Written by Jeff Marchi
In January of 2010, following rising PSAs (prostate specific antigen) and after several biopsies, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s the most common cancer among men in the United States. Most people don’t know that 13 out of every 100 men get prostate cancer and the older the guy, the greater the risk. Well, I was 63 years old back then, so I qualified. June of 2008, my 88-year-old dad died of prostate cancer. I kept wondering if I was somehow at greater risk. It wasn’t until one year ago that my doctor discovered that I’d inherited the BRCA2 gene mutation from my mother, which significantly increased my risk for prostate cancer.
I’m now 73 years old, and during the past 11 years I’ve had quite an adventure navigating surgery, radiation and medical therapies. I’ve always been physically fit and active, stick with healthy nutrition and keep a positive attitude, and these traits helped me throughout. However, my greatest challenge was the emergence of severe hot flashes, the most common symptom men like me experience while on the hormonal therapy that tamps down my male hormone, testosterone. Yes, men do get hot flashes! Let’s say that I now have new respect for what women go through during their menopause years.
My hot flashes often started with a feeling of fatigue, then heat across my chest, working its way to the top of my head. Then came a sopping sweat, dripping down over my eyebrows. I was so miserable that if I went out to dinner, I would preemptively request 16 ounces of ice water which I’d down immediately upon feeling a hot flash. Ice water and fans were my only relief from the hourly onset of these hot flashes.
Several months ago, through my AnCan support group, I was made aware of an Embr Labs research study using their Wave wearable device and app to manage hot flashes in men diagnosed with prostate cancer. I enrolled and completed the study and was finally able to control my hot flashes. All I can say is that the Embr Wave dramatically reduced my hot flashes. This is a priceless gift because my quality of life was sinking with the unpredictable and severe hot flashes I was experiencing 24/7.
An added attraction is that I’m a lifelong geek, having worked in the computer field for over 50 years. Like a kid with a toy, I got to tinker with both the original Wave device and the newest Wave 2, providing feedback to the Embr research team with whom I’ve now become good friends.
If you’re a guy with prostate cancer suffering with hot flashes, just know you’re not alone. And that there is a non-medicinal, more natural way to control hot flashes and get on with life. I wear my Wave 2 every day and use the All Night Mode to get my eight hours of sleep. Not having to stress over hot flashes leaves me more energy to stay positive about life, enjoy my family and friends, be focused on healthy living habits and keep up with my swing dancing. It’s great to get out and socialize minus fans, ice water and towels. I’ve reclaimed my life.