Thursday, December 24, 2009

Post Surgery Update - "The Clamps"

Just wanted to give a quick update after my recent surgery on 12/10. The surgery was at the Shand's surgery center was an outpatient surgery to go into my urethra tube and remove was was thought to be a sucher that did not dissolve from my original prostatectomy. The surgery was a littl more involved as the doctor found that 2 plastic clamps used in separating the nerve bundles during my original surgery did not fall away like they were supposed to in post healing and actually were protruding into my urethra tube causing a restriction and also gathering particles from the urine as it passed. Once I was done with the surgery I found out I had to wear the catheter for 5 days instead of overnight. I was given an antibiotic and pain medicine and sent on my way. Its been 2 weeks since the surgery and I can tell a huge difference, the stream is much faster and no more sensitivity. All in all it was a success and I am ready for 2010!

Happy Holidays!
Darren

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My 1.5 Year Post Surgery Update

It is hard to believe that its been one and a half years since my surgery. Time flies by so fast these days. I wanted to provide an update on how I am doing post surgery with surgery side effects and overall general health.

First, my general health is really good. I did 3 5k races, 1 triathlon and 1 duathlon in 2009. I had never done any running events in my life so this should tell you how I am feeling physically. I can run 4 miles right now in less than 40 minutes and am currently training to do an Adventure Race (Trekking, Mountain Biking, Canoeing) in January. I am also planning road cycling and mountain biking races next year in addition to completing a 10k race.

Second, I want to address my surgery side effects. I never fully recovered from the ED issues caused by the surgery and require medication to help in this area. I assume at this point this may not return to full function and will continue praying about the situation. I thank God for an understanding wife and it has not become an issue in our marriage. In fact, our marriage is stronger than ever. As far as incontinence, that has been fine for a long time, however I developed an issue of of having to go to the restroom over 10 times per day and late at night 2-3 times. I thought this would go away since I no longer have a prostate so I visited Dr Parraketil last week at Shand's and he ran a scope in my urethra and found that one of the clamps/sutures used to repair the urethra during the surgery had not dissolved and was protruding into my urethra tube. A stone has formed over the suture and has created a blockage. I will be having surgery in December to have the stone and suture removed. Its a delicate 2 hour outpatient surgery that requires me to be under general anesthesia and wear a catheter a few days afterwards. I wanted to post this in case other folks that have had surgery developed these symptoms.

I do appreciate the emails from around the world and appreciate your encouragement. So as for me 1.5 years post surgery? I am doing GREAT, I am so thankful for everyday, God has given me a second chance and I don't want to blow it.

As far as you, I will continue to pray for each of you that God will comfort you during this season in your life and that you will live everyday like its your last and do something you never thought you could do!

God Bless You!
Darren

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This is NOT Goodbye

In my last post I stated that it would be my last but I have a few more things to say and decided to make this my last post on this blog. I have been inspired over the past few weeks with the effort of Lance Armstrong in the Tour De France. I just finished his book "Lance Armstrong, Its not about the bike" and went through a wave of emotion as I read about his battle with cancer and his courageous return to cycling. The work his foundation is doing for cancer and cancer awareness is incredible and wanted to acknowledge the inspiration it has given me to continue my journey through endurance sports for my cause. I am unable to compete in a triathlon for the remainder of this year due to my elbow injury but I am training for a duathlon and a 10k race by end of 09', and will be training for 2 half-marathons in the 1st qtr of 2010. You can follow my weekly training on my blog or follow me on twitter for my personal/training updates as well. I continue to race for all those affected by cancer, especially prostate cancer and all the families affected by this disease. I also race to create awareness for proactive prostate cancer screening beginning at age 40. If you are 40 years old you should receive a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) as part of your annual physical, its 10 seconds that could save your life.

Thanks again for all your support, and if you just found out that you have prostate cancer, I hope this information brings you comfort. I pray that God will bless you and your family through this journey. Please feel free to email me with any questions or just to tell me your story. I want to bless you in anyway that I can.

Don't forget to look to the left side of the blog and scroll down and follow me on Twitter.

God Bless You ALL, LIVESTRONG, Life is Good!

This is not goodbye,
Darren Ritch
Who do you race for?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"Its Been a Year to Remember"

On June 30th I celebrated (yes celebrated) the 1 year anniversary of my surgery to remove prostate cancer from my body. As you have read its been a crazy ride and I thank God for the best possible outcome. I am a new man as a result of this experience. I won't say its been a total cake walk, its mentally tough to hear the words that you have cancer and having major surgery was not easy and I am still dealing with some of side effects. I continue to pray for healing and have faith that it will happen. Its still better than having cancer in my body. In the years to come I will continue my work in creating awareness for the disease and continue racing for the cause.

