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Emails to my Therapist

Some Bad News and Some Good News: Medical Test Results

Well, Nicholas, my beloved husband Bob has come down with a particularly fierce brand of prostate cancer. And the good news is that it hasn’t spread to the rest of him. These last few weeks have been lots of doc appointments and lots of waiting. Waiting for the next medical test. Waiting for medical test results.

Dealing With It

We’ve stayed pretty level and non-freaked-out during this experience, Bob more so than me.

I go with him to all the appointments and when we come home, he’s fine and I’m exhausted. After one bout of doctoring, I took a three-hour nap while he went straight to working out.

At first we thought this prostate problem was not going to a problem at all. (And at first I referred to it as a problem, didn’t want to say cancer.) Almost three quarters of cases are so slow-growing that they can be ignored. His is in the other 30 percent, quite vigorous.

But finding out that it hasn’t spread to his bones led to a feeling of relief, lightness, glee, that for me almost erased the thought of the original problem.

The Days Ahead

He will now have 18 months of treatment, but no surgery. No fun, but we’re assured he’ll come through it all very well. It’s not going to kill him.

His staying alive has been my only focus lately, everything else instantly became logistics or simply unimportant.

Wait a Second

No, as I think about it, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been finding work and weeding sustaining; they’re activities that are still valuable.

Yet, until we got the no-spread news, I had not been engaged at all by my other ruling passion: reading for pleasure. For weeks, neither novels–nor Netflix–managed to hold my attention at all. This has never happened before. Novels have in the past been reliably potent medicine. Now that we have the better news, I’m reading a bit of Dickens with full concentration and watched The Trial of the Chicago 7 all the way through.

Also, I haven’t been so single-minded that I didn’t get madly addled by our washing machine dying and being replaced by one that didn’t at first work. On the other hand, maybe it was more upsetting because of my fears for Bob. Bob’s chief addlement is about making sure he can see all his psychotherapy patients with the necessary schedule changes.

The Long Haul

Most important, most sustaining, Bob has a plan for living on. He has always aimed for us having a 50th wedding anniversary, which would require him lasting until he’s 91. (He’s 79 at the moment.)

Peggy Payne Bob Dick

He’s going to make it to our 50th, I’m happy to say.  I saw a story in yesterday’s New York Times about the possibilities that may allow us to live to 200. I’m in favor.

Wishing you health and long life,



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  • April 29, 2021 at 1:20 am Reply

    I’d rather the washing machine died than me. And I indulge myself, aiming for a 50th anniversary. I’ve had a good life, good friends and good work – done the best I could as a dad, now a grand dad. I know it’ll all be over some day, and I intend to live with you, fully and richly in the present, till I’m past.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 2:28 am Reply

      May this present continue until you’re well past 91, Bob.

  • Anonymous
    April 29, 2021 at 1:30 pm Reply

    Holding both of you dear people in love and healing energy.❤️

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 1:36 pm Reply

      We both thank you, Anon!

  • April 29, 2021 at 2:28 pm Reply

    Oh, you are both such an inspiration to me! Sending all good energy for many more years of the rich and full lives you lead. And a couple of big hugs on top.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 7:42 pm Reply

      Thank you, Billie. You are pretty inspirational yourself!

  • April 29, 2021 at 2:39 pm Reply

    I love you guys! And your love will see you through this. Carry on your journey to the big 5-0.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:02 pm Reply

      Thank you, Mamie! and it’s nice to think of aiming for the big 5-O. Brings back memories of an earlier time.

  • Andy
    April 29, 2021 at 2:44 pm Reply

    I am happy for this result for both of you. I am slowly recovering from shoulder surgery 16 months later. My retina detachment has been repaired but now I need cataract surgery this fall. These bodies of ours are amazing, but I am not sure about quality of life after, let’s say, 130, lol!

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:04 pm Reply

      Thanks, Andy. And you’ve sure had a long haul with your shoulder–wow! I hope that and all eye problems go away soon.

  • Amey Miller
    April 29, 2021 at 4:15 pm Reply

    Sending kabundle love as well. I’m impressed at some fabulous attitude on y’all’s parts —– good inspiration here in wisdom years. . . .

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:07 pm Reply

      Thanks much for the kabundle, Amey! And note that I didn’t post when he first got this diagnosis. There has been some attitude adjustment along the way.

  • Anonymous
    April 29, 2021 at 4:24 pm Reply

    Hi Peggy!
    We met once at your office. I’m Carrie’s high school friend. My husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2002. Since the cancer was “on the margin,” he did have to have surgery. He became part of a clinical trial that would do “follow up” for 15 years. I am happy to report he is doing very well, and it has been 19 years! Best wishes to you and Bob!
    Sue Shoemaker

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:16 pm Reply

      I remember you, Sue. We chatted a couple of times. And glad your husband is doing so well! Thanks for telling me. Best wishes to you both.

  • Nancy Smith Marks
    April 29, 2021 at 4:27 pm Reply

    Both of you are such a blessing to each of us — and to each other. Please do live every day to the fullest — and hang on in love and good health, making your way to that special celebration!! Love and prayers —

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:17 pm Reply

      Thanks so much for this, Nancy! I am grateful.

  • Sandy Babb
    April 29, 2021 at 4:29 pm Reply

    I will be thinking about you two in the coming weeks!

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:20 pm Reply

      I appreciate your thoughts for us, Sandy. And I hope things are good with you.

  • George Wingate
    April 29, 2021 at 4:38 pm Reply

    You two had better celebrate your fiftieth!! That all I have to say.


    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:23 pm Reply

      thank you, g! And I’ll bet you’re getting pretty close to yours, if not already there.

