FOR MY LADY
Pinchot was diagnosed with prostate cancer and became an early mentor for men
who followed him. He gave this speech or variants of it at many meetings
often ask me why I can speak about various prostate cancer treatments, statistics,
staging, drug side effects etc. without referring to notes but when I speak about
the two subjects I wish to address this afternoon I use detailed notes. I do so
because the subjects arouse, within me, such strong emotions that at times it
is difficult for me to express my thoughts clearly. It is my hope that if you
take home only one message from this symposium that it is one that I wish to convey
I am asking you to please put down any thing you are reading and focus not on
Harry, for I am only the messenger, but focus on the message I wish to convey
to each and every one of you as individuals. If you open your minds and hearts
it can change not only your life but the lives of those you hold most dear as
well as the lives of many you have yet to meet.
the fall of 1997 I attended the annual meeting of US TOO regional directors. At
that meeting one of the speakers was April Becker. April's words have had a profound
and lasting effect on my thinking. When speaking to various support groups I have
attempted to convey April's very poignant insight, as I hope to do again this
afternoon. It is a brief message but a message which bears repeating often and
deserves serious contemplation by all prostate cancer survivors, regardless of
age or severity of disease. Many of you have heard me say, at different meetings,
that PC is a disease which afflicts not just the man with the prostate but also
that's you and I, have come to expect our wives and partners to be there for us
in our time of need, to care for us, to share our fears, to be concerned when
treatment is not going well and to celebrate when our test results are good. We
can talk for hours about PC with friends and acquaintances and expect our wives
to not only listen ad nauseam but to also agree with us at all times. We often
become fixated with our problems ..and ...the fear of our own mortality, while
at the same time becoming oblivious to the needs of our spouse. We must remember
that she not only has to deal with our mood swings, declining health, unusual
diets, anxiety over PSA test results, doctor visits, insurance and all the other
issues relating to our disease that we deal with, but she must also face her own
fears. These are real and pervasive fears which often are not fully shared with
us. She must come to grips with the very real possibility of losing her spouse,
her lover, her life partner, her best friend and often her primary source of income.
we lay our heads upon our pillow for the last time and go gently into the night
our problems are over. It is she who must pick up the pieces and move on in life's
journey without us. Recognize her fears and the load she must carry. Do not dismiss
her concerns because you deem your concerns to be of greater significance. They
are not! Ask not what she can do for you but rather think of how you can make
her life, with you, a pleasant experience and not a burden. Ask yourself what
you can do to make her life, now and after you are gone, a better life. Express
your appreciation for all the things she does for you. For she changes the bed
sheets, cooks your special meals, reminds you to take medications and fluffs the
pillow of life for you, while she suppresses her fears, her failed dreams and
disappointments, because she loves you. I would like each survivor and his partner
to stand up now.
man, even those as dense as I am understands that roses are a symbol of love and
affection. We have all given roses to our wives and daughters on special occasions
when we wish to express our love and affection for them. Please take your partners
right hand in yours and holding the rose you were given in your left hand, look
directly into her eyes and repeat after me. Please accept this rose as a symbol
of my love for you. and as an expression of my appreciation and recognition.,
of all that you have done for me. For being my partner, for being there at my
darkest moments, for sharing both my victories and my disappointments, for caring
for and caring about me as we travel down the road of life together.
of us has planned and dreamed of traveling with our brides through well earned
care free "Golden Years." We often feel that fate has singled us out and dealt
us a losing hand of PC, from the bottom of the deck. At the Grants Pass symposium
I talked about the benefits of having PC as opposed to getting hit by the proverbial
bus that most who fear cancer often talk of. Most of us will die of something
other than getting hit by that bus and that something just might be PC. PC gives
us the opportunity to make amends with family and friends, to complete life long
goals and to acknowledge to our family, our God, and to ourselves that we are
indeed mortal. It grants us the time to express our love and admiration to our
children and our love affection and appreciation to our wife and partner. It also
affords us all the opportunity to let down our guard and become friends with.
and share experiences with, kind and caring men, men whom we would never have
allowed into our lives had it not been for PC and organizations like support groups
and Internet discussion groups.
of us are going through or have gone through, what our society calls a "mid-life
crisis." We look back and say to ourselves where did the time go and had I known
then what I know now, I woulda, I shoulda and I could have done things differently.
I submit that we must not look back but rather we must look forward and ask ourselves,
What legacy will.. I.. leave? What contribution can I make to society? What will
I be remembered for 20 years from today? Indeed! Will my grand children remember
my deeds, 25 years from now? We, as part of western society, tend to judge a man
by what kind of provider he is for his wife and family and by his financial success.
a reduced value is placed on our lives because we are no longer active members
of the work force. I believe acceptance of this thinking, is one of the reasons
we are so dammed complacent about poor medical care and the lack of research dollars
for prostate cancer and why many men rely on their wife to speak for them. We
must resist judging ourselves by the standards others use to judge us, and judge
ourselves by a new set of standards for our life after diagnosis. I submit that
a man's life should not be defined by his job or occupation but by his deeds.
