My prostate cancer diagnosis: What I learned, by patient Nils Lindstrom

September 22, 2015 | by Nils Lindstrom

Nils Lindstrom Four weeks after surgery, Nils Lindstrom was back teaching typography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Sixty-year-old Nils Lindstrom never gave cancer a second thought. As a devout Mormon, he had never smoked, never drunk alcohol or used recreational drugs. He also maintained a healthy diet, exercised frequently and didn't have a family history of the disease. The diagnosis of prostate cancer, to say the least, was a surprise.

After finally accepting the diagnosis, Lindstrom began treatment at City of Hope's community practice site in Glendora, California. Last month, he had a robotic assisted laparoscopy surgery with surgeon Ali Zhumkhawala, M.D., assistant clinical professor of the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope, and is now finishing up treatment with radiation and hormone therapy.

Read the story of his prostate cancer diagnosis, and his ultimate acceptance of it, here.

In this article, Lindstrom shares some of the wisdom he's gained during his treatment journey, along with practical tips for patients who have been newly diagnosed.


1. Distract yourself.

Everyone kept telling me: “Calm down. Don’t stress. Stop reading so much on the Internet.” That’s all good advice, but I could never completely do it. I couldn’t find that switch to shut off the stress. If I could have found the switch to shut off the stress, I would have. What worked for me was managing the stress by balancing my research with other activities that were healthy and distracting.

2. Talk to your friends and family.

Let them know you’re afraid. Talk about their concerns with life. Often, they're dealing with issues far more challenging than you are. This helped shed perspective and calm me down.

3. Surround yourself with loved ones.

Being alone was the worst. My imagination, normally a great asset, turned into a monster. If your wife or significant other wants to go on an extended holiday without you, just say, “Sorry, I need you here." Even it's for no other reason than to keep you from reading horror stories on the Internet.

4. Find a reason to be grateful.

I’m only a few months into my cancer journey. I don’t know how this will turn out. But cancer has already been a blessing in disguise. It has cured my complacency toward service to others. It has cured my tendencies to withdraw to a quiet corner at family gatherings. It has cured my addiction to computer games. I can’t stand them anymore; I get so much more fulfillment paying attention to other people.

5. Own your cancer experience.

This is happening to you. Document it. Don’t be passive. Ask questions. Be involved in every decision. Don’t be afraid to second-guess advice. Be “That Patient.” Do the hard work you will be asked to do. It’s going to be all right. Prostate cancer is one of the most treatable and curable kinds of cancer men can get.


Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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