Altitude Sports host and must-follow tweeter Vic Lombardi is known for speaking his mind. But he sets a new honesty standard for himself and humanity as a whole when, during this interview, he casually confesses, "Right now, as I'm talking to you, I have the urge to pee my pants."
The reason behind this need for relief has nothing to do with downing too many brews in too short a period of time. One month ago today, on February 27, Lombardi underwent surgery for prostate cancer — a private matter that he chose to share publicly as a way of raising awareness about the disease in general, as well as to encourage men to be tested for the malady before they reach senior status, since it can strike younger dudes, too (Lombardi is 49).
But post-hospitalization, he has taken his truth-telling to a new level. He's created a video that he describes as a "cancer diary" that goes into detail about his experiences, down to frankly discussing the incontinence that patients routinely deal with after such a procedure.
The video is accessible below, and as you can see, the lead image is a pair of Huggies.
Lombardi's operation appears to have been successful, though he notes that "there's no such thing as curable with the aggressive kind of cancer I had. I know that term 'cured' is thrown around a lot. But even if everything comes back at zero on my next test, I'm still in the high-risk group for having a recurrence."
Not that he's letting this prospect stop him from living his life. He was supposed to be out of commission until about now, but he was back on 92.5 FM Altitude Sports Radio only a couple of weeks or so after his release. This was possible because he has a broadcasting setup in his home. "I couldn't do it from the studio at that point," he reveals. "I wasn't secure enough yet."
Then, on Sunday, March 24, he made his first appearance on Altitude TV since the surgery, working pre-game and post-game coverage for the Denver Nuggets' blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers, and he was courtside last night for a nail-biting Nugs win over the Detroit Pistons. Thus far, fatigue hasn't been a problem. In his words, "Outside of the constant urge to urinate, it's great."
In the interim, Lombardi documented each step in the process he underwent after making an unexpected discovery.
"Because people knew about my case, I heard from at least thirty guys who went through this, and I was so blessed that they gave me such an education," he allows. "But I also went on the Internet before the surgery and found out that nobody had really done a how-to or a what-to-expect video. So I decided to do it."
Using his iPhone, he continues, "I recorded everything: walking into the hospital, waiting for the doctors and nurses to come get you, going under, waking up, walking that night for the first time afterward, all the injections of the pain medications and antibiotics you're supposed to take, convalescence, dealing with a catheter. I showed everything, because I wanted guys to understand everything that goes into this — the good and the bad."
Here's the clip:
When it came to the video, only one thing was off the table: censorship.
"If you're not truthful, you're doing other guys a disservice," Lombardi emphasizes. "And I can't tell you how liberating this has been for me. I didn't have much of a filter before, but after the surgery, I have no filter at all. None. I don't care if I talk about incontinence. I don't care that people know I have to wear a diaper at times because I might start peeing. And I might."
A prime example: "In the video, I turn the camera on in the middle of the night, after I peed myself for the umpteenth time. I stared into the camera and talked about how humbling it is and wondering if I'm ever going to be the same again and how emasculating it is. And then you move on to the next day."
Since the surgery, he acknowledges, "I've experienced a little of everything on the human-emotion spectrum, from utter despair and frustration to hope, promise and pride. It depends on the day and it depends on who you talk to and how you wake up in the morning. And really, the surgery was a breeze. The surgery was nothing compared to the anxiety that comes along with it."
Over the past few weeks, Lombardi has lost twelve pounds — and as he acknowledges, "I was skinny to begin with." He's also finding it harder to stay up watching games until midnight: "I'm out like a light at ten o'clock. I'm finding I need more sleep." But the incontinence has been the biggest challenge.
"They kept talking about it beforehand, and I didn't think it was such a big deal," he admits. "I just thought, 'Get the cancer. Get it out of my system.' But the prostate is basically the plug that holds everything in, and you have to retrain your body to do it. That's what I'm doing now."
Some men who've undergone prostate cancer surgery "are good after a month," he reports. "I feel like I'm going in that direction, because it's getting better. But some guys I speak with say they're still having problems with this a year or a year and a half later. It's about the human body, and everyone's different."
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Messages like these are embedded in the video, which has inspired a series of forthcoming sequels.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the owner of Altitude TV and radio (and namesake of gajillionaire Stan Kroenke, whose portfolio also includes the Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche), "is going to do a TV and radio education campaign that's going to debut next week," Lombardi divulges. "I'm going to do all kinds of things, including podcasts with doctors, nurses, survivors. We're in the process of unveiling all of this stuff, and hopefully it will convince guys in their forties to get tested even if they're feeling healthy."
Moments of normalcy are increasing steadily for Lombardi. "I went for a jog on Monday. I finally got the green light to do that. And in terms of daily events, it's the same old feisty me. I still get upset over stupid, irrational things, like games. But that's a good thing, because that takes you away from the dark places."
In the meantime, going through prostate cancer "has changed my life," Lombardi says. "I can't tell you the perspective it's given me. I was always pretty selfish: career-minded, mainly worried about myself and my family. I did a poor job of extending myself beyond my circle. But now I take great joy in educating those who don't know anything about this disease."