I’m a Londoner who now lives in deepest suburbia.
I worked for a living and I paid my taxes all my life, the last 20 years I spent on the Railway. I’d still be there now if it was up to me, but I now contribute in other ways. Before joining the Railway I was a Licensed Taxi Driver in London – one of the traditional London black cabs – and I did “The Knowledge of London” to get my licence.
As far as my cancer is concerned I can’t emphasise too much that we are all different. What you’re about to read is what happened to me. It is not necessarily going to be what would happen to any other man affected by prostate cancer.
If I’d known in 2008 (when I was 53) that a sudden change in my sexual function might have been the first sign that I was developing prostate cancer I would have started writing a blog at that time (did blogs exist then?), but I didn’t know. Nor did I realise 3 years later when I actually started getting ill and feeling ill. If only I had. If only all those clever doctors had.
To give credit where it’s due my GP (family doctor) had sent me for a PSA blood test in 2008, which came back as normal. He sent me again in 2012. Twice! The first result was higher than it should have been so I was sent for a second test 2 months later. I was told that’s the routine with PSA tests, which are notorious for throwing up misleading results and can be affected by having ridden a bike or having ejaculated in the 2 or 3 days before the test. The second test result was also high. That’s when all this “cancer stuff” started and I was referred to the “experts” at my local hospital.
It took 19 months to actually encounter someone who I would say really was an expert. He listened. He took me seriously. He did transperineal biopsies. He found the cancer and gave me my diagnosis in December 2013.
A month later in January 2014 he removed my prostate (I had a Da Vinci Prostatectomy). In mid 2014 I had 32 sessions of follow up radiotherapy to the prostate bed and in March 2015 started taking Bicalutamide 150mg hormone pills.
I had surgery because it was initially believed that my cancer was contained in my prostate, which is what the MRI scan showed. It wasn’t. After the surgery I was told it had already spread to my seminal vesicles and it has has since been found to have spread to my pelvic lymph nodes.
In July 2015 I went on to have a second load of radiotherapy, this time to zap the cancerous lymph nodes in my pelvic area in the hope they might be the only ones affected. My hope was that it might gain me a couple of years but it seems the main effect would be to delay the time when I progress on to the next stage when something else has to be tried, rather than increase the time I’ve got. An improvement nonetheless.
As it turned out, I didn’t have as long to wait for the next stage as I’d hoped because in July 2016, after my PSA went up again, I started chemo. I suppose that means the cancer has spread into the rest of my lymph system, which to be honest is not a surprise. The chemo I’m having is Docetaxel and is classified as “early chemo”. It’s a fairly new development that has come out of one arm of the Stampede Trial that reported in 2015. It could possibly give me anything between another 10 and 22 months on top of what I might have (if it works).
For the uninitiated, all this might sound really bad. Well, it’s not good but it could be worse. I turned 60 in March 2015, I’m hoping to see 65 and probably 70, although I’m aiming for 90 minimum. If for no other reason than to be bloody-minded.
Looking back I honestly think I had bad doctors and terrible treatment when my GP referred me (apart from my GP!). I think they really ought to have seen the signs and recognised them for what they were. Instead they seemed more influenced by my age than by what was happening to the man sitting in front of them. I was considered to be YOUNG in the world of prostate cancer which is, I suppose, the one upside to this but the downside is I wasn’t taken seriously.
If you want to know more about my cancer experiences please read my blog. I write it partly to “tell it like it is” from my own perspective, partly to sort things out in my head and partly to help anyone else facing this life changing disease. I’m not a doctor so please don’t take anything I write as gospel.
I’m happy to try to answer any questions based on my own personal experiences of prostate cancer but I can’t advise you.
Please also look at Looking for answers