When talking about a man we should not speak of his occupation or income but rather
speak of his deeds and personal accomplishments.
diagnosis we must set a different standard and ask ourselves what kind of MAN
am I ? For we are much more than providers, we are Husbands, Lovers, Best friends,
Fathers, Sons and Brothers and we must live and act as more than wounded providers.
We must live as men.
I suggest to you that PC has given each of you an opportunity for a unique insight
and the ability to make your mark, your contribution so that the next generation,
your sons and grandsons will not have to endure PC. I implore you to put forth
the effort to be part of the solution, not an arm chair quarterback. To put more
into the well than you withdraw! To seize the once in a life time opportunity
PC has given you to help your fellow man. On behalf of men and their families
who depend on those of you who are active in the operation of a support group
or activist organization. I challenge you to put aside your ego and differences
of opinion. to work for the benefit of your fellow man. Do not worry about who
gets credit for what is accomplished but work to see that more is accomplished,
to see that every man has the benefit of your knowledge and talent.
of us has our own perspective on life since diagnosis and how to use the time
we have been granted. I have chosen to spend my time and effort educating my fellow
PC brother. You may choose a path different from me, but once again I implore
you to put forth the effort to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
To put more into the well than you withdraw! In my opinion, it is unlikely that
there will be advancements in the treatment of PC unless we the patients cause
them to happen. Many of you have unique talents which can be marshaled for the
greater good of all. I am often amazed by the sophistication and intellect of
men I see at various meetings. Many of these men, particularly those in southern
California have contributed to the design of incredible aircraft and electronic
devices. Without the contributions of some in this theater, I dare say, we would
never have been able to land on the moon or explore space.
others here today have contributed to the development of computers and all kinds
of advances in technology. I challenge you to rise up out of your recliners, shut
off your televisions and not just ask what can I do, but demand that you be allowed
to contribute to the demise of this disease. Others, who like myself, do not have
the education or scientific qualifications can also help their brothers by rallying
a call for political action to fund research so that your sons and your grandsons
will not be destine to suffer with PC. We must wage a war against cancer, just
as in WWII, Korea or Vietnam. We have lost far too many Husbands, Fathers, Brothers
the USA (alone) almost thirty thousand men die of Prostate Cancer, each and every
year. That's one death every 17 minutes. We must lead the charge and defeat the
enemy. Do not sit back and mourn the loss of your youth, but rather stand tall
and make use of the time that has been granted to you, so that 10 or 20 years
from now your family will look upon your portrait on the mantel and glow with
pride as they tell future generations about how in-spite of being diagnosed with
cancer you contributed your sweat, and your energy for the greater good of all.
Your contribution made a difference in the lives of your brothers in-arms. Your
efforts helped to defeat the enemy of PC. Your grandsons were spared this scourge
because you made a difference. I pray that each of you will rise to the occasion,
and that when you lay your head on your pillow for the last time you can say,
I am ready now. I made a difference. I made my mark. I am proud of what I did
with the time granted me.
passed on in January 2008, finally losing his long battle.
is what Dr Steven Strum had to say about him:
Pinchot-- A star dimmed in our Universe.
Greeks did not write obituaries. They just asked one question after a man died:
Did he have passion? Harry had passion that would have led any army to victory.
He had a tiger in his tank & selflessly dedicated so much of his waking hours
to help others in their plight with PC. He wanted to leave a mark & he did. He
touched the lives of thousands of men & in doing so enhanced the lives of millions
of others. I was honored to be his physician for many years, and his employer
at the PCRI. But Harry & I were also brothers-in-arms, sharing our hopes & aspirations
& also our frustrations about what we knew we could accomplish if only we could
bring about a synergy of brotherhood in the PC community. On a lighter side, Harry
& his wife, Dee, and Miwha, my wife, and I, traveled together and had some memorable
times. The interactions of Harry, Hal, Gail & Victor & Glenn during the years
that I spent as medical director of the PCRI will always have a warm place in
my heart. Those were good times for all of us.
I could have somehow cloned the specialness within the heart & soul of Harry and
infused it into the PC community, we would have had a cure for this disease years
ago. When Glenn Weaver, Bob Each, Harry and I were training to make the ascent
on Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, I often silently reflected on the incredible tenacity
of Harry (and you too Bob). Here was a guy with active PC, little free testosterone
and significant anemia climbing mountains with 40 degree ascents. And then reaching
to the top of White Mountain with a 14,000 foot elevation. This was a man of conviction
& resolution that set out with a mission & accomplished it. He must have been
a Greek warrior in a past life. I will miss him. So Harry, I know you have arrived
in heaven by now and there must be a hell of a lot of people embracing you. Know
that you are loved and that you left your mark. And for those of us who remain
on this earthly plain we should never lose touch with our human unity -- our humanity,
as John Donne said in 1624:
man is an island unto himself,
man's death diminishes me,
I am involved in Mankind.
heart & soul will remain in the memories of many for a long long time.