Today I will attend a webinar hosted by The Prostate Cancer Canada Network.

The speaker is:
Dr. Andrew Matthew, PH.D.

Dr. Andrew Matthew is a staff Psychologist at Princess Margaret Hospital. He is a Clinician-Investigator in the Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, and a member of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, in the Departments of Surgery and Psychiatry. For the past 17 years, he has worked in clinical and health psychology. Andrew’s current clinical/research focus involves all urologic cancers (Prostate, Testicular, Bladder, and Kidney) and includes prostate cancer prevention, treatment decision-making, sexual rehabilitation and patient quality of life. He co-developed the Princess Margaret Hospital Prostate Cancer Rehabilitation Clinic/Program designed to assist couples adapt to sexual changes and urinary incontinence post cancer treatment.
Prostate Cancer and Survivorship

I’d like to say I’m unfamiliar with this topic but I’m not. Here is some of what I experienced when in 2004 my father passed away from cancer. It started off as prostate cancer metastasized and spread throughout his body. He ignored the signs and symptoms like so many men do. Toward the end he signed a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. The hospital, by that time had taken a fair amount of his innards 1 piece at a time. A foot of intestine here, a lump of liver there a pinch of pancreas, a sliver of spleen.

I remember being hurt by him signing that DNR, but it was his life, his journey, his choice on how to end that journey as he saw fit. I expressed my concern about giving up or giving in.

It was a tough talk, but the cancer had done what it was intended to do and spread throughout his once robust 6′ 1” frame, which in his retirement had developed a bit more with a spare tire addition round his waist. That however, had disappeared when he had signed the papers. Removing various internal organs and or parts of them will do that.

Being forced to eat hospital food in palliative care doesn’t help either.

Nor do the offerings of chemotherapy and radiation that so many diagnosed with cancer go through.

I remember his last days. I spent as much time as I could with him. One day he asked me to shave his face for him, he had gotten so bad he couldn’t do it himself. It was a slap in the face from reality. We would not be permitted much more time together on this mortal plane. We made light of the situation and joked around as best we could.

I hid my profound sadness as best I could and he did the same. We did it for each other, not because The Patriarchy demanded we do so. We did it as we both wanted to make the best out the situation. We always did enjoy a hearty laugh.

I took 2 weeks off of a job I had just started to get as many of those sometimes strained laughs in with him. “Just a few more” I would whisper to myself everyday after visiting hours were over.

He was still my father through it all and was concerned about whether my job would be secure, because I took time off to be with him. I assured him nothing would happen, In reality I didn’t give a shit what my new employer had to say on the matter. My Dad was dying. The man who advised me when times were tough and smiled with me when things were grand, was wasting away in a hospital 3 hours away from where I lived.

He was half right. My Dad was a smart man.

I was penalized for taking the last 2 weeks of his life off by that employer. It was another Red Pill moment for me now that I think about. I didn’t lose the job but I was denied a raise at my quarterly review because of me spending those last 2 weeks of my Dad’s life with him.

I took 2 weeks and 3 days bereavement after the visitation and services were done.

I packed my tool chest and walked away from that company in an hour and a half because of that. I had no wish to work for a company that would not show compassion for an employee who just went through the agonizing process of losing their father to prostate cancer.

17 days was enough to penalize a son for loving his father. I won’t say my Dad was an angel but he certainly was not the devil. He had his flaws as we all do. He did his best for the 36 years of his life that I had been a part of.

He was my Dad for all of it.

There are two lessons I hold dear from that time in my life;

1) Never regret being there as much as possible for your father.

2) Never put money before family — EVER

In the end he became another statistic.

He was 71.

For that year my father made up 1 of the more than 4200 men who died in 2004 from prostate cancer in Canada.

With Movember here its time to put away the costumes and get ready to learn about another male issue that has been bumped to the back seat of society’s compassion.

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