By: Ed Creamer
I get asked all sorts of questions in the classroom by high school students about Vietnam. Most often asked, “did you kill anyone?”. I normally give my version of, “there I was at 30,000 feet in a helicopter with guns a blazing,” story. Actually, I do own up to doing in a few mosquitoes. But, only those that got under my mosquito netting.
Second most often asked is, “did you bring anything back from Nam?”. I did. It seems a lot of us brought something back called delayed prostate cancer resulting from a defoliant we used on the jungles called “Agent Orange”. But, before you feel sorry for me, let me tell you what a former Vietnam Vet, Glen Woods, told people about his prostate cancer. “I’m alive, working and still at it. However, I can guard your harem for you.” Like most, I had a radical and they removed the prostate.
Look, it’s not easy having a doctor tell you they must take something out of your body you’ve spent a lifetime getting accustomed to having. To demonstrate, he draws a line from my navel down to……… let’s just say I never was too fond of people getting near my privates with sharp pointed objects.
After the surgery I marched down to the VA to file a service connected disability claim. Answered 4276 questions, had my picture taken, showed them my DD-214 and went home and waited,,,, for 19 months. Not knowing the fun and games they had in store for me.
Sent me to four doctors to verify I no longer had a prostate. Now, you would have thought one of those fine educated men could have read the surgeons report which said he’d taken it out. They didn’t. I think they thought I might have gone to a used body parts store and had it reinstalled. Anyway, we played the ole “Bend Over and Spread em” game. Surprise! Each found I no longer had a prostate. Four of them doctors mind you. All gone!
When they discovered that long scar I had wasn’t a fancy tattoo, they verified my claim. Even approved my claim for diabetes which was caused by the same defoliant. Regardless, many of us returned to face this battle in our futures. Some found out too late. Others, like myself, now take a PSA test twice a year since the cancer can rematerialize in other forms. Like Glen said, we’re, “still at it”. Not quite ready to lie down and quit just yet. But, to be perfectly honest, I still wouldn’t trust Glen in my harem. That is, if my wife would let me have one.
NOTE: Glen passed away from cancer in March, 2005.