PLAID PACK: Prostate cancer survivor shares difficult decision to end sex life

WECT's Plaid Pack, sponsored by NHRMC, will launch Monday, February 6 (Source: WECT)
WECT's Plaid Pack, sponsored by NHRMC, will launch Monday, February 6 (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Eddie Soles says he will never forget the day he received the news.

"It was just as bad losing my mother and my father and my two brothers," says Eddie. "That was a devastating call."

A phone call from his doctor's nurse confirmed he had cancer.

"She asked me if I was by myself and I told her, 'No ma'am.' My son was there and that's when she says, 'I've got some bad news to tell you. You have prostate cancer,'" Soles said.

Not knowing whether this meant life or death, he made an appointment to see his doctor right away.

Initially, the doctor offered words of comfort letting him know prostate cancer is treatable with an over 90 percent survival rate if caught early.

"My doctor told me, 'You got the best cancer you can get,'" Eddie recalled. "'I mean, it's bad you get it but you got the best cancer.'"

Then he heard the gut-wrenching words -- if he didn't have his prostate removed, the cancer would spread.

Eddie, 55, engaged to be married, was faced with the decision many men have to make with this diagnosis. Not all men lose the ability to have sex after prostate cancer, but the probability goes up once the prostate is removed.

It's a difficult conversation for doctors.

"It's really hard to look a guy in the eyes and say you're going to be fine or you're going to lose your erection," says Dr. Michael Papagikos, a radiation oncologist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. "It's really hard to predict."

Papagikos says any prostate cancer treatment increases the risks.

"Any form of localized therapy, whether it's radiation, whether it's surgery, whether it's internal or external radiation, carries the risk of erectile dysfunction and affecting the sex life," he says. "The reason for it is the nerves that help control it, they run right along the prostate so it's very difficult to operate or irradiate without it coming close."

Eddie knew the risks. He also knew his options.

"You're either going to live or want to have sex and I chose to live," Eddie said firmly. "I want to live and my fiance, she supported me 100 percent and said, 'We are going to get through it,' and we are."

Eddie made the decision to have the surgery June 1.

His fiance, Katherine Ansbach, says it was never a consideration for her.

"If it was me, would he stand by me?" Katherine says in tears. "I'd rather have him here."

A couple months out of surgery, Eddie is doing relatively well. There have been some rough spots along the way, but he says he would not change this journey in any way.

"There are some bad parts about it but you know, I'm above the dirt and I'm living and I hope I'm cancer-free," he said.

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