Hi again everybody.
So when we last left Ed, Dr. Nicholas Romas, the world-renowned Chair of the Urology Department at the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan, was leaning forward from behind his desk, looking me in the eye and saying with a straight face, "Ed, you have cancer and you have a LOT of cancer."
This ruining of my day just confirmed what I had been prepared for by my general practitioner, Dr. John Cornwall, who had given me scouting reports that I was in trouble, I mean, BIG trouble. We've all had moments in our lives where, for one split second, we are completely disbelieving of what we had just seen or heard.
Not denial, mind you, just stunned.
In my case, here's why: I had no history of cancer in the family, no symptoms -- none. It wasn't like I was experiencing any interior pain or that I was getting up out of bed multiple times over the course of the night.
Nothing, nothing at all.
It wasn't like Dr. Cornwall had warned me during my check-up the year before saying, "Hey, we have to keep an eye on your PSA." And if he had, I wouldn't have known what he was talking about.
No, I went from 0 to 60 in three seconds.
So there I am sitting in Dr. Romas' office and two questions come to mind I can't imagine asking, but must.
"Dr. Romas, am I gonna live?"
He says, "there's a 90 percent chance."
Being a baseball knucklehead all my life, I immediately think to myself, "Hmmm. 90 percent. Let's see. Whitey Ford was 9-1 his rookie season in 1950. That's a .900 winning percentage and he's in the Hall of Fame. OK, that's good!"
I swear that's what I first thought.
Then I ask, "What are the chances of the cancer returning one day?"
He says, "70 percent chance that it won't."
"Hmmm, 70 percent. Well, the inverse of that is 30 percent. Guys who hit .300, they go to Cooperstown. That's good, too. I'll take that. Let's get it on!"
I leave the office and now here I am downstairs on a noisy Manhattan street but I hear no noise. Passers-by move in slow motion. It like out of a movie.
And for some reason, I walk to my left and then take a left at the corner.
I walk into St. Paul's Church.
There, I'm standing in the back and start talking to myself with Him.
I start thinking of my parents.
"God," I say, "My father, Big Ed, was torpedoed three times in World War II, once in the Atlantic and twice in the Pacific -- like you don't already know -- and survived. He was the most heroic person I've ever met. Please give me his courage. My mom came to this country from Italy, unable to speak the language, and was the most resilient, strongest person I've known -- always positive, always smiling, always looking at the bright side. Please give me her perseverance during this difficult time."
I'm just about to walk out of the church when I turn around and say, "Oh, and God, if you could please throw in not a lot of pain, that would be really good too!"
So how did this happen?
I didn't smoke, drink or ever take drugs. Was it because I took the D-train in the Bronx to school? Was it growing up nearby the Major League Expressway?
Who knows ...
I drive home and now comes the hard part. How am I going to explain this to my wife at the time?
"How was the doctor's today?"
"Well, ah, well, hmmm. I, ah, let's see, I might have, ah, some sorta virus or something."
I finally came clean about two days later.
How much trust can you put in another person?
I put ALL of mine in Dr. Romas and my other new best friend, Dr. Paul Gliedman, my oncologist. Over and over again, I've said to people, the random assignment of who will treat you means everything, that they are filled with understanding and compassion and have a kind bedside manner.
And armed with the knowledge they imparted that cancer is no longer a death sentence, that there is a 96 to 97 percent cure rate if prostate cancer is caught early.
Back to baseball for a moment. Who wouldn't want to hit .960 or .970?
At the time I was diagnosed, more than 39,000 American men were losing their lives to prostate cancer. In 2010, that figure has dropped to 29,000.
Still too much.
God gave me a second at-bat.