Lewis W. Diuguid

Improving health leads to optimism and investments

Updated: 2013-10-28T00:37:31Z


The Kansas City Star

This year has demanded long-term investments.

The car I got in 2011 needed new tires. The old ones had 50,000 miles on them and made more noise than the engine.

Next-door neighbors in the last two years put new roofs on their homes built in the 1920s. The gray roof on my 1926 house and unattached garage looked worse than theirs did.

Google also has sought a seven-year, $300 commitment to join its Internet Fiberhood. But I’d held off on the tires, the roofs and Google Fiber. Fighting prostate cancer first in 2011 and then its return this year curbed my desire to invest in the future. Stabilizing my health, to use a civil rights term, demanded an urgency of now.

Surgery two years ago and then a nine-week radiation bath this year opened windows of hope. My doctors delivered good news this month.

Tests of my PSA, or prostate specific antigen, showed that after surgery it was 0.1. But it climbed to 0.3 last year and then to 0.49 this year. The upward trend indicated the cancer had returned. The radiation apparently killed it, knocking the PSA back to 0.1. Before surgery, my PSA was above 10, which was more than three times normal. I blame genetics.

My dad’s father died of prostate cancer. So did a couple of uncles, and Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 80s, but he’s 96 now, electing no treatment because of slow growth at his age.

But I was 55 years old in 2011 when I was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive, potentially life-threatening cancer. It also didn’t help that African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world.

I wanted to do radiation from the start. But if I had and the cancer returned, surgery as plan B wouldn’t have worked. Surgery first made radiation a good Plan B, my urologist advised. I have shared my cancer journey in these columns and in speeches to encourage more men to get tested for prostate cancer and to seek treatment.

Many have called, written letters and sent email. Men have stopped me on the street and in stores, and we’ve talked.

They have shared their concerns, diagnosis, cancer journeys and complications. Men normally aren’t so open.

But with cancer, men need to be. Others’ insight is an investment in survival.

Those among us who are lucky bounce back. Staying active and exercise help.

Another must for guys are regular checkups with PSA tests and biopsies. The Affordable Care Act will be a lifesaver for more men. Each ensures a greater likelihood of returning to good health.

My five-year remission clock started two years ago with my thinking that I would be considered cancer-free in 2016.

But the cancer’s return reset the remission clock to 2018. I’ll be 63 years old. Cancer makes people think more about their age and the future.

But everything looks a lot brighter after my investment in good health. The new car tires I got this year are supposed to be good for 75,000 miles. With the ground I cover, the tires will last three years. I’ll be 61. The Google Fiber term will expire in 2020. I’ll be 65.

I added a new roof to my house this summer. The roof is good for 25 years. I’ll be 83 when it has to be replaced. The house will be 112 years old. I plan to keep the place in tip-top shape.

Doctors say I have a lot of good years ahead of me, and thanks to everyone for the caring help, kind words and prayers. More tests in three months will tell the tale and then every six months afterward to ensure the awful cancer doesn’t return.

Until I hear otherwise, I am investing in and banking on a good future.

To reach Lewis W. Diuguid, call 816-234-4723 or send email to ldiuguid@kcstar.com.

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