  • Anonymous
    April 29, 2021 at 4:45 pm Reply

    Thinking back to the scary time of my husband’s cancer diagnosis. We all know nothing in life can be taken for granted, but in those moments of sheer terror, you want something to cling to. It is hope, and willing yourself to think of the good outcome possibilities as well as the bad.
    Ten years later, going strong. But I still can put myself back where you are. Our 50th is in 6 weeks: that was our milestone as well.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:25 pm Reply

      Makes me smile, Anon, that you’re about to hit your milestone. And thanks for this encouragement.

  • Anonymous
    April 29, 2021 at 5:33 pm Reply

    Hope it works out . My Dad had it , he had a tattoo where they did treatment . He never could ride a horse again which slowed down his hunting out West. He would wear outrageous boxer shorts( red silk ones , plaid & holiday ones ) to treatment & take doughnuts to the staff. He died at age 91 of other things .
    Good luck & prayers to you both . Never loose your sense of humor .

    • Peggy Payne
      April 29, 2021 at 8:35 pm Reply

      Your dad had great spirit, anon. I love the outrageous boxers, the tattoo, and the doughnuts. Sounds like he kept his sense of humor! Thanks for this story.

  • Gail Waters
    April 29, 2021 at 9:46 pm Reply

    So sorry Bob has to go through treatment but the prognosis sounds good. Love that he is staying in the process of living and looking forward. He is tough and will make it to your 50th. Blessings and peace to you both. Love, Gail Water

    • Peggy Payne
      April 30, 2021 at 2:31 am Reply

      He is definitely tough, Gail–amazingly resilient in fact– and going on with his regular life and planning. And we appreciate all your good wishes. Thank you!

  • Margery Garrabrant
    April 29, 2021 at 11:10 pm Reply

    Being a Urology nurse for 35 years I have seen many, many cases or prostate cancer!! Even though it’s been 20 years since retirement I can say that great advances have been made in the treatment of prostate cancer!! The fact that it has not spread is something to rejoice about!!
    Sending healing thoughts to you and your husband (who I’m sure will see 91+) my sweet little charge!!
    Best love,

    • Peggy Payne
      April 30, 2021 at 2:36 am Reply

      Thanks for the encouraging professional perspective, Margey, and the best love. We appreciate both.

  • Judy Carrino
    April 30, 2021 at 1:53 am Reply

    The good news is that it has not left the margins of the prostate or spread to his bones. That is a wonderful thing. I will be thinking of you and hoping for the best outcome possible. Here’s hoping you both make it tp your 50th – and beyond!! And maybe you should buy some red silk boxers for him!!

    • Peggy Payne
      April 30, 2021 at 2:37 am Reply

      Thanks so much, Judy. And his favorite color is purple–maybe some nice purple satin shorts.

  • Anonymous
    April 30, 2021 at 4:13 am Reply

    Sorry to learn of this curveball in an otherwise stellar existence! I’ve been down a similar path and can say you’ve weathered the worst part / all the evaluations and the waiting for results is super stressful. Now, with a plan, you will fall into a predictable routine and a measure of control over your life is returned. Before you know it 50 years is here! Good luck and be good to yourselves. You deserve it.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 30, 2021 at 2:09 pm Reply

      That’s a very helpful perspective, Anon, that the worst is over. I resolve to see it that way. I’m glad you’re still around after traveling this path.

  • April 30, 2021 at 2:05 pm Reply

    No spread/no surgery – that’s great news! You earned your nap from the stress of it all. Looking forward to the blog celebrating your 50th.
    P.S. I’m 20+ years since the removal surgery, so I understand both of your reactions/responses to the news. Let it continue to be good news.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 30, 2021 at 2:08 pm Reply

      Thank you, Jim. And I’m glad you’re faring so well.

  • April 30, 2021 at 3:44 pm Reply

    I’ll be thinking of you and Bob, and hoping for the best.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 30, 2021 at 3:52 pm Reply

      Thank you, David.

  • Ruth Sheehan
    April 30, 2021 at 6:54 pm Reply

    I love this post, and I love these photos.
    But I especially love this couple.

    • Peggy Payne
      May 1, 2021 at 12:49 am Reply

      This couple loves you, Ruth!!

  • Lee Grohse
    May 2, 2021 at 7:16 pm Reply

    Sorry for this bad luck and glad for the good prognosis. Wishes for easy time with treatment and complete recovery. My husband dealt with prostate cancer of somewhat different nature– the slow developing kind that for many years was on the “wait and watch” protocol. However a sudden jump in PSA triggered another biopsy and it was found that, while not spread outside of prostate it was present in all 12 of the locations sampled and very close to the margins. So surgery was recommended (by all three of the urologists consulted) and he did that. Had the robotic surgery that is less problematic in terms of nerve damage. Nearly three years later his PSA follow-ups stay near 0. We weren’t panicked at any time about this, I’ve had very little conscious anxiety about this, and there’s no indication that the time we have has been affected by this illness. Hope and expect the same will be true for you guys. But a diagnosis like this does focus the mind. For me, like you, my focus was on “this man must stay alive.” But I do often find myself humming the Jason Isbell song, If We Were Vampires. I need reminding that time with a loved person eventually runs out and I’d better be busy enjoying it and doing it right. Again, hope the treatment and recovery are comfortable! Love to both of you!

    • Peggy Payne
      May 3, 2021 at 1:53 pm Reply

      Lee, I’m so glad it all went well for you and your husband. “This man must stay alive” sure sums up my reaction. And I appreciate your encouraging story. We’re doing well here, still planning on Norway in December.

  • July 1, 2021 at 2:33 pm Reply

    […] with what’s probably another sort of displaced emotion–about Husband Bob’s prostate cancer. Today was the fourth day of the five-and-a-half weeks of every-weekday visits to the hospital wing […]

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