I have previously posted Mr. Jennings on a link but did not see this video untill this morning. I am watching it and it’s going along and I am really enjoying it and really like this person. The part about getting a buzz-cut and then it makes him feel like, ” I’m putting on a cape or something,” I loved, I mean really loved. I liked the background of his study, his wife, (I have patients where the wife is the “note-taker”), his walks with his kids in what I presume is some acreage they have near their home. That the two teenage boys love him to death and say he loves music but can’t sing. In the scene where is singing and walking in the woods, (did you pick up on the song), I did, the boys were right, it was clear to me that he could not carry a tune. Well, the song he was singing was ” The day they tore old Dixie down” and the band would be The Band and this is the band that opened for years for Bob Dylan. The one of three 8-tracks I had the day I drove to Dahlonega, Ga to start college was one by The Band, that I stole from my brother Bob who was a big fan of theirs, and as fate would have it one was by Dan Fogelberg.(He had prostate cancer.) Well that’s the song in the video.
For me everything was going along in the video, I was intrigued by the whole thing, even beginning to think I could like someone that worked at the New York Times, when out of nowhere he can’t talk. He paused and his eyes moistened. In that instance I begin to cry. All of my mornings on the way to work, when I would be alone for first time of that day, in my car I’d cry. It would be about anything, but mostly about that I had let my family down, and that it was possible that I would not be around for something significant in the future as it might pertain to one of our children. Dana’s piece brought back to me, all of the emotions that I faced three years ago came to life and made them as real as if it were today, I mean right now. It was cathartic. My wife sitting across from me in the den asks, “Are you crying?” I am surprised she didn’t say, “Again?”
What a beautiful piece and what a beautiful man and family and I truly wish him the best.
From “The Decision”
I was a bit different in how I handled the news that I had prostate cancer compared to most patients and probably differently from you. I did not tell many people; I had emotional difficulty telling my children and did not want it announced at church, like you hear so often during prayer concerns. I personally felt that I was dealing with the diagnosis of cancer fairly well, but that retelling it to others would be difficult for me. I have been that way all my life; my aunt Betsy once said to me, “It’s a Davis family trait, John; your grandfather would cry at the drop of a hat.” I had this fear of becoming emotional in telling my children the news, so I delayed doing anything for several weeks and finally decided I’d send an email. I used as the subject line, “dad’s got a new gig.” In my email I rambled on and only implied that I had cancer (“the biopsy showed something”), but reassured them that I would be O.K. It was a very difficult time for me; I was more concerned about how they would feel about their dad having cancer than the threat that I would not do well. As I have previously mentioned, I kept having the sensation and feeling that somehow I had let all of my family down. When they called to ask what in the world I was talking about in my cryptic email, my wife did all the explaining. For about a month I did not answer the phone; the thought of telling one of my children that I had cancer was something I just could not do. It took weeks before I could talk of it without my eyes welling up. It was embarrassing. My wife was absolutely beautiful and strong through this, explaining “my situation” to all family members that would call inquiring about me as if I were not home, although I’d be there next to her in our den. I did tell a female friend, with whom I teach youth Sunday school (I have taught youth Sunday school at my church for about 20 years) about a month or so after my diagnosis. She had had breast cancer, and I felt almost guilty that I had not told her. Once she knew, she would ask each Sunday when was I going to do something about the cancer. After about two months of this questioning each Sunday, she exasperatedly said to me in the parking lot outside the church, “John, go get your prostate cancer treated; you’ll have sex again!” I thought it was an odd remark at the time, but I suppose she thought my delay in making a decision was a “male thing.” In retrospect there may have been some truth and intuition in her observation, a “woman thing.” This remark then began a new era of issues for me surrounding the misconceptions of others in their understanding of what happens to you when you’ve been treated for prostate cancer. It is a reverse misconception, so to speak, not about the male’s understanding of prostate cancer, but others’ misconceptions about someone who has been treated. I began to wonder, are she and others thinking that I will be impotent and incontinent; is this how others will view me in the future? As hard as the decision is, this added element, particularly in a relatively young man, adds to the stress of dealing with the purely medical issues of prostate cancer. This disease and associated treatment options are unusual in that concerns regarding potency and incontinence issues are often moved to the forefront and cure is placed on the back burner. In many ways the treatment of prostate cancer is a “male mastectomy.” In a female there is the emotional trauma of having breast cancer and treatments that can disfigure the body; in the male there is no disfiguration that you can see, but treatment of the prostate affects the quality of how you void and achieve erections. There is also the constant awareness that the cancer may not have been cured and “come back.” This does somewhat eat at your maleness, and knowledge of these risks complicates the decision.
2 Replies to “another man’s story…prostate cancer-dana jennings-new york times…all i can say is man oh man!”
Very moving! I kind of wish my husband could cry. I think it would help him. He is still stuck at angry. But I keep doing my best to get him past it.
A moving film and an amazingly honest and insightful man. Thank you, Dana.