by Vivien Pipe
For every man diagnosed with prostate cancer there is usually a wife or partner for whom that diagnosis will mean a life changed for ever. I know because it happened to me. My husband suffered none of the usual symptoms associated with the disease. He believed he had a persistent flu virus. But the PSA test revealed otherwise. He had advanced and aggressive prostate cancer that had already spread to his bones. And with that diagnosis my world started unravelling.
My first concern was for my husband. He needed immediate treatment which brought with it unpleasant side effects. He became impotent, suffered night sweats and pain in his bones. He did not grumble but neither did he discuss practical issues like finance, the practicalities of remaining in our present home and the future. All that was left to me.
Suddenly I had to take on the role of nurse, accountant, handyman and actress. The latter because my husband refused to acknowledge his condition and so friends and family had to go along with the deception. An utterly draining role to play.
In some ways I was fortunate. We had no children. But for many families the disease strikes at a time when sons and daughters are taking examinations crucial to their future and also need support and protection.
For my husband his illness was short. I became a widow just nine months later at the age of fifty seven. My soul mate, my lover and my best friend had gone. It was a bleak and cold future to face. And to face it without complaint because you are the survivor. You are alive but only just. And so yes women do suffer from prostate cancer. For us there is no cure until our partner's lives are no longer limited by this disease.