Grateful for the journey

My life has had a lot of ups and downs in the past year. I don’t want to recount them now. A few months ago I learned from expert medical attention that I have prostate cancer. Who isn’t afraid of a cancer diagnosis? But compared to the other tribulations that have occurred in my life in the past sixty-six years it was just one more thing.

Upon learning the diagnosis my wife and I began a series of office visits with different clinicians to determine the best possible course of action. I had three options. One was to do nothing for a year and see what happened. That didn’t seem reasonable. I thought that would be like sitting on a landmine hoping for the best. Another option was radiation and the third was surgical removal of the prostate.

Many relatives and friends stepped forward to share their experience. I’m grateful to all of them. My sister was perhaps the most persistent advocate for surgical removal. Her husband had prostate cancer twenty years ago and opted for surgery. In addition to them I had other friends who had relied on radiation therapy and were almost five years cancer free. I went back and forth and prayed on it along with my wife. After a thorough examination of all possibilities and counsel with my wife and the medical teams I decided to pursue the surgical route.

In the days and weeks leading up to my procedure I did a lot of thinking . I went on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi with a group of United States military veterans. I spent a lot of time in prayer there and in the quiet places I love closer to home. A few days before my surgery while attending an evening program at Mount Irenaeus an entire congregation prayed for me. A Franciscan priest told me he would offer his mass on the day of surgery for my intention. A former minister put me on his prayer list. Fellow prostate cancer survivors and their families reached out and slowly with their help and encouragement I moved forward. Faith is not the absence of fear. It is continuing to move forward in spite of that fear. Faith is walking through fear and trusting that things will work out.

The countdown ended the afternoon I arrived for my surgery. I was admitted to the hospital, prepped and put in one of those little hospital gowns we all know and love. I was surrounded by my family. My son left work early to be there along with my wife and daughter. The professional staff of the hospital got me ready and came an hour early to take me to the operating room. I remember the anesthetist putting something over my nose and then … I woke up hours later in my hospital room. While I was asleep a team of highly skilled doctors and nurses performed a robotic prostatectomy. I am grateful that such people surround me.

It’s now nine days hence and while I still have a catheter for the time being I am returning to health and wholeness. I have been surrounded by love and care. I have received phone calls, text messages and personal visits. My wife has been a private duty nurse who has had to modify our home to accommodate me. Each day is a new adventure. I have returned to writing again. Yesterday I was able to attend the weekly meeting of the moderators. Later I ventured out with a friend to a meeting twenty miles from home. I got a text message from the mother of one of my Python coding classes. She let me know that she and her son were keeping me in their thoughts and prayers. I am surrounded by love and at times it has been overwhelming. I am very grateful to everyone who has given something of themselves. This has been the good journey. In its own unique way it has been a pilgrimage which has led to some new understandings of life.

About Don Watkins

I'm a FOSS advocate, writer, educator, Python coder, Linux user, US Navy Veteran, Secular Franciscan, husband,father and grandfather. I blog about my life and experiences that give it meaning.
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18 Responses to Grateful for the journey

  1. Cindy Knuth says:

    Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. I love your definition of faith. I pray for your healing and strength, as well as for your wife. The role of caregiver can be overwhelming with the worry and anxiety at times. Sending you both well wishes as you continue this leg of your journey.

    • Don says:

      Thank you! Yes, Diane has been amazing. She is definitely better in all of this than I am. She is a selfless caring human being without whom I’d be lost.

  2. captwasabi says:

    You’ve had a long journey indeed, brother. Praying for your recovery. God Bless.

  3. Charlie Cornwall says:

    Stay strong my friend! Sending positive energy your way.
    I too have had a bout with cancer and relied heavily on the expertise of dermatologists, surgeons and ocular plastic surgeons to help me through this along with my awesome wife and family. Thank goodness all went well and I was able to keep the sight in my right eye. After 9 months, all is back to pretty much normal.
    I’m heading to Delevan tomorrow. Hope I run into you (not literally) along my 4 or 5 day trip!
    Take good care of yourself as we are not getting any younger!

    • Don says:

      Thank you. I don’t know how much I’ll be around this weekend. I have a followup appointment on Friday and I’ll learn if I can leave my ‘leg bag’ at home. Thanks for the positive energy and pushing some right back at you for your healing too.

  4. Lillian says:

    Don, thank you so much for sharing. Your willingness to be open about your concerns, and fears is an inspiration to all who know you. Having a wonderful wife, loving family and concerned friends surround you is a testament to the kind and gentle man you are. May you continue to recover and I wish you many years of health and happiness.

  5. Anne-Claire says:

    Oh Don good to see you writing – you were in my prayers:) I wish you the best and what it is you are meant to learn through this – listening to Theresa d’Avila, my life translated by Mirabai Star. Best ACF u

    • Don says:

      Thanks for the prayers. I’ve been reading a lot lately too. I’m catching up on some books I started and put away. I read in spurts and this has been one of those spurts.

  6. PattyW says:

    Thanks, Don, for your update!! We have been praying for you amd ypur family. So thankful that your surgery went well!! This was great news!! Love what you wrote…..”Faith is not the absence of fear. It is continuing to move forward in spite of that fear. Faith is walking through fear and trusting that things will work out.”. Will continue to pray for God’s blessings as you recover! How wonderful to have your own private nurse taking care of you. I know you are in good hands!! God bless you both. (PS…OpenOffice4 is still my go-to writting tool !!)

  7. Dawn Owens says:

    I have always looked up to you!! I will add you to my prayers. I have had the privilege to take care of many people over my Nursing/ Echo career for this diagnosis ( and others cancers). The power of PRAYER AND OUR LORD is the best option for all! You’re going to do well just keep trying your best ever day! God Bless You!

    Dawn Owens( Rudolph)

    • Don says:

      Thank you! You were one of my favorite bus students. I’m grateful for your prayers and I am out walking a bit this week. Staying close to home but getting in about a mile and a half each day.

  8. Dan says:

    Good luck with your recovery. I’m 8.5 years ahead of you and my one piece of unsolicited advice is to be patient. As long as you’re seeing net progress in the right direction, that’s a good thing. All the best to you.

  9. Linda Eckert says:

    So happy to hear that all went well with your surgery, Don. You and my other Franciscan friends walked through my family trials with me about 20 years ago. I could not have risen to the tasks without the love and prayers of each of you. You are an inspiration to us all. May God bless you and Diane and all of your family. I love and miss each of you.

  10. cinders11 says:

    You are an inspiration to many, myself included. I was unaware of your recent trials and i hope your recovery is quick and painless. Keep on keeping on, Sir!

    • Don says:

      Thank you. I’m doing quite well. I’m only two weeks post op. I’m doing kegel exercises and working on retraining my muscles. Thanks for commenting.

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