Christopher Patey was ignoring his difficulties passing water until a newspaper columnist's account of his own prostate cancer symptoms spurred him to see his GP. He hopes a gift in his Will to Prostate Cancer UK will help fund better diagnosis and treatments so his son and grandsons won't have to live in fear of the disease.
I’d been having trouble passing water for some time, but hadn’t paid much attention to it. Then I read an article in the Times in which the medical columnist talked about his own prostate cancer symptoms. This rang alarm bells, so I went to my GP. It turned out I had prostate cancer.
The diagnosis was absolutely terrible news, but the tremendous support of my wife, Carole, and our children, Clare and Michael, helped me a great deal. The upside of my cancer was that we became even closer as a family.
Treatment options 20 years ago were much more limited than they are today. I had a radical prostatectomy followed by radiotherapy and was warned about the side effects. Although I have not been troubled at all by incontinence, the operation did leave me impotent.
I’m alive and I’d like to do all I can to give a better outcome to people who have the disease
But the treatment worked and today my PSA levels are so low that they are unreadable. Back in 1996, I couldn’t have imagined I’d still be here.
After my treatment, I took stock of my life and looked at my priorities. I retired early from my job and I decided to donate more of my time to helping voluntary organisations. I also added Prostate Cancer UK to my Will. I thought: "Here I am – I’m alive and I’d like to do all I can to give a better outcome to people who have the disease".
My gift could help fund research that will improve detection methods. It’s clear that what we really need is something better than the unreliable PSA test.
I hope the gift I leave will also help to get the message out there. Prostate cancer is such a common disease and such an important men’s health issue, yet so many people know so very little about it.
Christopher with (right to left) son Michael and grandsons Louis and Oliver
Without treatment, I think it’s very, very unlikely that I would have lived to meet my four grandchildren Dylan, Poppy, Oliver and Louis. But as things have turned out, they don’t live far away and I get to see them often.
I believe things will be very different for my grandsons. If prostate cancer affects them, I hope that diagnosis will be different and that there will be many more treatment options available – thanks in part to the gift I leave and the donations other people make.
I’m not underestimating the size of the challenge, but it’s important to me to be able to make a contribution to a future where prostate cancer isn’t a threat.