A Movember To Remember


The mustache growing month for raising awareness and money to "change the face of men's health" is underway and the hard to see fuzz growing on my upper lip is gaining length. This year - while unplanned and unexpected - is going to be different from the others. Nine days into the month, I found out that I have prostate cancer.

This is my story.

About a dozen years ago, around the time that I turned 50, I began making visits to "that doctor." Men know the one. He's the doctor we don't talk about and the one that we want to be examined by least - our friendly, local urologist. I remember hearing friends say that the best way to choose a urologist is to pay attention when shaking his hand. The objective is to find one with thin fingers - if you get my drift.

Year after year I went for my annual exam and learned what it meant to experience the inconveniences that comes with having an enlarged prostate gland. I dealt with trial and error procedures that eventually revealed a drug that would restore some comfort into my life. As years went by the routine was the same - blood test, physical exam, prescribed medication and repeat. It wasn't ideal, but it was working. Or so I thought.

This year, as summer turned to fall, I called my urologist's office to make the annual appointment and lea. I was surprised and felt like I'd been dumped. The office manager told that I could either transfer to another doctor in the same medical center or find someone new on my own. I chose to do the latter and began my search.

By late September, armed with the positive recommendation of a colleague at work, I made my first appointment with the new doctor and had all my records transferred. Arrangements were made for the necessary blood tests and on October 6th we shook hands in his office for the first time. Awesome! Not only was he highly recommended, but he has thin fingers. I felt like I'd hit the jackpot.

During our visit we discussed my history, the results from the blood tests, and the exam that he conducted. My PSA was elevated and there a firmness in my prostate that caused some concern. A biopsy would be needed, but first an MRI would be conducted that would give us more information and better guide the gathering of tissue samples during the biopsy.

On October 22nd we met again and I learned the results of the MRI. His suspicions were confirmed when two areas on my prostate were identified as abnormal. Those areas, in addition to the standard samples, would be areas of focus during the biopsy that he'd conduct on October 28th.

Despite my anxiousness, the biopsy was surprisingly simple and pain free – lasting less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it takes much longer to get the results.

Cindy and I went to my next appointment on November 9th and listened intently as my new urologist reviewed the process we'd been through. Step by step he explained how all the pieces came together. The biopsy confirmed what was suspected and more. I have an intermediate stage of prostate cancer with an uncommon aspect that requires some extra precaution and review.

A bone scan is scheduled for November 18th to make sure that the cancer hasn't moved beyond its home in my prostate. I've already made the appointment to get the results on the following day.

I've been referred to a team of three specialists at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and will have consultations with them over the next few weeks. My treatment will depend on what the bone scan reveals. We're praying that the scan will be clean and that my treatment will be limited to radiation treatment and/or surgery to remove the prostate.

The reality of it all is settling in and I feel confident that everything will work out fine. I'm thankful for the referral to my new doctor and for the medical science that has improved in recent years. If you're going to have cancer, the Northwest is a really good place to have it. Our medical community is truly world class.

Getting Personal

I'd like to remind you how I began. It's Movember and I'm raising awareness and money to help advance the science that fights cancer in men. It didn't start out that way, but now my efforts are personal.

Please consider what you can contribute, and then stretch just a little extra. The following link enables you to contribute on my behalf. My goal was $1000 dollars when I began on November 1st. We can do better than that. Can I count on your help?


Thank you!

Add A New Comment

  • Your Name
    Nov. 12, 2015
    You can count on my help. Done deal, my friend.
    Sending love, prayers and good thoughts your way.
    Robin Johnson Lindsay

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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