My prostate cancer diagnosis came almost by accident. I was in my local town in April 2010 and saw a mobile health screening unit* was visiting and as I had some time, went on board to have a once over. I felt fine and didn’t have any symptoms or anything so it was purely precautionary.
The nurse took some bloods which the nurse wasn’t quite happy with so I was referred to my GP for a PSA test. My GP then asked me to go to the Mater for a digital exam which I did. The doctor I saw also wanted me to have a biopsy done so I just did everything that I was asked to do that day and went home. I did tell my son and daughter what was happening but I suppose I was keen to keep everything in perspective and not worry unless I was actually told something was wrong.
I went back for the results a little while later with my daughter and the consultant said the words no one ever really thinks they will hear…. “You have prostate cancer” but he followed that by saying “It’s very early stage and it’s very treatable” so once I heard that I wanted to know what treatments were available to me. I was told that I could have radiotherapy or I could go down the surgery route. My immediate thought was ‘Out with it’; I wanted the surgery. The consultant did explain the procedure and the possible side effects of going for the surgery option to me in detail and I was still happy to go ahead, my mind was made up.
I guess it took a few days for the diagnosis to sink in but I really tried not to dwell on it. I kept reminding myself of the consultant’s words “It’s very early stage and it’s very treatable” and it was reassuring to know that it had been picked up and I was already on track to get my treatment started.
I went for a pre-op exam in August and all went well so I then got a call from the Mater to book me in for the actual surgery in September. Again, the surgeon explained the procedure to me and I was happy to go ahead with everything. The surgery was a success and my son and daughter were waiting for me when I came round. Later that night the surgeon came back to check on me and he reassured me that everything was looking good. I can only remember one day during my recovery when I felt really unwell but it only lasted a couple of hours and then it lifted. I was there for 5 or 6 days in total and the care I got was fantastic.
I was advised to keep active following my surgery and I really took that advice on board to try to let life get back to normal. I’m back to doing all the things I loved before my diagnosis, if anything I am more active now than I was before. I do genuinely appreciate this second shot at life and when I wake up every day I hop out of bed and do whatever I feel like doing.
Having survived prostate cancer, I would say to any man who is in the risk age group for the disease to be vigilant and if you think something is wrong, go to your GP. If it turns out that there is something wrong it is so important to get treatment early and if everything is fine, getting the ‘all clear’ will give you peace of mind.
For anyone who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer I would encourage them to stay positive and whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself by thinking about cancer 24 hours a day. Try to talk to your friends and family if you can but please don’t suffer in silence. I would also suggest that taking up a hobby or finding a new interest after your treatment is a good idea as it can help to move your focus from cancer to something new. There can be a very happy and fulfilling life after cancer; I’m living proof of that.
*please note this was not one of the foundation’s mobile information units, we do not provide a screening service.