Health & Wellness

Feeling the heat: prostate cancer survivor and hot flashes


Sweaty Businessman Wiping FaceI now have a much better appreciation and respect for what women mean when they suddenly fan themselves and declare they are experiencing “a personal summer.”

For years, I heard ladies talk about hot flashes due to hormonal changes in their bodies. But as a typical man, I brushed them off as a “female thing.”

Now, as a prostate cancer patient, I’m a member of the club.

The dirty little secret about prostate cancer, you see, is that it feeds off a man’s testosterone. So, as part of my treatment, I’ve been put on hormone injections that attack the testosterone levels in my body.

My oncologist, of course, told me that over time it might cause some weakening of muscle mass, and oh, by the way, you might get some hot flashes and night sweats.

And he was exactly right. Not long after getting the initial injection of Lupron, I had my first hot flash. I thought it was just the weather. It is, after all, summer in South Carolina.

But when the second, third and fourth flash came in rapid succession, I started looking around for a funeral home fan.

My wife, of course, just chuckled. “Now you know what women go through,” she said with a sense of smugness.

Indeed I do. One day last week, I charted my hot flashes and determined I get one about every 90 minutes. The first sensation is sweating around my eyebrows and upper lip. That is followed by a rush of warmth around my neck and hairline.

On average, my hot flashes last about 5 minutes and then slowly dissipate.

So, ladies, you now have my full appreciation and respect for what you’ve been going through. It’s uncomfortable, unpredictable and somewhat embarrassing.

Which is why the next time you see me, you’re likely to hear me say: “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”

Please try not to laugh. I’m a rookie.

By: Ken Burger, former Post and Courier sports columnist, prostate cancer survivor and local author. Reach Ken at ken.burger@rsfh.com

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