Magnus Berg. Photo: Jose Lagunas Vargas
Last fall, Magnus Berg learned he had aggressive prostate cancer. Unlike his father, he decided to be completely open about the disease and how it affected him. In a series of articles in VGRfokus, he talks about cancer from different aspects. Part One: Getting the word out.
//Aggressive Prostate Cancer, Part 1: The Message//
Magnus Berg lives in the center of Haga in Gothenburg, enjoying views of the cobblestones, cafes and tourists. Until a few years ago, he worked at the University of Gothenburg, where he was a lecturer in ethnology. Today he is retired and spends time with his grandchildren, writing and recording children's songs with a friend, and cheering on IFK Norrköping.
Last fall, he learned he had aggressive prostate cancer.
My father died of prostate cancer in 2000, and I was always at risk of developing it myself. It is also a form of mental preparation. Magnus Berg says this did not come out of the blue, but was more of a “yes”.
His father's cancer had spread widely throughout his body.
-He had a lot of anxiety, and was terrified. Ironically, it worked out fairly well for me. I've been thinking that if this happens, I need to find some way to avoid panicking. I don't want to be a victim of the same fear.
The message is in several steps
For Magnus Berg, the news came in different stages: First, his PSA went up between two annual checkups at the health centre. One of the doctors said it needed to be checked, but not to worry, there might be nothing.
Magnus Berg had to have a biopsy and was told there were some things that looked a bit suspicious, but “it doesn't have to be anything”.
– After that, I was out and about on the train with my wife for 17 days, and after that I didn't think about it at all. The wait wasn't hectic, we had a good time.
Once he returned home, he was called to the hospital for information.
The doctor said: You have the right hemisphere. “What's your babysitter? Do I have cancer?” I asked, and he replied, “Yes, that's why we're here.”
“The group has a life of its own.”
After the announcement, Magnus Berg left Sahlgrenska for Änggårdsbergen. He started walking and thinking about how he felt.
– I did not feel terrified or panicked, but rather I felt sad. I was angry that I didn't know what was going on inside me, that the things in my body were living their own lives without talking to me. I don't know, it creates a feeling of disappointment.
It was nice and nice in Änggårdsbergen. Magnus Berg called his wife, in a short and matter-of-fact conversation in which he mostly told how things were. Then he called a friend of his, who was also suffering from some physical problems, and a conversation took place between them that fluctuated between the usual banter between them and greater seriousness.
Before that, Magnus Berg also had time to send text messages to his sons, and when he finished speaking, one of them called.
– Then it suddenly broke. It was something that came completely unprepared, from within the body. I remember trying to control myself properly, not waving it around. I didn't want to throw it at him, it was all a shock to him too. You might be wondering why I had that reaction, but there was something about seeing his name on the screen that was disorienting.
Important with support from others
Magnus Berg is usually someone who thrives on his own, and usually goes through things without the support of others. But in this new situation, he realized that he was lucky to have family around him. After walking in Änggårdsbergen, he returned home to his wife.
– Coming home was very powerful too, as we talked about how much we meant to each other, touched each other, lay in bed for a very long time, cried rounds, and tried to make sense of it somehow. It's good to have a wife you love. You guessed it: think about those who don't have it.
For Magnus Berg, his wife was someone he talked to, someone who was as involved as he was in all the meetings and announcements, someone who helped him physically now after the operation.
“She put on support stockings, helped me stand, fixed the catheter… There is a deep compassion moving in these actions,” says Magnus Berg.
– It took me a while to understand that this affected her deeply. She wanted to attend meetings and exams, “Why would you want to sit in the waiting room?” She wondered, but then realized that there was a lot at stake when it came to her future.
That he did not understand the matter until after a while is an expression of the self-preoccupation that Magnus Berg believes affected him after the announcement of the illness. He had difficulty thinking outside of himself and his experiences.
– I was offered to speak to a counsellor, but I was busy trying to figure things out. Instead, I started writing about it on Facebook, which was important to me. It is a form of therapy that has worked very well for me. To find your own words, and to be the person shaping the story of this yourself – not in a conversation with someone else.
Linking illness with shame
His father did not tell much about his illness, which made the rest of the family associate the illness with a kind of shame. There was a fear of talking about it.
– The mother and father told the story, but all the time it was a little twisted. Especially when it came to anxiety, my mom didn't say much about it. I don't know if they want to save me and my sister, but I don't want it that way. This is my way of dealing with it, not everyone wants it and I completely respect that, the important thing is to find your own way, says Magnus Berg.
On Facebook, he received a lot of attention, many “hearts” and received a lot of messages.
– Above all, it was men who had prostate cancer who contacted me, some of whom I barely knew outside of Facebook. But also people I know who I didn't know who had prostate cancer, who speak in depth. In addition, there are many people who know someone with prostate cancer, reach out to them and encourage them.
Then he adds with a little black humor:
– As for those who died of prostate cancer, they did not receive any response.
Right now, Magnus Berg is walking and waiting for another message. On Monday, he will find out whether the operation was successful: is he cancer-free or not?
Text: Ellen Widfeldt
Photos: Jose Lagunas Vargas
In the coming parts, you will read about how Magnus Berg experienced care and how he sees the future.
Prostate cancer It is the most common form of cancer in Sweden. on 1177.se There is information about, among other things, what prostate cancer is, about PSA tests and how to seek care if you suspect you have prostate cancer.
Read also: A new meeting place in Gothenburg for cancer patients and their relatives
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