Zoom call with the grim reaper

Well of course it wasn’t with the grim reaper, death is always reluctant to take calls, but it was with a friend who before too long is booked in for a consultation with the scythe-wielding, black-cloaked spoilsport. I may be pushing the analogy a little far, but you could say the grim reaper was hovering in the background.

An honest conversation with a good friend

My friend, an artist who I’ve known for many years, isn’t sure how long he’s got but isn’t expecting to host a birthday party next year. At 88 he’s in pretty good spirits and has enjoyed a full and vigorous life. Make no mistake though, his departure will leave a big hole in the lives of many. Shakespeare has a line in Anthony and Cleopatra: “Make death proud to take us.” Death should be honoured to take this proud man. Read on.

Proton Beam Therapy: A Survivor’s Story

Proton beam therapy is a hot discussion topic in this community and when I received an interesting note from Vickie about her partner’s proton experience, I knew I wanted to dig in and find out more.

What is proton beam therapy?

In very simple terms proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses targeted beams of high-energy particles. It’s used to combat various forms of cancer particularly in children where cancer is located close to vital organs. The claims made for it are that it’s less likely to damage other organs and produces fewer side effects.

At first glance, it looks like a no-brainer, what could be better than a treatment that whacks the cancer and leaves the healthy organs intact?Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and the jury is out as to how effective proton therapy is at combatting prostate cancer. Read on…

Prostate Cancer: It’s A Walk In The Park

In some circles, there’s a sense that prostate cancer is easily treatable and frankly a bit of a walk in the park. Carl told me: The worst thing I hear when telling people I have prostate cancer is when they say: ‘Yes if you’re going to get cancer that’s the one you would choose’. Despite the many effective treatments and survival rates improving even a cursory glance at the relevant statistics should indicate that prostate cancer, like any form of cancer, goes about its business in a brutal manner.

A time to unite and spread awareness

You may have no interest in cancer, but unfortunately, cancer may have an interest in you. All of which brings us to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This year the theme is to elevate the voices of those who are living with it together with the voices of partners, families, and friends who are along on the no-joy ride. As ever the driver is to encourage men to get tested so doctors can catch the cancer before it spreads. Read on…

Prostate Cancer is Top of the (Medical) Charts

Just this spring, we got the unwelcome news that prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer here in the UK. Men, we are top of the charts, though admittedly on one of the unlovliest hit parades in the world.

I may be clutching at straws, but there is an upside to this because it means many more men are coming forward to get tested and as we know; catch cancer early and your chances of survival look a whole lot better.

Everyone in the UK over 55 is screened for bowel cancer every two years, but there’s no such screening for prostate cancer because detecting it is so problematic. The PSA test just isn’t accurate enough for national screening.

I’m a case in point, when I was diagnosed with a sizable tumor in my prostate with a Gleason score of 4+3=7, my PSA was still only 5.03 which is barely above normal. We need better tests and right now a lot of work is being put into a pre-biopsy MRI scan. Read on…

Reasons to be cheerful

A heartfelt plea was posted on our Facebook page: Are there any cancer success stories or is it all doom and gloom? It’s a tough question but I’m going to find some reasons to be cheerful.The first reason to be cheerful is this website, this community’s Facebook page, and all the other support groups. You’ll read and hear some tough stories, but I take great comfort from the resilience I find in others. I’m going to share some stories in an effort to find light in the darkness.

John’s arms were aching, so he went to the doctor. The medic struggled with a diagnosis and started asking about his family medical history. He mentioned his father was being treated for prostate cancer. The doctor ordered tests that came back positive. John had a successful prostatectomy, but unfortunately, his PSA level started to rise. Twenty radiotherapy sessions later his PSA level is now negligible. Read on…

Preen cancer update 12.8.20

I’ve just got off the phone with my oncologist who came calling with good news. My PSA level remains at 0.03 and has done so now for almost a year meaning I’m still part of the NED Squad. (No Evidence of Disease)

My final hormone therapy jab happens at the end of the month and at that point all treatment ceases. My PSA is then monitored every six months for two years. It may start to rise, and should it reach 0.5 then further treatment will need to be considered.

Obviously, I’m hoping the unwelcome guest gives me a break for a year or so, but you never know. But make no mistake this is good news by any standards. Thanks to you all for being in my corner during this trying time. Now fuck off cancer you irritating little bastard.

The Final Countdown

It’s close on three years since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and in a month my treatment for the ejection of my unwelcome guest should come to a close. What then?

It was in November 2017 when I got the unwelcome news. I’d had blood in my urine, a rectal exam discovered a distended prostate and then came a biopsy telling me there were lots of little unwelcome guests all over my prostate with a particularly ugly slug measuring 10mm. Dr. Gleeson had me at 4+3=7 and my PSA stood at 5.03, but my feeling scared and sorry for myself meter had the needle jammed way over into the red zone.

Sometimes I get nostalgic and miss the old days, but there are some old days I’d rather delete entirely from the memory bank. As most people reading this will know, those early weeks after diagnosis are frankly terrifying, whatever the doctors are telling you, you are telling yourself something infinitely worse. Read on…

Prostate Cancer and PTSD

I have prostate cancer and I’ve had PTSD, but in my case, the two aren’t linked, but they can be. Although my cancer diagnosis petrified me, and I get stats angst every time I have a PSA check I’d never considered that cancer might cause PTSD. My brush with post traumatic stress disorder happened more than twenty years ago, long before I’d heard of radiotherapy, hormone therapy, prostatectomy and the other ugly words associated with our condition.

My brush with post traumatic stress disorder

I was fit and healthy, in my forties, and working for ABC News who had a habit of sending us to places where guns, bombs, and bullets were in plentiful supply. If you worked for American TV, particularly in the 90s, then more than likely you’d be chasing the Marines all over the globe. I did time in Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict, was in Mogadishu when Bush senior sent in the troops and did a stint in DR Congo and Rwanda during the genocide, all places guaranteed to set your nerves on edge. Read on.

With Prostate Cancer, You Need To Think Like A Reporter

With Prostate Cancer, you need to think like a reporter. Being in and around the news business for most of my career it comes naturally for me to ask questions and with prostate cancer, questions are your friends.

I take a degree of comfort in knowing as much about the nature of my cancer, the treatment involved, and the possibility of a cure (always nervous of using that word) or getting to a place where there is no evidence of disease. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power and while knowledge won’t cure your cancer it at least puts you in the driving seat.

Not everyone feels comfortable asking questions of doctors about a subject they probably have little knowledge and there are others who just want to leave decisions and actions in the hands of the medics and not probe too deeply. That’s not how I operate.

Read on.

How Does Your Partner Understand Your Prostate Cancer?

When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer my wife and I sat together when I got the bad news. Even though I kind of knew it was coming, the fact that I had an unwelcomed guest loitering with intent in my prostate was still a shock.

When I got home, I knew I had to tell my 14-year-old daughter the bad news but was at a loss as to how to begin. Finally, I said I had a problem, but it had been caught early and my prospects were good. To which she replied: ‘Well at least it’s not cancer’. This wasn’t going well.

Read on: https://prostatecancer.net/living/partner-understanding/