“Men are not worried by things, but by their ideas about things.” – Epictetus

On December 10, 2021, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We caught it early, but it’s bad enough that it would have killed me in 2022 had we not. I’m 10 years younger than the average male diagnosed with prostate cancer. It doesn’t run in my family. This was a complete surprise. 





At no point during the phone call when the doctor broke the news did I let fear take the wheel. It wanted to, it just was drowned out by something else

After doing some research and speaking to both a radiation oncologist and a surgeon, we elected to go with surgery because of my age. You only get one shot with radiation, as it turns out. 

It took 8 weeks to get a hospital room because of Covid. This is considered major surgery with a three-day minimum stay. I have to bring a suitcase. 

It’s been nearly 3 months since my diagnosis and, as you can imagine, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to think about all this. But at no point have I feared any of it. 

Yes, it’s going to be a tough thing to overcome. Yes, it’s going to hurt. Yes, there’s a chance I wear diapers forever and never get an erection again. Very bad things to think about. But all of those things are out of my control and so I can’t worry about them. I’ve done everything I can. The rest is out of my hands. 

I fear nothing. 

Except, this one thing: Leaving the hospital an old man whose fire has been doused. 

People who know me know that I’m a pretty intense guy. I run hot. Always have. That fire is what fuels my imagination. It’s what drives me to get up every day and face the world. I live my life by this fire. And it’s this raging fire makes me forget I’m a 57-year-old man who sometimes gets freaked out when he sees his reflection. And sees how old his body really is. In my mind I’m still 35—only because the fire continues to rage. 

Leaving that hospital a changed man is a thought that terrifies me. Not the pain. Not the threat of impotence or incontinence. Not even death. Becoming a creative vegetable. That’s what scares me. 

So if you were wondering whether I’m in denial because of my positive outlook so far about all this, now you know that I do have a fear. And it’s real. And scary. To me. 

I still have stories I want to tell.


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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.