Making the Most of My 'Watching and Waiting' for Prostate Cancer

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During my "watch and wait" time for prostate cancer, I spend this time wisely on things like attending writing webinars.

Illustration of a man with gray hair and glasses, wearing a light blue polo shirt.

As a patient with prostate cancer, I’ve grown used to hearing my doctor say, “We’ll just have to watch and wait.”

I’ll gladly admit the overwhelming feeling of relief upon hearing those words. They mean that even as my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) might be on the rise, my cancer has stalled for the time being.

My doctor might as well be saying, “It’s time to take a break. We’ll need to revisit your status in a few months. But for now, you can put your worries on hold. Get on with your life.”

Of course, I’m grateful to learn that I can have some degree of normalcy in my life until my next consultation with the urologist. These “timeouts” have been part of my routine for 10 years. Fortunately, I have been in remission for most of that time, so that amounts to lots of watching and waiting.

So, during my breaks from active treatment, should I just stare at the wall until it caves in with a new diagnosis that the cancer has spread and aggressive treatment is warranted?

No, no, no!

These breaks are a golden opportunity to restore calm and fill my days with meaningful activities surrounded by people that I care about. In short, I now have the luxury of time to care more about the things that really matter.

Things like gratitude.

During this most recent hiatus from cancer’s onslaught, I have been writing to mentors who encouraged me during my 20-plus-year career as a newspaper reporter.

I have been putting pen to paper writing to former editors who shaped me into becoming a good journalist. In some cases, those editors have passed away, so I’m trying to track down family members to share memories of life in the newsroom and express gratitude for their loved one’s role in building my career.

This is just one of many ways I have decided to spend my watch-and-wait time.

I’ve also signed up for physical therapy where I’ll be working on how to address balance issues experienced from a long and troublesome bout with neuropathy and trying to build my upper body on the exercise bike or with light weights.

AndI’m trying to watch more movies and stand-up comedy shows instead of spending countless hours poring over newspaper coverage of current events.

Lastly, I’ve been attending many Zoom webinars for writers since I would like to learn more about how to write essays, memoirs and satire. That will be quite a switch from the more than two decades I spent as a newspaper reporter concentrating on “just the facts, ma’am.”

Typically, my doctor gives me three months of “downtime” before scheduling my next PSA. Because those 90 days go by exceedingly fast, I have learned that a positive mindset and productive activities help ensure my time watching and waiting is well spent.

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