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Pickleball players know that “in the kitchen” is a term to describe the no-man’s-land on both sides of the net that extends to each sideline. When a player hits a ball before it hits the ground while in the kitchen, it’s a fault (lost point or serve). Everyone on the court yells “kitchen!” at once, a resounding chorus of groans.
To hit the ball in the kitchen is a rookie move, one a first-time author like myself would do well to avoid when telling a personal story about his potentially terminal illness.
In The Prostate Chronicles – A Medical Memoir, I describe how I relied on pickleball, a wicked sense of humor and the support of my friends and neighbors to help me combat a 2018 diagnosis of prostate cancer.
I was diagnosed with T2C prostate cancer in May of 2018 on the cusp of my 69th birthday. What followed last year was truly an inflection point in my life and my wife Karen’s life.
Why write 200 pages of irreverent memoir when there are over 9,000 books about prostate cancer on Amazon.com?
I decided I would distinguish my book with what I call “dynamic cynicism”, to infuse humor into an otherwise catastrophic situation.
I decided to weave a story of my life with valuable medical information for men, spouses, caregivers, friends, sons and daughters. For example, I reveal my terror and foreboding with a comic touch in the informative chapter “Face Your Fears, Face Your Foley Catheter.”
I decided on the XBox approach to treatment and chose da Vinci robotic surgery at USMD Arlington Prostate Cancer Center. I became a caregiver when my wife of 46 years had an unexpected fall on the day of my surgery (“‘Houston we have a problem’: Karen takes flight”).
While I was recovering in the hospital suite, Karen took flight on the marble staircase suffering a concussion, shattered elbow, wrist and hand injuries topped off with a strained shoulder. Ouch! Karen has undergone two surgeries and months of physical therapy since that fateful day.
In the chapter titled “Building Your Army of Support”, I acknowledge my neighbors on Belvedere Drive, my pickleball pals, The Knights of Columbus at St. Mark Catholic Church, Facebook and Linkedin connections and, of course, immediate family. My Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity brothers from Oklahoma University rallied with prayers and support.
I have emerged from my 2018 medical “detour” as a survivor, an author and patient advocate. I contribute guest columns to ProstateCancer.net and serve as a moderator of online forums for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. My book is witty and plain-spoken, encouraging men to communicate with their doctors about “plumbing problems”, to talk openly about their PSA number and submit to rectal exams and biopsies in order to restore both quality of life and life itself.
The Prostate Chronicles will debut on Friday, May 31, with a launch event held in The Medina Room at the Robson Ranch Clubhouse at 5:30 p.m.