So. My friend says “I have prostate cancer”

I heard these words a couple of weeks ago and it has taken me some time to get my head wrapped around this and gather my thoughts. But I think I am ready now.

So. Somewhere in one of my best friend’s emails probably after an inappropriate joke and asking me about how I was doing now that Tigger has passed away he casually throws in …

“Hey, I have prostate cancer.”

Umm, what?

“Oh, but I caught it early and it is treatable so I should be good.”

Umm, (deathly silence on my part)

(in my head) When did we stop being bulletproof?

More silence.

Me at a loss for words? (some of my friends just fainted)

I typically know, or can figure out, the right thing to say. That has always kinda been my gift. I am rarely a conversation generator but more of a listen & respond words kind of guy. And most of the people who know me would be surprised if I didn’t have something to say (even if it was a stupid thing).

So, in this case, I ignored it assuming it was the last thing he would want to talk about and after a flippant “holy shit” moved on to something lighter. And then ignored it. Or maybe better said, I hid.


(in my head) when did we stop being bulletproof?

Several days later I followed up with something to insure he knew that I knew this was a big deal. But I fear once again words sometimes just aren’t up to the task at hand.

And I know why I’m having trouble thinking clearly about this.

“so I should be good with this …”

More than the cancer word that is the phrase that keeps poking me. Over and over again. One of my biggest fears is losing one in my tight circle of friends. We happy few  … are  … well … few.

It’s something that scares me shitless and because of that I am tempted to completely shut down when it comes to thinking about it. I am a loner type. Always have been. Comfortable being alone without being lonely. So the small group of friends who pierce that loner space are a small club of cherished characters. I don’t want to lose one of the club. Shit. I can’t.  How does something small become smaller without disappearing? I guess that is the fear. For him. For me. For we happy few.

As good friends often do he offers me little to no details and quickly changes the subject leaving me in the dark.  A dark that is filled with worry for my friend. I wonder what’s in his head and what I can do. I would drop anything I was doing to do whatever I would need to do. I would certainly even pray that maybe it wasn’t real but that damn email is still sitting in my inbox.

This is fucking real. Really real. It doesn’t get realer than this. Look. It’s not really about the details.  Even if I had more details on this I would still worry. Because this is real. (“so I should be good with this …”)

Just the thought that he has cancer and … well … it makes you think of the “D” word (I won’t even type it). I would like to go into immediate denial. Shit. I would like it to be me instead. I am sure he would also (the former and not the latter). But he won’t. He is too good to deny it. Too strong. He has always prided himself on the fact that he’s in the same shape he was in his 20’s if not even better shape. He’s in great health, or at least he/we thought. Like me, he’s a low level hyper “keep moving forward” kind of guy. So I doubt he is worrying about this, or at least doesn’t show it, and is already thinking about what comes next. Moving forward.

But. (in my head) When did we stop being bulletproof?

Shit. Mortality is a dark question that looms in your own head. Life is typically content to share subtle reminders as you get older – panting through what used to be an easier run, the fire engine in front of the senior complex, your heart racing in bed last night – all of which increase the rattling in your head at odd moments. And then every once in awhile Life feels compelled to drop a less subtle hint on your doorstep. “Hey, I have prostate cancer.”
Inevitably mortality looms as “the” question. When?

It’s the question that kind of becomes a dull throb if it lingers a little too long. I know I think of it more often. My grandfather passed away at 54. My father at 58.  Shit. Even without that I have seen mortality face to face in the past. At far too young an age. And probably not as young as others.


One thing I am sure of.

The older you get you are always too young to face it.

But. When did we stop being bulletproof?

Ignorance is a Choice: I have written these words many times on my site. Nothing captures the essence of this thought better than my friend’s situation. He chose to not be ignorant. He chose to learn more. He chose life. He chose his family. He chose to give hope to his friends and family. He chose to do something rather than ignorance. All men could learn from this. I do not believe I have the symptoms. But I also do not have health insurance. I can tell you that when I do I will get checked. Maybe for the simple fact I never want to have my friends receive the other email instead of the one I received.

Postscript: please don’t email me and ask about my friend. It will be his choice if he elects to share it with people. It is not my choice and please don’t put me in the awkward position to have to say I can’t tell you. Thanks.

Written by Bruce