I want to thank everyone for their support and tell everyone who reads this blog for the first time to "Keep the Faith". This will be my last post on this blog, I am so thankful I did the blog and hope it helped some folks along the way and hope it continues to help others as they search for answers. I will continue to answer emails that come to me from the blog and enjoy hearing from others.

May God Bless You all!
Darren Ritch
Prostate Cancer Survivor and advocate

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One year Anniversary - A Message of Hope

Well, on May 29th it will be the 1st anniversary of my diagnosis of prostate cancer. Its been an unbelievable year, high and lows, many tears along with fears, but all in all I have a lot to be thankful for. I have met so many people that have inspired me and lost some people to this disease that I admired. I finally know how fragile and precious life is really is and am thankful for all my blessings. As far as my health after surgery 11 months ago, I only have issue with my male function that is taking longer to recover and went to the doctor this past week and am working with them on a therapy strategy that will help in recovery. I will continue to have patience and prayer in this area. I thank God for a great loving and supportive wife, son & family, without them it would have been really tough. I am also thankful for the many great people I met over the past year, from my Doctors and Surgeons at Shands Urology Center, to my friends Scott and Greta at Athletes for a Cure, and personal trainer Amber Toole (She helped me accomplish athletic things I never thought I could do), Dave and Kara Deschenes (Dave is my new Triathlon Coach and fellow PC survivor), and Brett Troia (My captain of Team Procure Triathlon team, and fellow PC survivor, http://bretttroia.blogspot.com/) and The Vinecki family (Team Winter), Michael's courageous battle with a rare form of PC and his daughters inspiring story of raising over $100k for prostate cancer research to honor her dad by participating in triathlons at age 9 were so inspiring. There are too many others to list, but I do appreciate you ALL!


So that brings me to the health positives over the past year. I will bullet this out.


1. I lost 31lbs
2. Was able to lower cholesterol to 178 from 220 and stopped medication
3. Was able to cut blood pressure medication in half, and looks like I will be able to stop altogether
4. Full recovery of incontinence after surgery (side effect of surgery)
5. Trained and ran first 5k race of my life and then ran a second 5k
6. Trained and completed first Triathlon of my life (Swim, Bike, Run)
7. Currently training for Sprint Triathlon and Olympic Triathlon (I must be nuts)
8. A renewed outlook on life
9. CANCER FREE

Wow, after listing this out its hard to believe how blessed I was through this trial the past year. I just want to communicate a message of hope for those who are reading this blog for the first time. When you first hear those words "You have Prostate Cancer", its seems like its the end, but in reality its just the beginning of a new life. I don't want to paint a rosy picture of this because its a tough road to go through treatment and some will not win their fight, but you have to stay positive and educated of your situation and make the best of it. Always remember its harder on your family than it is on you because they love you so much and don't have any control over the situation. So spend every ounce of energy and time with the ones you love, because life is precious and short, no matter if you have cancer or not you should give them a hug and kiss EVERYDAY and tell them how much you love them.

I pray for you all each day and wish you the very BEST in your journey, God Bless You!

Life is Good

Darren

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Climb

In less than one month it will be the one year anniversary of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was the 1 in 6 men who will be diagnosed with PC. As I look back in reflection it was an unbelievable year. I am truly blessed because we caught the cancer early and I am cancer free. I have a 95-99% of non-recurrence in the next 5 years and most folks I have talked to that had surgery have gone many years beyond without recurrence. It was definitely a year of highs and lows but through it all God was with me. It has also been a blessing to have such a GREAT family and friends, always encouraging through it all. I also have so many great new friends as a result, from the survivors I have talked/blogged with, folks from Athletes from a Cure and everyone I met through them as well. We also lost friends and folks to this disease and we have to keep fighting for a cure. I personally got a second chance on life, a wake up call on my health. Its still hard to believe that I ran a 5k race and a triathlon and will continue to race for the cause and awareness for proactive screening. (If you would like to follow my training progress and race schedule please go to my new blog; http://www.athleticsaftercancer.blogspot.com/ for the latest updates)

I have been looking for the words to describe this past year and recently I heard a song by Mylie Cyrus called "The Climb" that was as close to what I would say about my life over the past 11 months. I captured the words below because they are so good. I am sure this applies in a lot of peoples lives, but if you are just beginning the journey of being diagnosed with prostate cancer this is a good anthem for you as you begin your journey. May God bless you in your climb!

"THE CLIMB"....

I can almost see it
That dream I'm dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying"You'll never reach it"
Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high
There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb
The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometime may knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going
And I, got to be strong
Just keep pushing on'Cause there's always going to be another Mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Call me a Triathlete!

