Swarn Singh Kang is a Labour councillor in Southall Green, West London. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005.
Before my cancer was detected I had no knowledge of prostate cancer at all. I had no symptoms I was just going to the GP for a general check up. It was only because of my age (67 at the time) that my doctor mentioned something about a PSA blood test. I decided to have one and, when the result came back, my doctor said I should go to the hospital for more tests.
I had a biopsy and I remember receiving a phone call from my consultant. She just said to me, very sensitively, you have cancer in your prostate. I was in shock.
Thankfully the cancer was not aggressive and, after some discussions, I decided to have radiotherapy followed by hormone therapy.
I felt lucky that I was diagnosed in time. It was controllable and I felt this treatment was right for me
I felt lucky that I was diagnosed in time. It was controllable and I felt this treatment was right for me. So for six weeks, five days a week, they would mark my prostate, then I’d go in the radiotherapy machine and have two to three minutes of radiotherapy. I did feel a bit weak after each session and I was told I could have side effects. But at the age of 67, things like impotency didn’t worry me. I just knew I was lucky because I had caught it early. I felt it was under control.
After radiotherapy I had hormone therapy and since then I go back to my GP every year or so for a PSA test. My PSA is now 0.2 and it hasn’t gone above 0.4 since I had treatment. I feel very comfortable and healthy and really satisfied with how my life is going.
Earlier this year I was invited by my GP to a focus group where Prostate Cancer UK were testing their new translated awareness leaflets.
It was the first time I’d properly shared my story. And it was then that I realised the difference talking about it could make. Men started asking questions and talking about going to see their GP.
In my community, cancer is a taboo subject and prostate cancer, by its nature, even more so. Men simply don’t know anything about it. With prostate cancer affecting 1 in 8 men, sharing my story might encourage Asian men to talk about it.
In my community, cancer is a taboo subject and prostate cancer, by its nature, even more so
I really think men should talk more about prostate cancer. At the time [when I was diagnosed] I told my family, who were worried, but I didn’t tell my friends. But after my recent conversation with the group, I found how helpful it could be to share my experience with others and how it can encourage others to seek help. And I think Prostate Cancer UK is doing a great job in creating information for Asian men, so I want to tell more people about my story, what they can do and how the charity can help.
I’m still very healthy. I hope I stay healthy to my last breath and if I can help other people through telling them my story that would make me very happy and very satisfied.
We’ve created new awareness leaflets in Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil and Polish. These have been developed in consultation with community groups, cultural experts and Cancer Equality. The leaflets give information about prostate cancer and other prostate problems, including who is at risk and what changes to look out for.