Cancer Again


Nov. 6, 2000 — It was supposed to be just another visit for another routine test, the eighth time I’d been asked to come back to the hospital since my prostate cancer was treated. This time they wanted to take an prostate and ordered the tests that led to today’s ultrasound. In measured tones he gives me the news: I have a tumor on my right kidney.

Gillenwater keeps talking as I sit stunned, tuning in and out as bits and phrases seep through: “early stage … no symptoms … remove kidney … soon as possible.” I can’t believe it. Not again. Surely, this isn’t for real. First a hip procedure, then a prostate cancer had been diagnosed because I’d had regular check-ups. And now this tumor was found while still quite small because I’d gotten good follow-up treatment. Thinking about it this way made me feel not only blessed, but pleased that I’d taken good care. I’d made my own luck — and gotten superb care — in a way an awful lot of guys don’t.

A recent survey by Louis Harris and Associates makes that abundantly clear. The poll of 1,500 men found that in the previous year one in four did not see a physician, one in three didn’t have a regular doctor, and more than half did not get a colonoscopy. Just a routine check, you know.

Anthony Hamilton is an actor and writer who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.