Professor writes monologue on prostate cancer

By By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

Men aren’t always the best when it comes to opening up, expressing their feelings or discussing the hurdles in their lives.

Jeff Metcalf, a professor in the English department, doesn’t have a problem opening up about his experience with prostate cancer. Metcalf kept daily journals as he battled the disease from diagnosis to beating the cancer., and has created a vivid one-man monologue from those journals.

After a general physical examination, Metcalf learned he was at a high risk of having prostate cancer. Metcalf decided to stay silent, not telling his wife or best friends from the beginning. Instead, Metcalf turned to writing journals as he learned about the disease.

“I kept it silent and I went to interesting places,” Metcalf said. “Dark places, places of light…and I thought, ‘The way I can deal with this is by bringing light into my journals.'”

From his descriptions of the surgical process to battling the cancer through the use of female hormones and radiation treatments, Metcalf found humor to tell his story of overcoming cancer.

After hearing Metcalf perform his monologue at the Salt Lake City Library in April 2005, Mike Dorrell, dramaturge for Salt Lake Acting Company, commissioned Metcalf to write a play.

“We’re behind the times with cancer,” Dorrell said. “This piece serves a purpose — Jeff is a brave man to reveal so much about himself.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2007. The ACS estimates that 27,050 of those men will die from the disease. Prostate cancer is the second deadliest type of cancer for men, after lung cancer.

According to the ACS, more than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Approximately one out of every two American men and one out of every three American women will have cancer during their lifetime.

“You either know someone who has cancer or you have it yourself,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf has become somewhat of a local spokesman on the importance of early screening and how to deal with cancer diagnosis.

“I’m proud of (Jeff) for being so up front, but it leaves you feeling exposed as well,” said Alana Metcalf, Jeff’s wife. “But that’s a good thing because it creates dialogue, especially among men who typically remain silent.”

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