ANCHOR POINTE – THE GENESIS

ANCHOR POINTE Audio Burst with Skip Orem

ANCHOR POINTE - THE GENESIS

by Skip Orem | Anchor Pointe

Transcript Audio Burst ANCHOR POINTE – THE GENESIS with Skip Orem

(00:00) Skip Orem

I started this podcast in the first place and how faith and fitness is just so important to us older folks, as we all navigate through life here in our senior years. I started this podcast back in May of 2020. I started it because there had been a major change come about in my life. Cancer had attacked me and tried to take me out. That experience was the beginning of Anchor Pointe.

I called the podcast, when I started it, Web Radio Today and then late last year I changed the name to Anchor Pointe. I think it so much better describes what we do here on the podcast. We are putting an anchor point in place as we focus more on our faith and fitness. Yeah, that year, 2020 was a strange year for most of us with Covid and everything that was going on. However, I kind of view it as an awesome year for me because what came to destroy me brought me back to God.

Spend some time with me now, the genesis of Anchor Pointe, the story of my experience with cancer. It talks about how Anchor Pointe was started, but most importantly, it’s my testimony, and then I’ll be back at the end of the episode to talk with you about next week’s episode.

I am going to start my cancer story on December 24th, 2019. It begins on Christmas Eve in Columbus, Ohio. I was in Columbus to celebrate Christmas with my daughter and her family and my wife’s family. What a wonderful evening. Everybody together, few of these people I only see them once a year, but I love them all and we’re all thinking, “What a great year 2020 is going to be.” All of us looking forward to exciting things in the new year, especially because my daughter, Diana, is going to have another baby in May, a new grandchild, wonderful.

You know, everybody, thinking about that night, looking back on it now, it’s funny and I was thinking that you really know nothing about the future. No way that you can predict what’s ahead. You really only can say hey, today’s pretty good. Tomorrow’s looking okay, but beyond that, we know nothing about our future.

Little did I know on December 24th, 2019 that there was a pretty good chance that I wouldn’t be around on Christmas Eve 2020. During the last few months of 2019, I was having some, what I’m going to call, old man problems, needing to get up too many times at night to use the restroom. So I was pretty happy there on that Christmas Eve I was looking forward to January 16th, 2020. I was scheduled to have an appointment with a urologist and to get this problem, which had been annoying me for a few months, fixed

Full disclosure, and I think it might be helpful to other guys listening out there, I hadn’t had a digital prostate exam or PSA test for several years, and I don’t know why my primary care doctor didn’t do those tests, but I knew that on this January 16th appointment I was going to have to have that digital exam. But hey, if it got me fixed, I’m all in. It’s funny because in the past I was actually/foolishly happy at the end of every physical exam, I was getting them every six months, that I didn’t have to go through the digital exam process. I thought it was yucky. Well, everybody, I can summarize my January 16th, 2020 visit with my urologist, I can summarize that in one sentence. It did not go well, exclamation point. The urologist was very concerned about the size and about the feel of my prostate, and uh-oh, I needed to be scheduled for a prostate biopsy immediately, like the very next week.

That biopsy the next week was, well, it was a pretty simple procedure, not painful at all, and I was actually kind of proud when I was told that I had a really big prostate. Then I got the news by phone two days later, stage three prostate cancer, Gleason score of eight. That Gleason score means that there was already a chance that it was spreading, or this is worse, or it could have already spread to other organs. I was immediately referred to a surgeon and a radiologist and scheduled for scans to see what the next steps would be. Oh, and just a side note, large prostate bad, not good.

Options on the table at that time, based on whatever the scan results were, surgery, radiation, difficult chemo, maybe a painful death. The scans would give us more information. I’ve been a Christian my entire life, raised in a somewhat fundamentalist church, baptized on a beautiful summer evening at age 12 in a lake near Lakeville, Ohio. I accepted Jesus then as my personal savior. Even during my time in the Air Force, I decided that I wanted to go back to school and study to be a Lutheran pastor. Well, for a number of reasons that didn’t happen. Perhaps it’s a story for another time.

At the time of this cancer diagnosis, of course I believed in Jesus, and I guess I can describe the way I practice my Christian faith, I guess you could describe it as casual, less casual, and sometimes more casual at others. At the time of this diagnosis, I was a member of a church, occasionally attended services, and I prayed once in a while when I needed something. So there you have it, my spiritual diagnosis going into 2020 as well as my cancer diagnosis after getting the results of the prostate biopsy.

This sounds cliché, I hope it isn’t, but in terms of my spiritual diagnosis, all that changed after that cancer diagnosis. The Bible says, “God will use the very thing that’s meant to destroy you to deliver you.” That, everybody, is so true. Of course, I started praying several times a day, don’t let this be cancer. Please help me keep this cancer from spreading. Let the scans be clear. Make it possible for me to have the surgery, assist me to have a good recovery. As the days and nights went on, my prayers became deeper, more analytical. They became, well, a profound examination of how I was living my life. I talked with God about things I needed to change no matter the end result of this cancer. God was going to be more deeply involved with my life. My talks with God, well, they helped me to realize that I needed time to shine my light and make a positive difference in the lives of my family, my friends, people that I don’t even know.

Is this newfound deep faith just a cliché because I happen to need God right now? Are the things I’m saying just platitudes to get me through this fight for my life? No everybody, this isn’t a cliché. These are not platitudes. I’m all in. If I fail, if I backslide, if I’m really full of crap, if I’m just using God right now, telling you everybody, it’s all going to be out there for everyone to see, especially with the Web Radio Today podcast.

