Prostate cancer victims form local support group
GSPI News Editor
Stan Rachesky and Bill Kight consider themselves the lucky ones.
For all the Glenwood residents have gone through over the last year as victims of prostate cancer, they’ve lived to tell about it.
And tell, they have.
Kight recently devoted two of his columns in the Post Independent to his cancer battle.
Rachesky, meanwhile, is working with Kight to create a local support group for prostate cancer victims.
“You know, men are men and we tend not to share real private things like prostate cancer and the effects of it,” said Kight. “It can be real depressing, and you can feel like you’re alone. Having been through that, I would like to help other folks on their journey.”
Currently, Kight said, local urologist Dr. Jeffrey Fegan offers new prostate cancer patients a list of others who have also had the disease and are willing to talk about it. But Kight said the list isn’t complete. A support group could keep the list up to date, he said.
When Rachesky was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was referred to support groups in Denver. That got him wondering why there wasn’t one here.
Patty Harris, chaplain at Valley View Hospital, was thrilled to hear of the effort to create the support group.
“We have so much for women but not much for men,” in terms of support in the battle against cancer, she said.
Harris said she doesn’t have many male cancer survivors to whom she can refer new patients.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Fegan said. “I think they can definitely answer each other’s questions and give each other emotional support through the whole ordeal.”
Kight said he relied heavily on a friend who had been treated for prostate cancer and could answer questions and tell him what to expect.
“I really needed that and appreciated that.”
Kight, 56, considers himself fortunate to get an early signal of illness, blood in his semen. Many prostate cancer victims never have symptoms of a problem.
Kight underwent testing. A U.S. Forest Service employee, he got back the bad news while he was fighting a fire in 2001. Rachesky, 63, learned of his prostate problems just weeks after he and his wife, Carole, lost their house in last summer’s Coal Seam Fire.
He still feels lucky. Through chance, he has participated for years in a free prostate cancer screening program through the University of Colorado. Though he never had symptoms, the screening revealed his cancer.
Both Kight and Rachesky opted for surgery, seeing it as the best way to get rid of the disease and move on with their lives.
“I wanted it out of me. I didn’t want to have to think about it,” said Rachesky.
He said he went into the procedure knowing he could become impotent or incontinent.
“You say to yourself, do I want to die or do I want to live?” he asked.
As with other cancers, prostate cancer is something dealt with as a family, due to the impacts on a spouse and children.
The Racheskys see potential value in involving wives in a prostate cancer support group or a group of their own.
Carole said she walked a fine line in talking with her husband about a disease that understandably left him withdrawn, far from his happy, joking old self.
“I just think that the wives should be patient and not push, and understand, but not let them get into a depressed state,” she said.
Comparing prostate cancer victims to breast cancer victims, she said, “The women talk, the guys don’t. I don’t think they talk about their health issues in that area. It represents manhood, their machoism.”
The possibility of impotence associated with prostate cancer surgery makes it harder yet to talk about, Harris said.
More than 30,000 men die each year from prostate cancer, yet Kight said the level of support and public awareness available is probably 20 years behind breast cancer.
“So we have a ways to go, and I think we can learn a lot from where woman have been,” she said.
Kight respects Rachesky for enduring all that he did last year, yet wanting to help others now.
Kight also believes it will be worth going through what he has if his own resulting efforts to boost public awareness about prostate cancer save even one life.
Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516
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