That right! Less than 11 months ago I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer at age 41 and was out of shape, but in less than 10 months since my robotic radical prostatectomy surgery I am now an official "Triathlete". That's right, in the 10 months since my surgery I trained very hard and lost 27lbs pre-surgery, ran a 5k race and completed a super sprint Triathlon. If you would have told me that pre-diagnosis that I would have accomplished those things, I would have told you to talk to the hand! I even went for my 9 month check-up with Dr Parekattil a few days before the race and he said I was doing so well that I only had to see him once a year for a check up and PSA test. I feel FABULOUS! Thanks to all those folks who donated to the Athletes for a Cure/Prostate Cancer Foundation in support of my triathlon. I raised $2850, which far exceeded my goal and my team around about $3500 total for the event. That was totally awesome. God bless you all! Life is Good!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

9 Month PSA Results

I am so relieved today because I just found out my 9 month (since my surgery) PSA came back undetectable, less than zero! I don't know why I was so nervous about the results from this time, its still an emotional thing. I guess I'm still human after all. Also, my first triathlon is in 2.5 weeks and I exceeded my fundraising goal of $2500. Thanks for all the incredible support! Its so nice to be able to blog about good news! For all the folks following my blog and the first timers I want you to NEVER GIVE IN! Embrace your family and friends, appreciate the little things in life, and do something you never thought you would do in your lifetime. Don't focus on the negative, when you peel back all the layers in life, we truly have a lot to be thankful for. We may not understand why things happen sometimes but we have to make the best with what we have been dealt. I trust God has a plan and even though I don't understand why some things happen, I do know that he cares for us. John 3:16. God Bless you ALL! Life is Good!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

9 Month Update

I can't believe that on March 30th it will be the 9 month anniversary of my surgery. It seems like a lifetime ago because of all the incredible things I have had the opportunity to do and fantastic people I have met as a result of my cancer. We have lost some very important folks in that time frame which keeps things in perspective. I will continue my work as an advocate and evangelist for prostate cancer awareness. Proactive screening is so important and I cannot stress how important a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) is beginning at age 40 with your annual physical.

I wanted to give everyone an update on my progress before I leave for vacation. Physically I am in the best shape of my life. Since my surgery I have lost 25lbs, can run 3.1 miles with ease and train 6 days a week (Swimming, Cycling, Running, Weight Training & Karate). My blood pressure had been 105/68 for a month. I will be getting my 6th month PSA test in a few weeks and will post the results. My incontinence is 99.98% better, I rarely have issues. My other male function has been slow to return, but is making progress. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Most other guys I talk with said it took a good year to totally heal so I am being patient. My wife and son have been so great through all this and I am really blessed to have them. God has really blessed my this past 9 months, its been an incredible experience, with highs and lows. I do appreciate all the emails, facebook post and tweets from twitter (see my daily twitter updates on the left column of this blog), you all have been great and I appreciate you helping me spread the word! Life is Good!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Michael Vinecki - Passing of a True Hero

It is with great sadness to inform you that on Thursday March 12th Michael Vinecki has passed on. He was a hero to me because we were around the same age and to see his courage through all of this was amazing. I met Michael and his family (I have Winter's autograph on my hat) last year at the Athletes for a Cure Triathlon and was truly inspired by his story and what his family has done in creating awareness and raising money for prostate cancer research. I was so inspired that I got off the couch after my surgery and ran a 5k race and am training for my first triathlon in April and have raised over $6k of money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He will truly be missed by a lot of people but left behind a wonderful legacy that will help save lives into the future and beyond. Please join me in praying for his family through this difficult time and that he will keep his hand on them as they continue this journey we call life. I promise to keep fighting for the cause in Michael's memory and will "Never Give In".

Here are the arrangements:

Visitation: Michael will be shown at his home on Wednesday March 18, 2009
Address: 514 Camp Ten Road
Gaylord, MI
Time: 3pm-8pm
Visitation will also preceed the Funeral Service at Gaylord St. Mary Cathedral
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009
Time: 2pm-4pm

Funeral Service at Gaylord St. Mary Cathedral
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2009
Time: 4pm
In lieu of Flowers, a college fund has been established for the Vinecki children through Northwestern Bank. Please contact the Funeral Home for any further details at
989-732-1770

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Join me in "Making a Difference"

