■ Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. More than 2.5 million men in the U.S. diagnosed at some point with prostate cancer are still alive today.
One of the biggest road blocks to men taking care of their health is the fact that they’re men.
In Zierdt’s case, he remembers even when he was very sick several months ago during the episode that led to his diagnoses, it took pleading from his wife, Ginger, to convince him to see a doctor.
A while back, while shaving, he sliced the tip of this thumb off and called Ginger home from work to help bandage it up. Upon seeing a blood-stained bathroom, she convinced him to go to the emergency room.
Even recently, when he experienced pain in his kidney area and wasn’t sure whether he should bother the doctors at the Mayo Clinic with it, it was Ginger again who reminded him to take care of himself.
“She said to me, ‘You know, they don’t mind when you call,’” Zierdt recalled.
“We’re wired that way,” Zierdt said. “We don’t want to show weakness, we don’t want to show vulnerability.”
And that, he said, can be dangerous.
When he finally got checked, doctors rated his prostate cancer an 8 on the Gleason Scale (a system used to measure prostate cancer). A score of 8 suggests the cancer is aggressive and likely to spread.
His prognosis is good at this point. Zierdt goes in for surgery Monday where he hopes doctors will be able to remove his prostate and the lymph nodes around it. With luck, they’ll sew him back up and send him home for recovery. He also may be in for a little radiation.
One of the things he’s learned throughout this process, he said, is the value of communication between patients and physicians. He’s been able to communicate directly with his local care team as well as the surgical team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.