I thank this cancer though for challenging me to learn, change and grow, and I tell this cancer these things. Thanks for teaching me to stop and listen. Thank you for reminding me what is truly important. You can go now, my more intense relationship with God, my wife, my family, my newfound positive attitude, and my high level, at least for my age, of physical fitness have been and will continue to be very important in fighting this cancer battle. For sure, yes, this cancer can go now.

I wanted the surgery so bad. I want this cancer out. No radiation, I want the surgery. I want this cancer gone. In order to be able to have the surgery, my scans needed to be clear. On February 13th, the scans were done at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Prayers have been answered. The scans indicated that the cancer had not spread and it appears to be contained within my prostate. Now to convince the surgeon to allow this 73-year-old man to undergo robotic prostate cancer surgery.

Terry and I met with a surgeon at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Well, in addition to being a world class surgeon, she’s a professor at the Vanderbilt Medical School and she’s the head of the residency program at Vanderbilt Hospital. Needless to say, I was very confident in her. To my surprise, and maybe disappointment, she spent, well, the first part of our meeting explaining that radiation was just effective as surgery and then went through a long list of possible negative things that could happen with the surgery, especially because of my age. Stroke, death, multitude of really bad other things.

I didn’t want to know this, but I found out that 73 is kind of old for this type of surgery. However, because of my overall physical fitness, my good body mass index, I felt that I might have some advantages that maybe other 73-year-olds didn’t have. But as she pointed out, even with my ideal weight and fitness, I still had 73-year-old parts. It was clear if I was going to get this surgery, I needed to make my case. I wanted, everybody, I wanted this surgery so bad.

So I told her about my life and my plans, and then I finally said to her, “So hey, let’s pretend that I’m your 73-year-old father. As your father, what would you suggest my treatment should be?” Her answer with a smile, “Well, dad, I think we should do the surgery. As you say, you are in really good condition for a 73-year-old.” She said that in briefly observing my personality, my zest for life, my positive attitude, that she really felt that the radiation coupled with the hormone treatment, which has to be part of that radiation treatment, would change me in a way that might cause a profound negative effect on my positive attitude, my zest for life, my desire to stay physically active. And then these words, let’s schedule the surgery.

So I underwent a robotic prostatectomy. Robotic prostate surgery was performed on me on March 5th. I was wheeled into the operating room and I got a quick glimpse of that huge spider robot. Believe me, it is so much bigger and scarier than it looks in any picture. Then a short blink of my eyes, and I woke up in the recovery room six hours later. Terry’s beautiful face, smiling down at me, with my cancer ridden prostate gone.

Now, I have to tell you, everybody, I cannot imagine how this recovery would have gone without Terry’s help, almost daily, 24 hours a day. There were things that I had to do for myself or someone do for me, which I had no idea how to do. Terry learned them all and performed them all. What a trooper, what unbelievable sacrifices she made.

So with her help, the recovery process went by quickly and really without any problems. I started walking two and then three miles a day, beginning within a few days after the surgery. This is important, everybody, two other members of my family, both nurses, were so much help. Terry’s sister, Lori, was on the phone almost nightly with instructions and help for Terry and I, and then early in the process and then through the recovery process, talking with my sister Marsha was an unbelievable comfort for me.

Marsha’s recommendation of the book Getting Well Again was a talisman that got me out of my initial depression, and then on the road to my new relationship with God, and trust me everybody, a much needed and effective positive attitude. And by the way, I’ll be talking about that book on episode three, the May 3rd episode of the Web Radio Today podcast.

So to bring this long rant about my cancer story to a close, I want to let you know that tomorrow, again, I’m recording this on April 17th. Tomorrow, I’m adding running back into my workout six weeks after the surgery. My follow-up appointment is next week, and at that time we’ll find out what next steps will be.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to provide you with an update on Web Radio Today, episode three. Whatever happens, as I’ve been saying since January 16th, it’s in God’s hands. Everybody, not all men will die of prostate cancer, but all men will die with prostate cancer. Well, that statement may not be totally true, but it’s close to true. If you look at the ages and the numbers, and every man I know, every guy out there that I can reach with this Web Radio Today podcast needs to know there’s a killer out there, and it could be living in your body right now. Please have that digital exam each year. It’s yucky, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a lifesaver

Also, please have your doctor do that blood draw and test your PSA every year. If you know that you haven’t had the digital exam or a PSA test in over a year, make a special appointment. Here’s the thing, the earlier you start getting PSA tests, the more effective they can be because your numbers, they can be tracked over time. Prostate cancer, it’s now hitting men at a younger age. It also seems to hit Black men at a higher rate, and if you’re having any kind of urinary issues, get to your doctor right now.

I urge every guy and every gal, get and stay in shape. Being in good physical shape helped me to ensure that I could get, tolerate, and recover from this surgery at my advanced age of 73. The goal and why I’m starting the Web Radio Today podcast is all about getting you healthy and in shape, guys and gals. It’s about fighting cancer. It’s about fighting all life-threatening diseases. And even more important than that, we’re going to spend time on the podcast, spend time on our faith and our positive attitude. I’ve become somewhat of an expert in dealing with life-threatening diseases, at least from the perspective of the patient or the person who’s trying to avoid serious life-threatening disease. I’m going to continue to research that information and share it on Web Radio Today. So it goes without saying. I want you to be part of this podcast, and I’ll be here every Friday to spend 20 or 30 minutes with you.