I would like to share my story of my recent journey with prostate cancer, and
subsequent involvement with the charity PCaSO (Prostate Cancer Support Organisation).
At the time of discovering my condition, I was a 60 year old married man, working for local government, and a singer/songwriter playing in my band, Paradise 9.
My first indication that I might have this cancer was in June 2022. I was having blood tests for the usual things someone my age might have, ie cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and also low testosterone and, as I had got to 60 last year, my doctor suggested that a PSA test should be included.
To be honest, I had no idea what a PSA blood test was for. I didn’t ask at the time.
The result came back and showed that I had a raised PSA level of 5.95, and my doctor advised that this may be an indication of prostate cancer. I was referred to a urologist, who organised an MRI scan, which I had at the Royal Sussex County Hospital on 14th July 2022.
On 24th August, I received the result from the urologist, who confirmed that I had a 12mm lesion at the bottom right side of my prostate, and that I would now need a biopsy to determine how aggressive the tumour was, so as to ascertain the best treatment I should have. I had the biopsy on 6th September at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath. I returned there two weeks later, with Kathy, my wife, and spoke to another consultant, who confirmed I had T3a localised advanced prostate cancer, with a Gleason score of 7 (broken down as 3 + 4).
He explained that there were various stages the cancers were gauged against::-
He advised that, as my cancer was spreading and now moving out of my prostate capsule, there was a chance of it spreading to my bones and lymph nodes and, as such, I should consider either radiotherapy or having surgery to remove the prostate and offending cancer.
Now this was a total shock, as I had no symptoms that I could think of that might suggest anything at all. One of the symptoms though, was described as fatigue and the need to pee more. As a 60 year old bloke, I just took that as normal for a 60 year bloke!
Anyhow, I was advised of the pros and cons of both treatments, and that I would get consultations from experts who conducted both procedures in due course.
I was now also put in touch with the wonderful Macmillan Cancer Support, and they sent me a lot of literature about the disease, options, likely after-effects and such.
So, on 17th November, I spoke to the radiotherapy consultant, who advised me that he thought that he could successfully treat the tumour by radiotherapy. The procedure would involve a few months receiving hormone treatment, followed by four weeks of daily doses of radiotherapy, which would then be followed by up to 18 months of further hormone treatment.
On 22nd November, I met the prostatectomy (trying saying that after a few jars!) consultant, who told me about the surgery route and also advised he was confident that an operation would be successful. He confirmed that the operation was now robot-assisted, involving keyhole surgery, and was now a very accurate procedure.
At this point, my friend Roy suggested I contact a friend of his, Clive, as he was going through the same thing, and having radiotherapy. On contacting Clive, he advised me of his condition, and why he opted for the radiotherapy route.
He also signposted me to the PCaSO group (Prostate Cancer Support Organisation), who I duly called.
I became a member of this group, and my first contact was Chris, and he kindly met me for coffee in Brighton. Chris had gone through the surgery route six years back, and so explained to me the procedure, the likely side-effects, the importance of getting as fit as possible and the importance of doing certain exercises before, and then after, the operation.
Later, I spoke to Brian, the chairman of the charity, who advised me of his experiences with the radiotherapy route. I also checked out the various experiences from other members of PCaSO on their website.
I also got advice from the Macmillan nurses, Danny, Paul and Anna, my specialist nurses at Eastbourne Gabby and Nicky, and friends who also have had prostate cancer, who shared their experiences.
I found talking to other guys who had gone through their own journeys and hearing of their experiences immeasurably helpful. Up to this point I had to assimilate a great deal of information, and talking to Chris, Clive, Brian, my school friend Derek, the consultants and nurses was so helpful in helping me make my decision on which treatment to go for.
So, in late December, I had made my decision. In my case, surgery to remove the prostate would be my preferred option. My main reason for this decision was that, given that my tumour had started to break out of my prostate capsule, there would be a good chance that all the cancer would be removed, as there was a good success rate with radical prostatectomy, or robot-assisted radical surgery. Also, the robot-assisted surgery was overall a lot quicker procedure from start to finish. Remember, everyone is different, with their cancers at different stages and priorities.
I had the surgery on 12th January 2023, at Eastbourne District General Hospital. Following this, I had a number of weeks off, then a phased return to work, and by July 2023 was back at work full-time.
After three months, I saw the consultant, who advised me that my PSA level was undetectable, and this was followed up in July 2023, when again my PSA level was undetectable. The consultant advised he thought that all the offending cancer had been removed, and the operation a success! To say how relieved Kathy and I was would be an understatement, and we celebrated with a good curry and bottle of vino that night!
I am very thankful to all who have been helping me through this journey – my GP; my surgeon; the consultants; my clinical nurses and the fabulous NHS at Eastbourne District General Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital at Haywards Heath; Macmillan Cancer Support; the members of PCaSO; my family, friends, my band mates and work colleagues and, of course, the support from my dear wife Kathy. Don’t forget our partners go through their own journey with this stuff.
So, do yourselves a favour guys. If you’re 40 years +, go to your GP and ask for a PSA blood test, or check out the PCaSO events page to see if there’s a blood testing event near you coming up.