“You Have the Power Over Your Future!”

I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled, says Joel Nowak, who’s fighting Stage IV prostate cancer—and helping others do the same.

By
Lindsay Bosslett
Prostate Cancer, patient story

I learned that ultimately I was responsible for my own decisions, not my doctors—so I needed to help them as much as they have to help me. I have become an empowered patient—and that has made all the difference.”

Accept the treatment you choose. “First, educate yourself about all the options out there that can treat your prostate cancer,” Joel says. “Then once you’ve weighed all the pros and cons with your doctor, don’t agonize over the choice you make. There is no right or wrong treatment, no right or wrong answer. If you choose a treatment and it doesn’t work, you can try another. Everyone is different, everybody is different and no one can tell you for sure how well something will work on your body.

Agonizing over regret is just going to make you miserable. Make your choice and move on. Each day is a new day and a new chance to make a different choice, once you have more information to base it on.”

Don’t let statistics get you down. “Your first instinct is probably going to be to ask your doctor, ‘Doc, how long do I have?’ but the truth is he or she doesn’t really know. You could have many, many years left! Statistics only tell you a group trend; they don’t tell you anything about how well a treatment is going to work for you, an individual.”

• Anticipate treatment side effects. “The only treatment that doesn’t have side effects is no treatment, and that choice means dying from cancer,” Joel says. “Surgery, radiation, chemo, hormones—they all have different side effects. Research what they will be so you know and aren’t surprised. Then it’s much easier to power through them. And you can better plan for ways to deal with them, whether it’s by getting an antinausea medication prescription or something that offsets impotency.”

Published
June 2014