Patient Stories

Allen Rizzi – The long tunnel

March 31, 2023 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Prostate cancer survivor, Allen Rizzi, has written a book to help newly diagnosed men prepare for treatment. He tells us more.

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Allen Rizzi (74) lives in North Carolina, USA and Northern Italy with his wife.

As I was cruising down life’s highway, I always felt pretty good about my health, often taking it for granted. I had been a professional surfer in my younger years and an outdoorsman and traveller all of my life, always eating well and exercising regularly. For the most part, my health was great, and I felt it would stay that way.

I put my life on cruise control and enjoyed every minute. Then one day I missed the road sign that said: Long Tunnel Ahead.

That obscured road sign popped up in late 2019 in the form of a PSA value that had suddenly increased by 78%. Though I had been tested regularly, beginning at age 62, with a gradually rising PSA, this sudden jump got my attention. However, my primary physician assured me that it was normal for my age.

In early 2021, I insisted on seeing a urologist and after a biopsy, he immediately told me that I had a Gleason Score of 7 and Stage 3b prostate cancer. At that point, I was thrust into the darkness of the long tunnel.

Choosing treatment

After more testing, including a bone scan and an MRI, I learned that I had a lymph gland leaning on the cancerous area of my prostate gland. I was referred to a radiation oncologist and after even more evaluation my diagnosis was swiftly upgraded to Stage 4 prostate cancer. When all therapeutic options were discussed in detail, I chose the radiation route because in my case it offered the most hope of successfully eradicating the cancer completely.

I was put on hormone therapy for one month and then started extensive external beam radiation therapy. These treatments comprised 25 prophylactic treatments of the prostate and surrounding tissues and 19 specifically targeted to the affected area of the prostate gland.

In addition to the radiation treatments, I was told that I would be required to continue the hormone therapy every three months for two years. Basically, the hormone therapy lowers the testosterone which in turn acts like a fertiliser for prostate cancer. The side effects are many and unpleasant and made me even more anxious to see some glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

Helping other men

I have been out of radiation for over a year and a half and have just one more hormone injection to go. My PSA is now clinically undetectable.  Part of what has kept me going was to write a book to help prepare other men diagnosed with this disease cope with the ordeal.

My book, Coping with the Six Letter Word Cancer, is available through Amazon in both paperback and digital editions. It details diagnosis, treatment and aftercare in depth. It’s my sincere hope that others benefit from the personal narrative of my journey.

No tunnel is forever

As with all tunnels we enter while travelling down our chosen roads, we expect that there will be a burst of sunshine at the end of the tunnel and something good on the other side of the darkness. For me the full bright light is again upon me but filtered by my experience with prostate cancer.

Now that I’m technically a cancer survivor, I see that sunshine in filtered colours that both remind me of the journey through the darkness and of the rays of hope I see in every tomorrow. Travelling through the dark tunnel of cancer has made me appreciate each day more fully and has made me a wise and better person for the experience. For those who are just entering the darkness, remember that no tunnel is forever.

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Click here to read more about Allen’s book on Oncology Buddies bookcase.

Laurelle Williams

MEET THE EDITOR – Laurelle Williams

Laurelle Williams is the editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. [email protected]

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