Updated 12-10-2015

Stand By Your Man

The year, late 2005–I was, for the most part, enjoying life to the fullest. However, in November of 2005, my life changed faster than a New York minute. My Urologist informed me that I had prostate cancer. How could this happen to me?

I became sullen, withdrawn, angry, defensive and worst of all argumentative. What had I done wrong? I was, and still am, deeply religious; but I felt that my Lord had let me down. I was alone in a shell that no one or anything could penetrate. I tried to close myself to the outside world and was just going to let fate take its course. Had it not been for the love, caring and support of my wonderful wife, Kay, my children and grandchildren, I would have given up without much of a fight.

This section “Stand By Your Man,” is an opportunity for the spouse to share her insight, thoughts, and direction that have enabled her “Man” to face the challenge, and to do everything necessary to “beat the odds.” Men like me mostly try to show a posture of bravado, yet without the motivation and understanding of a caring spouse would be lost. I hope that those of you who have stood by your Man during his journey, will write in so that other spouses who are getting ready to “walk the walk” with their husbands will be able to help him in this time of need.

Please write me:
WFPCR Inc.
c/o Gil Seibel
P.O. 65086
Baltimore, MD 21209

Or email me at:

 I will keep all names confidential unless otherwise directed.

Thank you in advance

Gilbert G. Seibel
President
WFPCR Inc.

Kay’s Story–A Wife’s Story:

When Gil was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a radical prostatectomy just weeks later in 2005, it was a time of fear and disbelief and confusion for our family. The children and I had never given a thought to the possibility of a serious illness in our family, particularly of it happening to Gil because he has always been an energetic, engaged, physically active person. We were filled with negative thoughts, denial and worry.

It’s now 2009 and there are times when we’re upbeat and other times when we’re down. But our family is strong and loving and we’re coming to grips with the reality of prostate cancer and dealing with those ups and downs. Once, when Gil wasn’t feeling well and it was time for a Lupron injection, he told us he wasn’t going to have any more treatments; he was finished. At that time, he was being treated at the practice of a urologist where our daughter was a RN. She performed his PSA tests and gave him Lupron injections but also comforted him as a loving daughter. Our son, who is quite close to his father, told him that if he didn’t go for his treatment, he would simply pick his dad up, throw him over his shoulder and haul him to the doctor’s office and hold him down while our daughter gave him his injection. The love and support of the family and caring friends can do much to raise the spirits and well being of a man living with prostate cancer or help anyone who has a serious illness. Prostate cancer is not only a physical ordeal for the one with the disease, but it is also a mental ordeal for him and his family as well. It is ongoing; we deal with it daily. Feelings and reactions change from day to day. What sounds good one day doesn’t always sound so good the next day.

I’m learning that to listen is one of the best things I can offer to my husband. I need and want to know how he’s feeling; what he’s thinking. And I try to not let him immerse his thoughts so deeply into his prostate cancer that it takes over his entire life to the exclusion of the activities he has always enjoyed.

But that act of listening must not bring the wife down so that she becomes a victim of fear or we’re no help to our husbands. We need to take care of our husbands; not the other way around. We must try to strike a balance between the realities of dealing with prostate cancer today and not dwell on negative thoughts of what the future might bring.

Oh, and one last thing – don’t forget the hugs. Gil needs them and I need them.

Kay

Kathleen Johnson-Mother-in-Law of Gil Seibel

Gil has been in my family since Feb. 14th, 1966

I live in Macon, Georgia. Every Thanksgiving my friend Betty and I fly up to spend the holidays with Kay and Gil and my grandchildren. Due to my work schedule, I have never been able to stay more than four days. But at this time I was unemployed, having left my job in September. After getting our tickets late in September, we were waiting for Thanksgiving to arrive.

During one conversation with Kay and Gil a week or so before Thanksgiving, they asked if I would consider spending more time with them, possibly to the first of the year, since I was between jobs and had no reason to go home early. At the time of this conversation they had no idea that they would soon receive the bad news about Gil. For some unknown reason, when they asked me, I immediately said, “I think I will do that”. My reply was so sudden it took them by surprise and frankly I think I was surprised at myself. Never had I thought of being away from home for six weeks and could not understand why I had accepted so suddenly, without giving it some thought. But there is reason for everything and never in my wildest dreams was I prepared for what was to follow.

