'Mr. 80 Percent,' An Intimate Portrayal Of Surviving Prostate Cancer


We're talking about prostate cancer why we don't talk about it because of issues like incontinence, impotence, men's private parts, and so forth I'm joined by Boston Globe Mark Shanahan who is out with a new podcast Mr Eighty percent, which tells the very personal story about his own prostate cancer and a warning again to listeners, we are talking a very frankly about this disease about sexual function and so on and so forth, and so this might not be suitable for younger listeners. We just want to put that warning out there. mark I want to talk a little bit about how this diagnosis it didn't just affect you affected your loved ones too. So your audio, your daughter Julia was in junior high when you were first diagnosed. So I want to hear a little bit of the two of you talking in episode one of Mr Eighty percent. I think I just took it to like. Like he actually died I would basically lose my best friend. This is my daughter Julia she's in college. Now they say like we're not your best friend like where your parents by. Having. Cancer means you get a preview of what your kid might say at your funeral. You're the funniest person I've ever met I. Think one of the most supportive and hardworking people I've ever met and. I also think you one of the most intense people I've ever met and you have a very impressive career, and so I always like looked up to that and by impressive you mean I have talked to Bj. Novak. You took me to Taylor concert. She gave me her bracelet, right? So. So that's a cut from Mr Eighty percent I'm here with Mr, with Shanahan and mark that's really touching moment. But say a little more about that because you make this, you spend a lot of time in this podcast talking about. The effect that this has on your entire family, and by the way the way your wife stepped up in heroic ways and supported you and this is a huge theme about in this story. It's true Anthony that You know you just can't anticipate something like this and and again it's the nature of this disease that you know. This was something that as my surgeon says, at some point in the podcast, you know when you're when you're treating. Prostate cancer patient, you're really treating the couple. And So Michelle had a heavy lift Michelle, your wife correct. I should say right Michelle. My Wife. And she was Extraordinary and But so it's a learning process. For she and then in terms of our children. You well, I Beckett we would like to get back into the podcast but your son as fifty s fifteen year old boy now and You know we wanted him to say, well, we're going to have to talk about our penises and that was. He he just wasn't willing to go there. So again, it's it is. You know we say in the podcast that you get the cancer but everybody's life changes and you know I I don't think that unless you go through something like this, you can really appreciate what that means but I. Certainly do i WanNa talk a little bit about Get get you to talk a little bit about the course of treatment that you opted to follow. So so walk us through first of all the options that you had to consider. When you were first diagnosed well. So we want to also say that because prostate cancer. So slow growing and because many men who are diagnosed are much older I think that people should think very very carefully before embarking on any treatment that there is something called active surveillance, which means we watch it we pay attention to it. And but but. For Myself I was young I had two kids. I had forty years may be to live and. I had a gleason score, which is a score after they give you your biopsy and take a look at what's happening they grade basically of the severity of the intensity of your cancer in mind was seven. Out of ten that's considered to be intermediate I guess you know the options for me were to watch it to have surgery. Or to a radiate my prostate and. In, the end there have been enormous advances in the treatment of prostate cancer over just thirty years. If I had gotten prostate cancer fifty years ago. I. would be rough rough rough. And not just for me every man who had a prostatectomy which is surgical procedure to remove your prostate. before nine, hundred, eighty, two, left the hospital impotent every single Guy which is just incredible to me because nineteen eighty two is not that long ago. Right, it is incredible. So you went for the surgery but I did but that wasn't the end of your ordeal surgery. It turns out we learned didn't get all the cancer. So you had to go back and sign up for pretty radical course of hormone therapy, and this is really the most excruciating part of your journey to read into here about you describe it essentially as a kind of. Chemical. Castration. Well. Indeed and I don't just describe it that way. That's in fact what it is It removes the testosterone from your body and the reason that we do that is because it's the thing that feeds the cancer prostate cancer. Grows Thanks to to Saas thrown. So if you removed from your body to cells cancer cells week in some cases they die and then when they're at their weakest blast them with radiation. The problem is that when you take a testosterone out of a man's body it is a as you say excruciating I became a different person. ahead you know the the euphemism is mood swings. I didn't have mood swings had a I had tantrums and I will say that I was on the phone this morning, the guy who listened to the first three episodes of the podcast and. He. said, he'd never talked to anybody about his course blueprint and he was arrested he actually got arrested. Because a parking garage. because. He could he he got completely out of control. So it's scary. And and you know now as I sit here. There's you know at this surgery if if the prostate cancer should return, there is no surgery there is no radiation. Those are no longer alternatives. and. The prospect of more loop ron or any kind of hormone therapy is really terrifying

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