It was a terrible shock to be told I had cancer. I guess it is for anybody. My wife Gloria and I went through a great deal of anguish. I only wish that I had known then what I know now, which is that in my case, things were not as bad as they seemed.
I was told that my cancer was relatively localized. Scans showed that it had not spread beyond the prostate. This meant that I had three choices as regards effective treatment.
The first choice on offer was a radical prostatectomy. This involved removing the prostate gland surgically and re-attaching the plumbing (urethra) through which the urine passes out of the system. This is apparently a favoured option for men with more advanced stages of the disease than mine. It is very effective, but has more side effects and potentially continence problems.
The second choice I had available was external radiotherapy. I was told that i would need to attend the hospital five days a week for seven weeks for a daily dose of X-rays and would have to spend an hour there each time. There are side effects such as urinary and bowel issues and tiredness. Sometimes this treatment is preceded by hormone therapy, though I was told this would not be needed in my case.
The third option offered was brachytherapy, which involves planting radioactive iodine pellets in titanium “seeds” inside the prostate gland using titanium needles. This required two in-hospital stays, the first for a “volume study” which measures you up, and the second to actually implant the seeds. The radioactivity as the Iodine 125 decays is what kills the cancer cells. Again there are potential side effects such as difficulty in passing urine, and those associated with any radiotherapy.
I was required to see three different consultants / doctors, each of whom went through the treatment in which he specialised. This was rather daunting to face up to, but what I did draw quite quickly from my appointments was that they mentioned the word “cure”, or at least a chance of one. As I have said, if I had understood at the outset what I learned over the next few weeks I might have worried less.
After I had seen the three, I had gathered that each of the treatments had the same excellent chance of making me all better. Therefore, since the brachytherapy seemed the least disruptive to my life (as I thought) I chose that option. If it had been seen as possibly less successful I would have made a different choice, but I opted for the one which involved the two fairly brief stays in hospital.
I will tell you next time how the hospital operations or “procedures” went.