I recently read a very interesting post by Trisha Torrey on About.com about a happening on the TV show, Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey is a PBS (in the United States) TV show that originates from the UK. Briefly, the show is about the British aristocracy and their help, not dissimilar to the other famous show of similar roots, “Up stairs, Down Stairs. “However, Downton Abbey takes place in the early 20th century.

In the most recent episode a 24-year-old character from the aristocracy, named Sybil gave birth to her first child and then died. So, why am I talking about a TV show especially about childbirth on a blog about advanced prostate cancer? Good question let me answer it.

It turns out that Sybil’s death could probably have been avoided but for the fact that this aristocratic family was more concerned about public appearances than with calling in a doctor with experience in child birth. It seems that Sybil had always been tended to by a simple country doctor (not very aristocratic) who had properly diagnosed her as experiencing preclampsia and urged she immediately go to the hospital. However, her father, Lord Granthem, wanted to appear more important and insisted that they bring in a better known and more expensive doctor who was more appropriate for their station in life. Lord Granthem, despite the opinions of the others, including Sybils mother and husband, decision stood and the upper class doctor, Dr. Clarkson assisted in the birth and poor Sybil died of preclampsia.

So again, why am I discussing this matter, a TV show and childbirth, what does it have to do with advanced prostate cancer? It has everything to do with advanced prostate cancer!

Despite their gut, which told them Sybil, belonged in a hospital as recommended by the country doctor her family allowed themselves to bullied by Lord Granthem. They ignored their gut and poor Sybil died. Had they followed their gut Sybil might have survived and been allowed to become a mother to her baby.

Empowered patients follow their gut and don’t allow things like money or appearance to dictate their medical care. Then, if you are not sure always error on the side of caution. In this case caution meant seeking help, going to the hospital, if you have the slightest doubt. Better to trust your gut and be overly cautious then be dead! Don’t ever let others dictate against your feelings, not even your doctor. Don’t forget, when you leave your doctors office they go on to the next patient, you go home with the problem. The problem can kill you.

When I was first diagnosed with Melanoma I showed the mole I was concerned about to my dermatologist who made light of it, telling me it was nothing. I got back into my car and I really believe that the mole was “laughing” at me. I believe that I heard it making fun of me and telling me that it had won. I made another appointment with a different dermatologist who after checking out the mole told me that I should just forget about it, it was nothing. At this point I told the doctor that my gut was different and that I wanted a biopsy. She refused, so I made it clear that I was not going to leave the exam room until a biopsy was performed or the police led me out in handcuffs. Needless to say, the biopsy was performed and I was diagnosed with Melanoma. Had I not followed my gut I do believe my fate would be the same as was Sybil’s, I would be dead.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.