Sunday, May 1, 2011

Know the difference between signs and symptoms

My husband Terence was surprisingly diagnosed with advanced/mets. Prostate cancer in July of ’09.  He hadn’t been sick so we were  surprised that he had cancer and shocked that it was so advanced.
 I wish we had known the difference between signs and symptoms. In fact, we were so ignorant of cancer in general we were naive to its symptoms and definitely knew nothing about signs.

Looking back, I saw signs about 2 years before the devastating diagnosis. I didn’t realize I was recognizing signs (I didn’t see them as something wrong, all I knew is something was different).  Since prostate cancer is one of a personal nature, Terence being a typical guy wasn’t too comfortable talking about it when I brought it up and he regularly dismissed my comments.  I noticed a few things such as  frequent urination (among other things) and  about 12 months prior to his first symptom, he seemed to tire more easily, seemed weaker in general and started losing some weight.

It was the symptoms that finally got his attention although signs were present at least 24 months prior to the first pain.  Unfortunately the symptoms presented themselves only weeks before the actual diagnosis. 

We are cultured to recognize symptoms for early detection, but signs can be present much earlier.

Know the difference between signs and symptoms

A sign is also a signal that something is not right in the body. Signs are signals that are usually noticed and seen by someone else -- maybe a loved one, or a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional for example; Fast breathing, and abnormal lung sounds heard through a stethoscope may be signs of pneumonia.

A symptom is a signal of disease, illness, injury, or that something is not right in the body. Symptoms are felt or noticed by the person who has them, but may not be easily seen by anyone else. For example, weakness aches, and feeling short of breath may be symptoms of pneumonia.

I don’t think we should live in fear and be paranoid when signs seemingly pop up but we are mortal bodies in finite flesh susceptible to possible toxic surroundings.  I’m only suggesting we live a little more harmoniously with our bodies and those closest to us.

I'm not second guessing ourselves with the "what if" question,  I'm just making an observation that prostate cancer (in particular) deals with such a sensitive area of the male anatomy, that men can be a bit be embarrassed to discuss with their wives or  partners what could be early signs of cancer and possibly miss an early diagnosis.


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