Over the years I have heard some stories that have made me laugh, really sad or downright livid. This story unfortunately is of the latter two. Imagine if you knew something was seriously wrong with your body and yet no-one, especially the doctors, would tell you what was happening to the point of almost gaslighting.
I will let him tell you in his own words…
My name is Michael and I’m an African-American male living in the United States. I have always been a very sporty person and my main hobbies were ice hockey and basketball. I then picked up on running and I was running 5km’s regularly. It was the end of 2017 you could basically say that I stopped all physical exercise, I just wanted and needed a break. I did put on a little weight, going from around 145lbs to like 160lbs, but that was not a problem. It was in February when I first started noticing that I was dribbling urine. It would happen during intense or innocuous moments like playing video games or getting out the car that could set off the dribbling. Then within a month or two it got worse it was like literally every day, constantly every day. That was when I first thought that I need to go and visit my general practitioner. In February I paid my GP a visit. He basically checked around my scrotum, penis and my abdomen. He asked if I had any back pain stiffness, which at the time I didn’t. After some lifestyle and daily routine questions he made me an appointment with the urologist.
It was August 2019 that I went to see the urologist. She checked my urine, did an ultrasound and checked to see if I could empty my bladder. She prescribed me the drug Oxybutynin (used for urinary incontinence and frequency), which she said would help with the dribbling urine. There were a few side effects, I was getting severe dry mouth and acid reflux. I went to see her a second time and could report that it was working to some extent and things had improved with the stress incontinence, but the acid reflux and dry mouth were a real problem, so I decided to stop taking it.
It was around November 2019 when I started working at Amazon as a warehouse team member. Unfortunately, the urine dribbling came back, severely, from just picking up packages. Also, I started to require the bathroom a lot more. At the same time, I started having stiffness in my back, the sides and the hip area but I had put that down to the physical exertions of lifting and moving boxes.
Soon afterwards, when I was showering, I would notice small bumps on the side of my groin area. I told my dad but he dismissed it as nothing to worry about – it was probably a rash or something. I also had a feeling, after peeing, that I had not emptied my bladder properly and my erections were not as strong as they usually were. It was about March 2020 that I started to have Covid like symptoms. I was having trouble breathing and getting the chills. I usually don’t really get sick a lot and that was probably the sickest I had ever got. I quit my job at Amazon as I was terrified of catching it.
Fast forward to summer 2020 and even though I had lost about 9 or 10lb, I had started online schooling for college and I didn’t get sick again after that so I was just getting on with life. Towards the end of summer, however when I did go to the toilet, I had a very weak flow and some discolouration. After all this I did finally decide to go and see my urologist. My father had come with me to the consultation. I was laying down but I was looking at the Imaging screen that they were looking at and basically I could see the left side. I didn’t know exactly which organ part or what it was but the left side, you know, it was normal, but then on the right side there was just a big tumor. Then I saw the worried reaction on the nurse’s face. Afterwards they spoke to my father but not to me. I knew something was wrong but they reassured me otherwise.
In early December, just after that visit, that I started to really get fatigued very easily and my leg would go completely numb at times. I asked my father about it, I asked him for transparency and he just denied everything. The doctors had prescribed me antibiotics. Rather than helping I started getting sharp pains in my legs, my ribs and my shoulder. My shoulder in particular was feeling very heavy and my chest was tight. I was even having heart palpitations. When I would visit the hospital they would draw blood, a lot of blood but they never told me the results. Even when I called them, they would tell me everything was alright.
I have prostate cancer.
In December 2020, I visited a separate urologist and they gave me an MRI scan. It was stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer and it had spread absolutely everywhere.
I am 22 years old.