Bill L.

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About Bill L.

I apologize in advance because this will contain a bit of potty humor. In 2019, at age 60, I had a radical prostatectomy. In 2021, I had a recurrence with my PSA suddenly rising. Because of the aggressiveness of the cancer, my oncologist at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon, suggested I start on hormone therapy and a seven-week course of daily radiation. Those familiar with prostatectomy know that the procedure can result in complete or partial incontinence. Luckily for me, the problem was minimal, the main issue being urinary urgency, especially as the radiation began.
So, with the bladder issues in mind, the radiation staff instructs patients to come in with the bladder as full as possible to lift things out of the way and help to avoid further complications in the nether regions. In a perfect world, the radiation department would stay on an exact schedule, getting each patient in at their assigned time for their treatment. However, at a busy hospital like OHSU, there can be major variations in the schedule and I would sometimes have to wait beyond my appointed time. Ten minutes late with a bursting bladder…I could handle that. After twenty minutes, I would really start to squirm. Anything beyond that, and I would have to visit the bathroom and try to “let a little out” without losing my bladder balloon.
Lucky for me, I had my favorite radiation nurse, Adrian. After verifying my name and birthdate, Adrian would ask what music I wanted to listen to. The first week, I started out with the Beatles, and then began to branch out into other favorites. I will never forget the day I requested Billy Joel, and the first song that popped on was “Only the good die young”. Not the best choice for a cancer patient, but we had a good laugh about it.
Early on in my treatments, Adrian asked if I liked football. I told him I only watch a few games each year, but I bragged that I was now in a Fantasy Football league and I had just drafted my lineup. Adrian seized this information and used it for the remaining seven weeks. I don’t know if Adrian really is a huge football fan, but I do know he is a master of distraction. He knew I was coming in with a compromised, bursting bladder, so he would immediately begin asking me which players I had on my team, checking in every day about how each of my players was doing, and constantly taking my mind off my over-full bladder, which was now feeling even more pressure from being in a prone position.
Between listening to good music and being quizzed about Fantasy Football, I managed to never pee the radiation table…not even once! I also learned an important lesson about how a person like Adrian can take a repetitive job like sliding people on and off the radiation table, and turn it into his goal to help me be as comfortable as possible. By focusing on me and my interests, he used his brain and social skills to engage me and make me actually look forward to coming in for my treatments.
I never thought I would miss anyone that had anything to do with my 32 radiation treatments, but I do miss Adrian. He taught me something that I will carry with me for as long as I live. All it takes is a little compassion and understanding…and the element of distraction…to help others deal with difficult times in their lives. Thank you, Adrian!

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