My prostate cancer journey
My whole life I’d had a weak bladder. So when I started to urinate frequently at night, it didn’t bother me too much. Shortly after my 56th birthday, during my annual check-up (maybe not so annual, as my last visit to the physician was 18 months earlier) he did some tests and found my PSA was high and my prostate was enlarged. His words were, “Here is a big problem.”
In October 2012, my physician referred me to a urologist, who asked for an MRI scan and scheduled a biopsy for November. I was also booked for a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) to remove the section of the prostate blocking urine flow. My daughter was getting married, so we decided to wait until after the wedding before we do the biopsy and operation. My first stage of my treatment was hormone therapy.
When the biopsy results came back, we received the devastating news that I had aggressive prostate cancer. The size of my tumour was stage T2C, meaning the tumour involved both lobes (the left and the right) of the prostate. My Gleason score was 8. Gleason scores range from 2 to 10, the higher the grade, the more aggressive the cancer.
My immediate reaction when I received the news was absolute shock. I was very emotional, with thoughts like ‘how soon am I going to die?’ crossing my mind. I also had an overwhelming fear of the unknown. I decided to trust my specialists advice and started praying.
I was given the option of a radical prostatectomy, which I decided not to do. My urologist, together with my radiation oncologists, decided on the best therapy for me. My prostate cancer therapy was triple therapy that consisted of hormone therapy, brachytherapy and external beam radiation.
A friend who was a member of CANSA (the late CEO of CANSA, who passed away last year after being in remission for 28 years) reached out to me and my wife. She motivated us and, without knowing, brought such a sense of calm over us. She gave us some valuable dietary and lifestyle advice to support us during my treatment. This made us feel more ‘in control’ and that we could change the outcome. I’ll always be extremely grateful for her support during that difficult time.
However, sitting here today, being in remission for three years is a wonderful feeling. I had a lot of support from my family and friends – from diagnosis through to treatment. This made a huge difference. My cancer has taught me to enjoy life to the fullest, work hard and enjoy good holidays! As my son in law says #YOLO (You Only Live Once) – make the best of it.