Well it's been almost 8 months since my surgery and I am doing very well. From a health standpoint, my incontinence is 99% better and my male functions are making significant progress and I am very pleased with how I feel. I seriously am in the best shape of my life, as you saw I ran my first 5k a few weeks back and am also running in another on March 22nd. If you have read my blog you know that I am training to do my first Triathlon. It will be a super sprint triathlon and its called the St Anthony's Meek and Mighty and will be on April 25th in St Petersburg, FL. I have decided to raise money for the Athletes for a Cure/Prostate Cancer Foundation and registered myself as an athlete so I can raise money for prostate cancer research. I personally had a great outcome with my situation, but others are going through rough times. Because my outcome was so good I want to give back and do something that will help others now and into the future. I am asking each of you to help out with the cause. Every donation counts no matter if its $1 or $10,000 it all goes toward research to fight this disease. Please join me in the fight and together we can make a difference. I again am humbled by all the wonderful post and emails of encouragement and thank you all for you consideration.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men. Men are 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than women are to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Athletes for a Cure, a program of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, is a new fundraising and awareness program to assist individual athletes in their quest to raise money for better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research with a simple, yet urgent goal: to find better treatments and a cure for recurrent prostate cancer.I would appreciate your support and ask you click on this link http://athletes.kintera.org/other/darrenritch?faf=1&e=2193461926 to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Prostate Cancer Foundation .
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Thank you again for your support!

Your Friend,
Darren

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mission Accomplished!



Its eleven thirty am on Sunday February 11th and I am writing to tell you that today I have accomplished what seemed to me many weeks ago to be a task that I would never complete in my lifetime. On a very cold and chilly morning (30 degrees), I got up at 5:15am to eat some breakfast in preparation for my first 5k race. It was cold in the house and I could have easily laid back down under those warm covers but all I could think about is completing my goal in finishing a 5k race. Peggy and Tyler got up and we drove over to the hobby lobby parking lot and met up with my trainer Amber Toole and my brother Chad at 6:45am. As you read in past blog posts Amber has been my trainer and we trained together for this race. We arrived at the race start line around 6:55am and I felt really bad for Peggy, Tyler and my brother Chad for having to stand in 30 degree weather to support me in the race. My wife and son have been my rock through my training and it was so comforting to know they were there to cheer me on. I was also glad my brother Chad and sister-in-law Linda were there to support me as well. How could I fail with all the loving support. Amber and the rest of us warmed up for about 10 minutes and they called 5 minutes to race start. I was a little concerned because I never trained in weather below 50 degrees and it was 30. I was a little nervous and very excited waiting for the race start. The gun finally sounded and I waved to my family (with the video cameras) as I ran by and we were off. I think the freezing weather numbed my lungs because it never bothered me during the race. Amber and I stayed together during the entire race and it really helped me to have her encouragement. Another surprise was the number of steep hills throughout the race, I had not trained on hills this size and it was a little intimidating at first. Once I made it through the first big hill I began to gain confidence and we continued on the path. Along the way I had to slow the pace slightly to catch my breath but keep pushing on. When we saw the finish line with 2 tenths of a mile left I felt a rush of emotion and when we came around the corner and headed toward the finish line I felt an exhilarating rush of accomplishment run through my body. It was an unbelievable since of accomplishment capped off with a big hug from Peggy and Tyler. I was so thankful for that great hug and became emotional thinking back about everything we have been through together as a family this past 7 months. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with Peggy and Tyler, I couldn't made it through all of this without them.

My goal was to finish the race and I finished in 32:09. That was a personal best throughout my training times. I ran this race to show cancer that it would not defeat me and I also ran for my wife Peggy and son Tyler because they were always there for me and finally I dedicated and ran for everyone who has been affected by prostate cancer, whether you are a survivor, had a family member affected, or have just been diagnosed.

Thanks again for ALL the post and emails of encouragement. I want to leave you with this message. "Your only limits in life are what you say you can't do"

-Darren

Video of my big finish:


video


My Trainer Amber:




Start Line at the Ocala Marathon 5k:





Monday, January 26, 2009

My First 5k Race "Dedicated to You"!

I am currently in a training class for work in Houston, TX and finishing my training for the race in the evenings. I am running my first official 5k race on Sunday (Feb 1st). If you have read my blog up until this point you will know that I have never ran an official race in my life. I just wanted everyone who has read my blog, emailed me and posted comments, whether you have been diagnosed, or had a loved one diagnosed with prostate cancer or had a close friend diagnosed, or lost someone to prostate cancer, I am dedicating my first race to you. I will be praying for each of you the morning of the race and run each step for each of you. Each of you are my source of inspiration and I love each of you and thank God that you came into my life. If I could step into your shoes to ease the pain I would. This is the only way I know to give back by running each step for you. Thank you again for all the inspiration you give me each day and hope that I can give each of you a glimmer of hope and help you realize that life is too short and you have to cherish every second you have on this earth. I am living life without boundaries and it is so liberating! Stay tuned for my next post next week along with pictures and hopefully a video. Take care and I will see you on the back side of my first official 5k race! Life is Good!