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Peter: “One day I will die, all the others days I am going to live”

Name: Peter Örn
Age: 65
Family: Married with two children.
What: Free from prostate cancer “until proven otherwise”. He has written about his experiences in his book “Prostatacancer – en bok om hopp” (Prostate Cancer – a book about hope).

Peter Örn. Photo: Rebecka Uhlin

“First comes life, then continence and last potency,” my doctor told me. I had just found out that I had prostate cancer. I had had my suspicions and had therefore read up on the disease. When the diagnosis was given, I was determined that I wanted an operation. I wanted it out of my body, just get it out.

“Now it’s been six years and not one week passes that I don’t think about having been sick. There is a sadness in having been ill, but this has become gratitude for being alive and a shift in my attitude towards appreciating the little things in life.

“My advice to all those affected is to learn more about your disease and be an active patient when working with your doctor. They will give you a few choices, such as surgery, radiation or to wait. The treatments can have side effects like incontinence and impotence.

“Incontinence can be hard to accept. It can even become a social trauma so that you avoid being around people.

“Impotence affects your sex life, which is an important part of a relationship along with the closeness and tenderness it brings. An important lesson is that you need to talk about it and not turn your back on your partner. Your love life can be expressed in other ways.

“Throughout my life I have been very afraid of death. Prostate cancer opened the floodgates for my fear but also gave me the courage to look death in the eye and even plan my own funeral. And then death turns at the door and I hear my doctor’s words in my head; “Life first...”. I am more positive today than I was before. The fear of death is there, but it has faded. I now think to myself that one day I will die, but all the others days I am going to live.”

As told to: Fredrik Hedlund
First published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No 3, 2019.​​​​​​​