In 2013 when I retired at 60, I decided I would have a “Wellman check” every year at my local Droitwich medical centre. Everything was fine at first, but at no time was a PSA test or the prostate gland mentioned.
In 2016 two friends who were fellow golf club members were diagnosed with prostate cancer, so, on my next visit, I asked if I could have a PSA test. The doctor asked me several questions to see if I had any symptoms. All my answers were negative. “Oh, no, you’re fine, nothing to worry about.”
12 months later I mentioned it again. Lady doctor this time. Same questions, same answers from me. She said that the PSA value was not an exact science. You can get false positives, so if it was high and I went through a biopsy on the gland, I may go through some terrible pain unnecessarily. Anyway, at the time as I had no symptoms, I agreed to leave it.
Fortunately, however, in 2018, with still no symptoms – and that’s the important point to remember – another lady doctor I had for my ‘Wellman check’ was passionate about the health of middle-aged men, including those without a family history of PC and without symptoms. She arranged for me to be tested. I was quite shocked when she rang me 2 days later to tell me my PSA value was 33. At the time, they expected it to be no higher than 4.
First there was an internal examination, followed by an MRI scan, and the biopsy on the prostate gland that I mentioned earlier. Later on, I also had a bone scan, which confirmed the cancer had not spread.
I then got called in to see my consultant, so I knew something wasn’t right. At this point my wife obviously wanted to accompany me. I’m so glad she did, because when they mentioned the ‘C’ word, I didn’t really take in anything about the treatment procedure. My wife was a Head Teacher, organisation is her middle name. She has been fantastic and organised everything during those really difficult months, such as dates, times of appointments and medication. I didn’t know about the support group at this time.
I couldn’t have the prostate removed, which in a funny way made it easier for me, because I didn’t have to make the difficult decision between a tricky prostate removal operation with potential complications, or the chemotherapy / radiotherapy line that I took. That is purely a decision that I assume some people reading this article have had to take already.
I had 6 rounds of chemo in the Oncology department at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital which was basically 1 hour every 3 weeks. Hair thinned, and I wore a cap for a few months, but I didn’t lose my hair completely and it soon thickened up. I wasn’t continuously tired, as I thought I might be, and wasn’t sick thanks to the anti-sickness tablets. Following this, I had a PET / CT scan, and for me this was totally successful, but I did go through a month of radiotherapy as well. 20 continuous days (excluding weekends). None of these procedures was painful for me. Anyway, if they had been, what was the alternative? We all want to live as long as we can, don’t we?
Again, the radiotherapy was successful, and during all the treatment and the hormone implant injections, my PSA value continued to drop. I continue to have the quarterly implant injection and my current PSA value, which is checked every 3 months, is now less than 0.01 and has been for over two years. Keeping active is so important, and I do this by playing regular golf, and I feel very lucky to still enjoy life with my family
I joined KWPCSG in January this year and have encouraged many friends and colleagues to get tested, even though they may have no symptoms. Some have listened, some have not, but I’ll keep on trying. Plenty of bunkers and water hazards (!) on the early holes, but still hoping to go round in par.