During the Thanksgiving Holiday, I sensed something was not right although we had a great time with family and friends. But there was a sense of sadness in Kay and Gil. Then on Sunday afternoon after everyone had left to return home, Kay said she had something to tell me. You can’t imagine the thoughts that went through my head when she spoke those words. (Mama, I have something to tell you). She then told me that Gil had cancer. She also told me that if I had a hard time dealing with it and would feel better at home, she would arrange a flight for me to come back to Macon. I instantly knew the answer as to why I had accepted their invitation. God had arranged everything for me to be with them in their time of need. I told her that I h ad come prepared to stay until the first of the year and that was what I was going to do. After getting over the initial shock of hearing the news I knew that I would need to be there for them. Gil went through his surgery which was frightening but he came out o.k. Then he returned home, Kay went back to work after being off for days and I stayed home doing what I could in their home.. His name was placed on our Prayer Chain in Georgia as well as at their Church, along with many people praying for his recovery. Coming home after the surgery, he seemed to be doing o.k., but he was restless and worried…but seemed glad that someone was in the house at all times. He did not want to be alone at this time and was appreciative of my being there, especially since Kay had returned to her job. He needed someone to talk to and give him encouragement. After he was able to drive again, he seemed to be in a better frame of mind. We would run errands during the day, come home and have our afternoon coffee and talk. Then we would have dinner on the table when Kay got home. When she walked through the door his eyes would light up and a smile would appear on his face.

The days turned into weeks and each day would be a little different. Some days he would be down, but for the most part I could see a change for the better. (he has always loved to “rag” me) and once he started to do that I knew he was on the road to recovery. Finally the six weeks came and by then he was able to be out and about more, spending time with his children and I knew it was time for me to head South. He still needed the love and encouragement, but he would receive that from his family and from me when we talked on the phone, which was often during those difficult days.

We never know what to say or how to act when we are faced with a situation like this, unless we have experienced it, but we can always be there to show love and encouragement and give support to the loved one. Sometimes, just the presence of a loved one can mean so much at these times and I pray that my presence for six weeks meant a lot to my Son-in-Law. Our bond is strong and I love my “teasing” Son-In-Law.

Above everything else, always keep your faith strong and stay close to God. He is the ultimate healer.

Kathleen (Grandmaw)

Diane’s Story:

When I first heard that a biopsy was needed, I was not fearful. After all, I felt there was as good a chance that it would come back negative as well as positive, so I chose to concentrate on the positive. But when my husband and I were notified that the results were positive to prostrate cancer, the fear that always comes with the “C” word showed its ugly head. But then, the fighting spirit kicked in and we determined to be a team and that ignorance was our greatest enemy and would only feed the fear. Our doctor was very helpful in providing reading material from which we developed a list of questions to take to him for further clarification in order to make the best educated decision on the treatment for my husband based on his scores. I would strongly suggest that one does this in the process of learning about the disease and deciding upon a treatment. This is a very emotional time and it is always better to have written questions and answers when there is so much to absorb. Once the treatment was decided upon, we faced it together and continue to do so today. We have been very blessed in that my husband’s numbers have remained good since receiving his treatment. I would advise any man who receives a diagnosis of prostrate cancer to fully share this fight with his partner and not try to fight it on his own. The old saying, “strength in numbers,” is very wise. The partner also has to deal with the effects of both the disease and possible side effects of any treatment method. Another strong suggestion is to participate in the Man-to-Man group. Both husband and wife can attend which provides a means for both support and education, and we have found these meetings to be very beneficial.

Diane

Bonnie’s Story:

The best day and worse day of my married life was the day my husband and I learned he had prostate cancer. My husband, like many other men, had no symptoms of the disease. He went (under my duress) for his physical as he did each November. His internist did order a PSA test through the office lab as well as performing a DRE. Upon my husbands leaving the doctor’s office the doctor told him that he seemed in perfect health and would be in touch with him regarding his blood work due to his taking cholesterol medication over the past few years.

We were both shocked when the internist called to say that his cholesterol was fine, but his PSA was elevated. His PSA was only 3.2 but this was a 40% increase from the prior year. The doctor recommended that my husband see a urologist for another DRE and perhaps an ultrasound. My husband did follow the doctor’s advice and made an appointment with Dr. Bruce Berger at Chesapeake Urology. Dr. Berger examined my husband and after reading the ultra sound said that he felt and saw nothing, however he would feel more comfortable if my husband had a biopsy since there is a family history of prostate cancer. He reassured us as we left his office, that he felt this was “really nothing”. My husband went for a biopsy the next week and again Dr. Berger said that he felt there was no need for concern, but it was better to err on the side of caution.

We were shocked and then somewhat devastated to learn that my husband did have a malignancy with a Gleason score of 8. I think my husband heard but didn’t “take in” all Dr. Berger said to us during our first meeting after his biopsy. Surgery was scheduled for 7 weeks later. In the meantime my husband did 80 sit ups daily, lost weight, and became a pro at Kegel exercises. I read everything I could about prostate surgery.

