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Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.



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I was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years ago. I did my best to get all the information I needed through research and information, but the thought of having cancer scared me. So I listened to everything my doctor had to say--including that I could have either chemotherapy or surgery, but that with surgery, he would be more likely to get all of the cancer, since it had not spread beyond my prostate. I chose surgery.
But what I did not know--what my doctor did not tell me--is that there is also a treatment choice called structured observation, meaning I could be monitored to see if the cancer was spreading rapidly or not. He also did not inform me that prostate cancer is very often a slow-growing cancer, and that I could well have lived with my cancer for many years without either chemo or surgery.
The complications that I have experienced since my surgery have been very difficult and emotional for me, as they have included erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. I was very upset, when I learned about the structured observation alternative, that I had not known about it before I chose surgery.
However, I have had to learn to accept and cope with where I am now--that's life. I just wish I had been informed by my doctor that I had more choices. My complications have improved, but I still wish I had been told the truth.