A year ago, Kurt Jewson crashed our website after a selfie he shared on Facebook went viral, sending thousands of people searching for more information about the prostate cancer that had left him with a colostomy bag at age 44. He tells us what happened in the whirlwind of media attention that followed, and how he hopes recent treatment could finally leave him cancer-free.

30 Jan 2017

Kurt's selfie in 2016 and now

Andy Warhol once said: "In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes".

Well my time in the spotlight came in January 2016, when a selfie I took standing in my pants, with a stoma bag and catheter, went ‘viral’ on Facebook, being shared 250,000 times with 25 million people seeing it!

My world went into hyper-mode: the phone didn’t stop ringing. I had messages pouring in, invitations to appear on radio, TV, in blogs and in the press. Everything went mental.

I didn’t mean it to. Sort of.

Overwhelmed by response from diagnosed men

You see I did the post to raise awareness of prostate cancer to my Facebook friends. I didn’t think they’d share it on, and then it would get shared all over the world!

Very soon I began receiving private messages from individuals who had seen my post and wanted to get in touch. These messages were sometimes heart-warming, and sometimes tragic. To be honest, for a while it all became a bit much for me. I was struggling with my own cancer, and at the same time I vowed to myself to reply to every single person who had written to me.

One of the stories that I heard over and over again was that of men who had prostate cancer and were under 50. Most hadn’t been listened to by doctors when presenting symptoms, and thus were eventually diagnosed much later than should have been the case. This made me even more determined to raise awareness of the disease in younger men whenever I could.

Concentrating on treatment and going bag-free

As January became February and the year went on, the hype slowly died down and I was able to focus on myself once more. In March I had my stoma (colostomy) reversed, so I no longer have a bag, and my catheter removed. I was free. Well, free to jump on my rowing machine and herniate the spot where it was!

The summer came and, unfortunately, my PSA (the marker for prostate cancer) began to rise. So in August I began six sessions of chemotherapy, three weeks apart. This wasn’t so bad, and the steroids that they give you just before and after the infusions are great. I was bouncing off the walls!

However, you pay the price. When they would wear off I’d be shattered for the next week, slowly regaining strength until the next time. But my PSA went down again and I was all finished by Christmas.

Hopeful of a cancer-free future after radiotherapy

Currently, I’m receiving radiotherapy every day for six weeks to the area where my prostate used to live. Every day I have to make sure that my bowels are empty, bladder is full and that I’m not gassy ‘down below’, so that the area I’m being zapped in is clear of all other guts and whatnot. Basically, drink, shit and fart beforehand and I’ll be OK!

The radiotherapy will finish in March. Hopefully I can then have my rowing machine-induced hernia sorted and come off my continuing hormone treatment in September. Fingers crossed we’ve got it and I’m going on to have a long and happy cancer-free life.

If my 15 minutes have helped raise awareness, then it’s been worthwhile. Of course, I’m now ‘Pants man’ to all my friends but it’s cool. So long as it doesn’t become my party piece!

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