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The Embarcadero in San Francisco

July 10th, 2001

An Added Edge
I had an appointment with an urologist today after learning that my PSA count had jumped markedly from its level last year. Oh, dear. PSA levels signal possible prostate cancer, so I went in, had another prostate exam (no little bumps or nodules), had a urine test (clean) and talked with the doctor. He said, generally, people who have a similar bump in their PSA numbers have a 2 out of 5 chance of cancer. So, redo the PSA next week and have a biopsy right quick if the original reading is accurate.

There's some other stuff they look for in this upcoming test they don't look for in the one I had for my annual physical, so it's possible I won't be having a biopsy soon, but I'm thinking be ready. (This is a good test of my one drink only in the evening resolution, don't you think? Am I tempted to have another?)

My cousin was diagnosed with prostate cancer last summer and had an operation that removed the prostate before it spread, which makes me wonder if there's a gene we share that no one in the family wants to talk about In an earlier age such things would only have been discussed in whispers. You hope it goes well, but there are no guarantees. I didn't ask what percentage of these tests proves inaccurate. Two out of five? I doubt it. Welcome to the real world, moi, this Tuesday, here, in Oakland.

Curious, if this turns out to be it. As you grow older you wonder where it will come from.Oakland City Center Nothing too obsessive, you understand. No need to make yourself uncomfortable, but you wonder. You know how long your ancestors lived, how old they were when they died and generally what killed them. The things that killed my father may well one day kill me, but science has in the interim cured some of them, better blood pressure control, not smoking, fixing the sleep apnea, a condition they didn't even think about in my father's day, so I've been kinda hoping I could put death off for a while longer. Like twenty years. Prostate cancer was not high on my list of suspects. Should have been, after hearing about my cousin. Give him a call if my test proves positive, see what this is about. He was looking a little peaked at the family party (which I will be attending at the end of this month, if I'm not in the hospital) as he was then just a week out of the hospital.

I'm not sure I should be writing about this, at least until I know more, but I'm not betraying any confidences. Can't really talk too much about personal relationships here, what few I've got. Prostate. I'm not sure I even know how to spell it.

So the coming weeks will have an added edge.

The banner photograph was taken just off the Embarcadero in San Francisco, recently, and the second photograph was taken at an Oakland City Center Thursday evening concert. The quote is attributed to an English professor at Ohio University.