My husband spent three days in the hospital. The care and concern provided by Dr. Berger and the Chesapeake staff (the scheduler and the PA) was nothing short of excellent. We decided prior to his surgery that we would invest in private duty nurses during his hospital stay which turned out to be a wise (and expensive) decision as the hospital staff was sparse and overworked. The private duty nurse made sure I knew how to take care of the catheter and had my husband out of bed and walking the hall (much to his dismay) the morning following surgery. It was the private duty nurse who gave us the fabulous advice of buying basketball pants that snap up the outside of both legs so he could be unencumbered by the catheter as much as possible.

My husband’s pathology report came back with the good news that the cancer was localized and his Gleason score was reduced by 2 points. My husband’s recovery was uneventful. The worse day turned into being the BEST day of my married life as my husband was diagnosed and treated EARLY giving him a prognosis that every man in the same situation hopes to hear.

My advice to every wife, mother, sister, partner, daughter, and friend is to NAG, NAG, NAG….get the men in your life to have their PSA test yearly. From my personal experience I rather be known as the “nagging wife” with my husband by side than the “indifferent wife” walking alone.

Lynn’s Story:

Page was diagnosed with prostate cancer as the result of a routine examination. Lynn credits their family doctor with Page’s speedy diagnosis in October 2008. “We thank God every day that our doctor was smart enough to say, “It’s a slight change, but let’s be on the safe side and get a biopsy,” she says. “I don’t know where we would be today if he hadn’t done that.”

Lynn attested that a women’s support group would have been an invaluable resource when Page was battling cancer. “Women need women,” she says. “I would have loved to talk to somebody who would have said, ‘You know, it’s going to be OK.’ Try to find a support group.” After 43 rounds of radiation, Page’s treatment was pronounced successful.

Malvilyn’s Story:

Malvilyn’s beliefs in the importance of knowing your family’s medical history and preventive medicine were bolstered when her husband, Calvin, was diagnosed with prostate cancer during a routine checkup in spring 2009. Due to his family medical history – both Calvin’s father and brother have also battled prostate cancer – his risk for the disease was heightened. “Calvin has an excellent doctor who checks him because of his family history,” she says. “When he saw something that he really didn’t like, he sent him to the same urologist that his father had gone to. They were actually diagnosed with prostate cancer at the same age.

“I truly believe that if you go for your examinations, and if you go when something is not right, the doctors can help you a little bit more, but it needs to be a family affair for women and men,” Malvilyn says. “We need to know what Uncle John or Aunt Susie died from,” Calvin now speaks at churches to let African-American men know about prostate cancer’s genetic link and encourage them to get regular examinations. After 44 radiation treatments and four chemotherapy treatments, Calvin received good results.

Marie’s Story:

Marie’s husband, Walt, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2009 after his urologist noticed that Walt’s PSA was elevated at his annual exam. A biopsy revealed that three of the 12 areas sampled were cancerous. Marie’s initial reaction was fear. “I think it’s a universal reaction,” she says. “At the time you hear [cancer], you don’t know how bad it is or what the prognosis is going to be, and you just pray that everything works out.”

Marie soon found that knowledge gave her power. “I went on the Internet, and I researched everything,” she recalls. “I wanted to know everything I possibly could. The more information you have, the easier it is to deal with cancer, because then you know what you’re dealing with. Be informed.” Three months after finishing 12 weeks of radiation treatments, Walt’s PSA had decreased from 5.2 down to 1.5, and he is doing well.

Colleen’s Story:

Spring of 2013, my husband Rick visited his Urologist for his regular check. Because of his family history of prostate cancer (four uncles and three cousins), he had been diligent in having a PSA check each year since he was 40. His PSA had risen since his last test just 6 month previously so his doctor was concerned and did a biopsy. Early detection is so important. I went with him for the biopsy and then again for the meeting to discuss the report. I will never forget that day when his urologist gently reported that two of the twelve samples showed cancer. Although his doctor was very positive that we caught it early and explained several options, the walk to the car was very quiet. We sat in the car, wept and then promised each other we would fight this together with God’s help guiding us! Sharing with our adult kids the news was the toughest part but it brought us even closer together as a family.

After looking at several options, Rick decided on the Da Vinci Robotic Prostatectomy. After several recommendations, we met with Dr. Marc Siegelbaum at Chesapeake Urology for the surgery. What a blessing! He and his staff helped us feel so positive and cared for from the first meeting to the actual surgery and every visit after. Rick’s most recent check has his PSA at 0!

We recently attended the Prostate Cancer Support Group sponsored by Chesapeake Urology and learned so much more about prostate cancer and the research and treatments available today. Gil Seibel presented his journey, which was so positive and informative. For me, meeting with other women who were “survivor sweethearts” like myself, was amazing. Four women entering the room that evening, never having met before, became instant friends and supporters of each other. That was a real miracle! Ladies, encourage your guys to get checked and share your lives with other women who can support you in your journey!
Colleen