Zine from the CancerGram 7 of 18, showing images related to the biopsy and diagnosis from late June, 2016.
It turned out they were able to remove the tumor during the biopsy. They hadn’t called it a tumor until after it was removed. It felt a little shocking to consider it that way, but still no mention at all of cancer.
I had the catheter again as there was some healing process to undergo. I was getting used to the catheter life, but I was still impressed by the big bag of bloody pee. Then the blood clots started to form. I saw them in the catheter bag, but after that was removed, I was passing them out my penis. They weren’t painful, just shocking. It would feel like I needed to pee but I would only leak. As I relaxed to encourage the flow, one of these big clots would slide out painlessly and expand in the toilet. It blew my mind.
Some weeks later I had an appointment to get the biopsy results. I had just signed a lease on the new place in Memphis and was preparing to start a new semester, new job, new life. It was an exciting time. Maybe that’s why I went into the appointment so blind, so unconcerned.
I remember after being led to the examination room that I was left alone for several minutes. It was only then that I considered the possibility of bad news for the first time. I thought quietly to myself about whether I had cancer. It seemed to improbable. I had a secret thought that maybe it would be really bad news and I would die soon. Then I felt ashamed for even entertaining the morbid fantasy.
When the doctor came in with my pathology report and told me I had cancer, I was mostly in shock. He explained that prostate cancer was one of the most survivable and treatable cancers and that I would be fine. I told him I was leaving town in two weeks for a new job. He encouraged me to stay longer to have a few more tests done. He seemed think it was important to know if it had spread.
I didn’t feel any strong emotion. It all felt vaguely unreal. When I walked out of the examination room to make the next appointment, I noticed that none of the nurses would look me in the eye. It was noticeable that everyone kept their gazes down. That’s when I started to feel it.