It is crucial to know all the side effects of the medication and surgeries you receive before starting cancer treatment.
Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
I knew I had prostate cancer prior to the official diagnosis because of the bloodwork results, and because I listened to the doctor and nurses talk during the biopsy. So I went ahead and got a second opinion in New York City.
I was told, "If you don't have this removed it will kill you.” So my choice was made. I would get the surgery.
What I wasn't told outright is exactly what this surgery itself would do to me and what side effects I would most likely experience from the medications that followed.
The surgery alone took away any real hope for sexual activity without some sort of artificial intervention like an injection in the penis to get an erection. As I was led to believe that I got nerve-sparing surgery, I found out sometime after that wasn't the case.
The medications and hormonal therapy has side effects that could have been minimized if I knew about them before getting my medication. I was given Eligard (Leuprolide) and found out on my own that there would be genitalia shrinkage and breast enlargement, neither of which will return to normal if the medication is stopped. There were also mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats. But again, on my own research, I found out that the breast enlargement could have been minimized with radiation if done prior to the medication being given for best results.
These types of medications will also cause some fatigue and will cause weight gain, mostly in the form of belly fat, as well as muscle mass loss. Both of these can be somewhat controlled with exercise and diet, but things for me have not returned to pre-medication levels, even after losing 50 pounds with exercise and dietary changes.
I can only recommend that if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, at least get a second opinion on treatments and do your own research. Ask what medications your doctor wants to give you so you can get your own information and satisfy yourself as to what to expect before you take any medications or make any choices on available treatment.
I made the choice to have my prostate removed, but had I realized what this really meant in terms of my emotional and physical being, I may very well have decided upon another route, having done a tremendous amount of research post surgery. Educate yourself!