Why a walk to a local restaurant for a romantic meal was such a special moment for one couple dealing with prostate cancer.
For their last Valentine’s Day together, Mike told Janet that he wanted to walk her to the hotel restaurant at the end of their road for a romantic meal. It might not sound as grand as a trip to Paris, but both of them knew what a special gesture the short journey on foot would represent.
“Mike’s mobility was very poor at this point, and he was in a lot of pain due to the spinal cord compression, so I didn’t think walking to dinner would be possible,” says Janet. “I suggested getting a taxi or staying over in the hotel instead, but he was determined.”
Eighteen months earlier, in August 2008, Mike had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer aged 63. Despite having no symptoms, he had a Gleason score of 10 and a PSA count of more than 90. His condition was serious and the couple of 17 years soon realised Mike had very little time left.
As well as two cycles of chemotherapy, Mike had hormone therapy and then radiotherapy, followed by spinal surgery for a malignant spinal cord compression. “Mike’s doctor told me that they’d never seen anyone fight like him,” says Janet. “But unfortunately he wasn’t responding to treatment and we knew we were approaching the end.”
Despite the surgery leaving him only able to walk with sticks, Mike wasn’t one to feel sorry for himself. “He kept up a brave face for his family and was always thinking of ways to make other people happy,” says Janet.
He refused to use his wheelchair and wanted the evening to be special
And so it was with his plans for Valentine’s Day in 2010. “He didn't want me driving him to the hotel as he wanted us to have wine,” said Janet. “He refused to use his wheelchair and wanted the evening to be special.”
Mike booked extra physiotherapy sessions and practiced his walking while Janet was at work. The day before Valentine’s, he did a ‘dry run’ and managed to walk half-way to the end of the road before being exhausted.
But thanks to all his hard work, on the day, Mike was able to walk Janet to the restaurant.
“We had dinner, shared a bottle of wine, and even had a brandy to finish,” says Janet. “And then we walked back home together, exactly as he had planned.
“It might not seem like much, but it’s these precious moments we shared together that will stay with me forever.”
Sadly, a few weeks after their dinner, Mike passed away in hospital with Janet by his side. Since then, Janet has become a Men United volunteer with Prostate Cancer UK to try and raise awareness of the disease and support more people facing a diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer.
“I do remember Valentine’s Day fondly now,” says Janet. “In the early years it was a very painful time, but time has made it much more comfortable."