery date, he decided it was best to be prepared for the worst and had a will and trust made.
"It was the first time that it crossed my mind that I could be dead in two weeks and my wife would be left alone," Miller says.
The surgery went well. After the surgery, Miller was sent home with a catheter attached to a urine bag that he was to wear for seven days, and every one of those seven days he worried about the day the catheter would be removed.
"That caused me as much anxiety as finding out that I had cancer," he says.
Throughout the seven days after his surgery he managed on two Tylenol a day for the pain. Although it hurt to laugh or cough, Miller's recovery was fine.
Then came the much-anticipated day to have the catheter removed. Miller stood naked in front of his doctor, anxiously waiting for what was to come.
"First the catheter was deflated. I didn't feel a thing. Then he put his finger up to my eyes and asked me to follow it," Miller says. "As I was being distracted by the finger he slipped the catheter out of me with his other hand. What a ruse, but what relief. I had spent seven days worrying about this moment, and it turned out to be absolutely nothing."
Miller was then told to sit down with a Depends diaper underneath him. He was told to stand up quickly, and when he did that he asked Miller if he had urinated on the diaper.
"I said no, and he said okay throw the Depends away because you're never going to need them," Miller says.
Although incontinence was not an issue for Miller, he began to worry about impotence. Six weeks after the surgery, he was given a prescription for Viagra and told sex shouldn't be a problem. However, it wasn't quite the same.
"Thirty-five percent of men, no matter how good the surgery, suffer erectile dysfunction, and I was one of those," he says. "No ED medication has helped me so far, and the side effects are certainly not helpful. I'm at about 80 percent of performance with or without meds. I suppose that is as good as it's going to get."
Yet through it all he feels he has been fortunate. The biggest challenge he faced was the idea of dying of cancer, and he is happy he was able to successfully survive the surgery.
Today Miller anticipates his 10-year mark, the time when he will know he has completely won his battle with prostate cancer.
"Prostate cancer is not a death sentence," he says.
*Name has been changed
Last Editorial Review: 12/21/2006