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Just six months after a divorce, Jon Di Gesu was diagnosed with prostate cancer. While navigating his prostate cancer journey, he quickly realized that there was a lack of resources for single men battling this disease. Listen online, or subscribe and download on your favorite podcasting platform. Episodes are available for listening on Apple PodcastsAnchor. Listen now on our website, download a PDF of the transcriptor read the full transcript below. And someone who has firsthand knowledge, firsthand experience with all of this is my guest today, Jon Di Gesu, prostate cancer survivor, fellow New Englander and my friend.
Jon Di Gesu: Thank you, Jamie. Bearse: You had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and then also been really sort of forced to gain the courage to reenter the dating scene. Bearse: And I can relate with you on the divorce part.
Your prostate cancer diagnosis came on the heels of your divorce. Bearse: So, take us back to that time in your life. Where were you sort of mentally and emotionally at that time? And my marriage just fell apart. And it was a little bit of a shock to me and probably looking back not as big a shock as it was when it happened. But the marriage fell apart, and I was living in New Hampshire at that time.
So, in that state, it was a relatively quick turnaround. I had to reorganize my life. I had to move. Financially, it was a huge impact on me, and emotionally, it really tore my world apart because I was at a point at my age, I was 59 years old, and we were becoming empty nests. My youngest daughter was just about ready to graduate the University of New Hampshire, and we were at this point where what do we do next. And I had ideas and plans for what Beautiful lady ready dating Manchester New Hampshire nesting would be like. And none of it included divorce actually.
But anyway, 6 months after the divorce — actually less than 6 months after the divorce — I had gone for my annual physical, and the doctor felt something unusual although my PSA was relatively normal. So he sent me off to a urologist, and my cancer was confirmed after I had a biopsy. And it was one of those things that really threw me into a tailspin because I had just moved, I had just started a new life and just begun to think about what would be my next step.
Will I be in a relationship? Will I not be in a relationship? And then the specter of prostate cancer was hanging over me. And, of course, I read a lot about it. I actually found ZERO at that time. I really was in kind of a place at that point where emotionally I was depressed, but I guess what I had to do was pull things together and get things done. And I think like most guys, I just started to make the punch list and go through it. And I focused on getting it done, getting the surgery over with. I also had a hernia at the same time.
So, they repaired that. Getting that over with and then worrying about what lied ahead. Now, as I mentioned in the intro, there are resources for men and their wives and their partners going through prostate cancer but not really much for a single guy.
Tell me about that. And it was almost strange because the reaction was like oh well you should have someone with you. And I had moved to a new city, a new apartment. I had three daughters. And my brothers both live hundreds of miles away. Even though they were extremely supportive, I had to go it alone. So, it was a little bit of a shock the first time I met with the urologist and the topic came up, but all of the subsequent meetings, I met with radiologists.
I met with an oncologist. I had to do various things, as you know, tests and blood work and all of that, and just about every time I was asked the same question — do you have someone with you? But I really, really had to figure out a way, and what I did is I took a notebook with me and took notes and tried to review what I was told, made a punch list and just followed it through. I did actually meet a prostate cancer survivor, and I reached out to a local prostate cancer organization.
And following that, of course, I think the bigger challenge was navigating the dating scene and navigating life after prostate cancer.
Bearse: Yeah, and you had a prostatectomy, which means you had your prostate removed, which can for a lot of men have a lot of side effects which you had mentioned which is incontinence and erectile dysfunction. That really puts a damper, a great difficulty on a of life experiences, I guess, if you will. I imagine that it has a great impact on being able to have full sexual function and satisfaction. How do you sort of reconcile like all right I probably need to regain some of this control or heal some of these side effects before jumping into the dating scene?
Or did you? What were you thinking? Di Gesu: Well, I love the choice of the word damper because I did have both. I had incontinence. I had ED. So, lay that over the potential of going out on dates and meeting women, it really, really hits the confidence level. I was incontinent. So, that certainly was a little bit of a turnoff. And then ED. Certainly, I guess what went through my mind was what do I have to offer a woman? Why would a woman want to be interested in me? It really, really weighs heavily on you when you start jumping into the dating scene. However, I had moved into a renovated mill building in Manchester, New Hampshire right on the Merrimack river.
A very cool place filled with a lot of millennials, a lot of young professionals, a lot of recently divorced people, and a lot of empty nesters in transition. Di Gesu: Yeah. There was an opportunity to kind of start socializing with folks, and I was invited to go to pubs and bars and a of restaurants in Manchester.
I made a couple of good friends, and that started opening up my social life. Not my dating life but my social life. And it gave me a little bit more confidence. And I was still dealing with incontinence. I was still dealing with the ED. Bearse: Yeah, what did you say to him or her that said that we need to get you on one of these dating sites? What was the first reaction? And around the same time, I had a visit with my urologist. And I brought this up. I want to have a relationship. I want to jumpstart dating, but you know, I have these issues.
One of the things that he said to me that stuck with me was look you had cancer. Bearse: Does he also have a psychology degree? And maybe he had had this conversation with someone else at one point or another.
But that stuck with me and helped me get enough nerve up to get on a dating site and start looking for someone, looking for love. At the same time, things started to improve. I graduated from Depends to p. And ED, I was trying a variety of different approaches to kind of getting things working again.
And my urologist had prescribed — we tried Cialis. Viagra seemed to help me. And that gave me a little bit more confidence as well to get out there and start dating. Rachel Rubin. One, remember that, and two, is that many women view intimacy as something much more than time in the bedroom. Did that ever come up in any of your conversations as you were getting back into the dating world? To look at it that way in terms of… because you had said what do I have to offer a woman, and we just joked about the dating profile of men with prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction and all that. At what point did that sort of mind as you were getting ready to jump back into the dating scene, if ever?
I think I was more having a crisis of confidence. I was kind of confident enough to go out on a date and engage with a woman and talk and have dinner and drinks. Where my problem was what happens once you like that person enough to want to be intimate with that person?
So, I was matched up by one of my friends, and it was one of those disaster dates, but it was all a learning experience for me. It was all good because it gave me the confidence to keep pushing ahead and keep trying to meet someone.
The erectile dysfunction was always there. I happen to be now with a very understanding woman who loves me for who I am. Di Gesu: So, I think that if I was to give advice to other guys — just go out there. Just go out there Beautiful lady ready dating Manchester New Hampshire be yourself. When you get to the point of intimacy, maybe have that conversation with that person. Di Gesu: Yeah, no. I went through a rollercoaster of emotional reactions to both incontinence and ED. I mean, as you know, Jamie, after a divorce, you have the same question.
Will there ever be anyone else? Will I find someone else? Do I want to find someone else? The same thing was coming up now but in spades because I had the divorce, and then I had cancer. I think those are just normal reactions whether you have cancer or not. And even though she lives in Virginia, we talked often. And what I found in her that was helpful is that she and I both felt that we were no longer a whole man or a whole woman.
And I think breast cancer survivors have similar reactions and probably cervical cancer or ovarian cancer survivors. And I think by sharing that with someone particularly a woman, it was really good for me. And it was really good for her. Bearse: Yeah, I can relate.
But I remember going through that whole experience for that first couple of years, and you really question your self-worth — Am I a whole person?Beautiful lady ready dating Manchester New Hampshire
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