When my late father Grip, was diagnosed with Stage 2 prostate cancer, he was already planning his burial options. Yet my poor dear mom was adamantly struggling to remove the denial and get him treatment.
The onocologist had already expressed to us that it was a progressive mass, that could metastize and kill him. And that scared the heck out of us.
I was the only son, with three sisters, and a deceased older brother who had died of an unrelated illness. My paternal grandmother died of cancer and so did her father before that.
As a result they were most definitely calling this cell attacker of my father’s, genetic. After being forced by my doting mother, he went through radiation, a cancer complicated surgery, and 11 rounds of chemotherapy.
I watched as my powerful father, who put two of us through doctorate degrees in school, just melt away. His big commanding body was being ravished by cancer.
A monster that is continuing to control the narrative in many families across the country. Because once it reaches a stage, there isn’t much you can do to eradicate it.
My dad died three days after his 64th birthday, and was almost at remission 4 years after his last chemo. But do not allow my testimony to discourage your hope.
First, my dad was stubborn, and was at an early stage. Second, if he would have gone immediately for treatment, he could have beaten the odd.
The prostate (not prostrate) uses male hormones called androgens, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), to trigger and maintain male sex characteristics and reproduction. Normally, the process of producing male hormones and using them to guide and maintain male gender characteristics and sexual function happens smoothly.
How Prostate Cancer Develops
However, sometimes something goes wrong within prostate cells, and cancer develops.
In general, cancer is a condition in which a normal cell becomes abnormal and starts to grow and/or reproduce uncontrollably without having the signals or “brakes” that stop typical cell growth. Prostate cancer occurs when a normal prostate cell begins to grow out of control. In many cases, prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer that does not spread beyond the prostate gland before the time of diagnosis.
Once prostate cancer forms, it feeds on androgens and uses them as fuel for growth. This is why one of the backbones of treatment for men, especially with advanced prostate cancer, is to lower a man’s androgen levels with drugs collectively termed “hormone therapy.”
Not all prostate cancer cells are alike. Prostate cancers that are composed of very abnormal cells are much more likely to both divide quickly and spread, or metastasize, from the prostate to other regions of the body. Often, prostate cancer spreads first to tissues that are near the prostate, including the seminal vesicles and nearby lymph nodes.
Researchers have identified various biological and genetic subtypes of prostate cancer. Although these subtypes are typically not yet used to guide treatment recommendations, they are the subject of active research funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Featured image: National Cancer Institute
You Are Not Alone
For over 15 years, The Empowerment Network’s mission has been to provide and participate in education, information, resources, support, preventive and advocacy services to men and their families impacted by prostate cancer.