Dennis Bogorad: Finding Support
Dennis Bogorad, a dear friend of BCC has published his first blog in the Huffington Post yesterday. The blog frames Denis’ personal story dealing with prostate cancer, and the lack of testing and role models in the LGBT Community.
I met my partner, Ron, in Detroit in 1973. We lived together, moved across the country and shared everything, including a simultaneous double diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2003.
Meeting just a few years after Stonewall, we did not feel safe sharing our secret relationship with anyone. We daily feared being caught. Five years later, we moved to Los Angeles where we could live a more open life, but still we shied away from gay causes or politics. By nature, we were the kind of people who relied exclusively on each other. Only after we were overwhelmed from our mutual struggle with cancer did I turn to the gay community for support. I then searched for gay role models with cancer and for support groups. I found neither.
Ron and I were diagnosed at the same time but the course of treatment for our prostate cancers was radically different. I had my prostate removed and needed no follow up treatment.
However, Ron’s cancer was far more aggressive and his treatment options did not include surgery. He endured chemical castration, testosterone deprivation, and 45 rounds of Taxotere, a chemotherapy drug that is also used for breast cancer treatment. My life partner of 33 years, Ron Winokur, died in 2006. He was 58 years old; I was 56. I looked for prostate cancer support groups for gay men while Ron was still alive, then for support groups for gay men who had lost their partners. There were none. I felt alone.
I was reminded of my loss when I recently learned that Huell Howser, California’s TV version of Will Rogers and a gay man, died of prostate cancer. He was a great story teller and I wish he had taken the opportunity to tell this last story before he passed. There is a growing list of public figures who presented themselves as role models when they were diagnosed with prostate cancer. This list includes Senator Bob Dole, Robert De Niro, Warren Buffet, General Colin Powell, and California’s Governor Brown, to name a few.