I had a check-up earlier this month post my encounter with prostate cancer three-and-a-half years ago. I am doing well, and my PSA is 0.026, so hardly there at all. So, I will be reviewed again in a year’s time.
I count myself lucky with the early diagnosis and prompt treatment following a referral by my diligent GP.
This year I am once again growing a moustache for Movember and of course hope for some sponsorship to help raise awareness about neglected areas of men’s health. Take care out there, guys.
As many of you know, I am growing a moustache in November, sponsored for charity, after my brush with prostate cancer this year. I meant to do it last year before I even knew I had the disease, but other difficult family events got in the way.
As you can read here, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and is the second largest cause of male cancer deaths in UK. Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer and over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
One in eight men in the UK will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime
The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 70 and 74 years
More than 100 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day
As for the moustache, after three days there is not much to show. There is some very light coloured stubble. I hope it is a return to my blond phase as i had very fair hair as a young chap. However it is more likely going to be grey interspersed with darker colours or ginger.
It is a slow process. Maybe I should massage Growmore into my top lip.
We will see. Oh, the excitement!
I would very much appreciate your support in raising some money to increase awareness of prostate cancer and help improve men’s health. My Movember page is here : mobro.co/jonstow
So many of us are reluctant to trouble the doctor with what we may think of as minor ailments which we think we are bound to get as we get older.
I am pleased to say that I am fairly well after treatment for prostate cancer and (touch wood) that should be the end of it. However the fact that I had cancer in the early stages would not have been picked up if I had avoided going to the doctor. I had thought of several excuses not to go before I finally came down on the side of thinking there would be no harm in seeing my general practitioner.
If you are interested, I am joining the Movember campaign to improve men’s health worldwide by getting them to take notice. I am committed to growing a moustache for the thirty days of November. It will my first ever moustache and I did not even have one when I had the bushy curly almost Art Garfunkel hair in the Seventies. Oh that I had some of that hair now!
Here is my Movember page. Please forgive the all upper-case motivation section. That is the website format, and I did not mean to shout. If you feel able to help I will be grateful, but if not (because there are so many “good causes”), then that is OK too.
The gap between my hospital stays was not the best of times. On the day after I came out from my first admission Gloria and I had to register her Mum’s death and make the funeral arrangements. It was a very sad time. There were other unpleasant incidents in that intervening period over Easter.
My second admission to hospital was two weeks after the first, and before the funeral. This was for the actual brachtherapy procedure / operation. This time I had a private room in the hospital as with the seed implants I was going to be somewhat radioactive.
Again I went in in the early evening and this time was fed. I had a reasonable night’s sleep despite knowing I was facing another enema, but at least had a private loo.
In the morning I was visited by the anaesthetist and the surgeon and a nurse told me i was second on the list. I was taken down at about nine-thirty. Again I woke up well in the recovery room, was taken back to the ward and fed. I have to say that the hospital food was generally good except that I would not recommend their fish and chips – very soggy.
I had no pain, but of course the waterworks were not working very well, and what I did produce had to be checked in case any stray radioactive seeds had leaked out. I also had to demonstrate that I could at least pee a certain amount, which the staff monitored. I must have passed this test because I was told I could go home that evening if I wanted to. I was not all that confident and felt woozy, so I went for a walk up and down the ward without feeling too faint. Having awarded myself a pass on that test, I said i would go home, and called Gloria to collect me. I think we are all happier in our own beds and we needed each other’s company.
Just before I went, I had a word with a fellow patient, Ian, who had been with me having the same thing done on both stays. He had decided not to go home, but then he had been much further down the list, was back from theatre rather later and had less recovery time.
I had not very much pain from having all those needles stuck in my underneath, but I was very swollen so left with a large supply of anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling. I also had proton-pump inhibitor tablets to counter the adverse effect anti-inflammatories have on one’s stomach.
Throughout both my admissions the nursing staff were very courteous, attentive and caring. I cannot say I enjoyed myself but everyone made sure I was as happy as I could be.
I guess I was as guilty as many others in taking my health for granted. I had a couple of pills to take daily for what I always thought of as minor irritations, though one had been a major irritation when my blood pressure was so high way back. Towards the end of last year we had rather a lot of personal pressure. Of course the issue was not about us (my wife Gloria and I) but about the illness of her sister; what turned out to be her last illness because we lost her before Christmas.
I was feeling pretty rough and I guess it was the stress of everything (nothing to compare with Gloria’s) but I did go to our GP. She ordered the usual blood tests. It turned our my PSAwas higher than a year previously; only slightly raised but enough for my doctor to refer me to a consultant. She said that at my level there was only a one-in-three chance I had prostate cancer.
To tell the truth, there was so much going on in our lives that although I collected my GP’s letter for the consultant before Christmas I did not make the appointment to see him, a urologist, until the end of January. Of course I had a lot of work on in January too, and I was by then feeling a lot better.
When I did finally go, the consultant thought I should have an MRI scan. I went along with this of course, and even when he told me there was “inflammation” of my prostate gland I still thought I might have an infection rather than cancer.
A biopsy was suggested. When Gloria and I went for the result it was a total shock for both of us when I was told I did have cancer. We never think it will happen to us. Gloria and I didn’t take in much of the rest of the consultation. I was feeling numb.
I expect we were told that we were not looking at a complete disaster, but we missed that, being rather stunned. We did recover at the end to hear that we would be scheduled to see several different doctors to hear what options I had in terms of treatment.
There will be a lot more to tell as I bring you up to date.
I may even be lucky. I am feeling much better about myself and my health, but if you are a guy of fifty-plus I think you owe it to yourself to get yourself checked out with a blood test. Then you can make an informed decision as to whether to take further medical advice if your PSA is a bit out-of-line.