My youngest daughter was just about ready to graduate the University of New Hampshire, and we were at this point where what do we do next. And I had ideas and plans for what empty nesting would be like. And none of it included divorce actually.
So he sent me off to a urologist, and my cancer was confirmed after I had a biopsy. And it was one of those things that really threw me into a tailspin because I had just moved, I had just started a new life and just begun to think about what would be my next step. Will I be in a relationship? Will I not be in a relationship? And then the specter of prostate cancer was hanging over me.
And, of course, I read a lot about it. I actually found ZERO at that time. I really was in kind of a place at that point where emotionally I was depressed, but I guess what I had to do was pull things together and get things done. And I think like most guys, I just started to make the punch list and go through it. And I focused on getting it done, getting the surgery over with.
I also had a hernia at the same time. So, they repaired that. Getting that over with and then worrying about what lied ahead. Now, as I mentioned in the intro, there are resources for men and their wives and their partners going through prostate cancer but not really much for a single guy.
Di Gesu: No. Tell me about that. And it was almost strange because the reaction was like oh well you should have someone with you.
And I had moved to a new city, a new apartment. I had three daughters. And my brothers both live hundreds of miles away. Even though they were extremely supportive, I had to go it alone. So, it was a little bit of a shock the first time I met with the urologist and the topic came up, but all of the subsequent meetings, I met with radiologists. I met with an oncologist. But I really, really had to figure out a way, and what I did is I took a notebook with me and took notes and tried to review what I was told, made a punch list and just followed it through.
I did actually meet a prostate cancer survivor, and I reached out to a local prostate cancer organization. And following that, of course, I think the bigger challenge was navigating the dating scene and navigating life after prostate cancer.
Bearse: Yeah, and you had a prostatectomy, which means you had your prostate removed, which can for a lot of men have a lot of side effects which you had mentioned which is incontinence and erectile dysfunction. That really puts a damper, a great difficulty on a number of life experiences, I guess, if you will. I imagine that it has a great impact on being able to have full sexual function and satisfaction.
The relationship of steady dating to self-esteem and sex role identity among adolescents
How do you sort of reconcile like all right I probably need to regain some of this control or heal some of these side effects before jumping into the dating scene?
Or did you? What were you thinking? Di Gesu: Well, I love the choice of the word damper because I did have both. I had incontinence.
I had ED. So, lay that over the potential of going out on dates and meeting women, it really, really hits the confidence level. I was incontinent. So, that certainly was a little bit of a turnoff. And then ED. Certainly, I guess what went through my mind was what do I have to offer a woman?
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Why would a woman want to be interested in me? It really, really weighs heavily on you when you start jumping into the dating scene. However, I had moved into a renovated mill building in Manchester, New Hampshire right on the Merrimack river.
Di Gesu: Yeah. There was an opportunity to kind of start socializing with folks, and I was invited to go to pubs and bars and a number of restaurants in Manchester.
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I made a couple of good friends, and that started opening up my social life. Not my dating life but my social life. And it gave me a little bit more confidence.
And I was still dealing with incontinence. I was still dealing with the ED. Bearse: Yeah, what did you say to him or her that said that we need to get you on one of these dating sites? What was the first reaction? And around the same time, I had a visit with my urologist. And I brought this up. I want to have a relationship.
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I want to jumpstart dating, but you know, I have these issues. One of the things that he said to me that stuck with me was look you had cancer. Bearse: And this was your urologist that said that? Di Gesu: Yeah, my urologist had said that. Bearse: Does he also have a psychology degree? And maybe he had had this conversation with someone else at one point or another.
But that stuck with me and helped me get enough nerve up to get on a dating site and start looking for someone, looking for love. At the same time, things started to improve. And my urologist had prescribed — we tried Cialis. Viagra seemed to help me. And that gave me a little bit more confidence as well to get out there and start dating. Rachel Rubin. One, remember that, and two, is that many women view intimacy as something much more than time in the bedroom.
Episode 3: Prostate Cancer and Dating
Did that ever come up in any of your conversations as you were getting back into the dating world? I think I was more having a crisis of confidence. I was kind of confident enough to go out on a date and engage with a woman and talk and have dinner and drinks. Where my problem was what happens once you like that person enough to want to be intimate with that person? So, I was matched up by one of my friends, and it was one of those disaster dates, but it was all a learning experience for me. It was all good because it gave me the confidence to keep pushing ahead and keep trying to meet someone.
Family is the first place where we learn expectations for our own lives and how to have relationships with others. Families need to have an informed, open, and supportive relationship with their youth. This means being comfortable talking about disability as a normal function of life, and that life itself includes sex, dating, and relationships.
Where are you? An informed and involved family is a prepared family. Know who your young person hangs out with. Know where they go.
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