Derek Moss was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the same time his close friend, Fred, was battling with the disease. He recalls how bitterly Fred regretted not heeding his advice to see a doctor sooner, and the difference it made between him dying and his own survival.
At 69, I’ve survived for just over 10 years since my operation for prostate cancer and I feel blessed for every day I’ve had. At the time I was diagnosed, I was aware of the disease because it had killed my dad. But my very good friend, Fred, was also fighting what turned out to be a losing battle with prostate cancer. As he told me many times before he died: “why didn’t I take yours and my son-in-law’s advice and go to the doctor sooner?”
Fred and I were almost exactly the same age – he was three days older – and he always led a very active life. But he was totally phobic about going to the doctor. He told me a few times of his night-time sleeplessness, always needing to go to the toilet but only managing a dribble or nothing at all. Every time, I reminded him that these were precisely the symptoms my dad had ignored in 1985 before prostate cancer caused his long slow painful death two years later.
The test was such a simple thing to undertake and now I won’t live long enough to see my grandchildren grow beyond their baby years
Eventually he went to see the doctor about another problem and gave his list of symptoms, so the doctor included the PSA among the blood tests he asked for. His levels came back high and after further tests, they soon found he had prostate cancer that had spread into his bones.
Many times in those last few months of Fred’s life, I sat with him, gently holding his frail hands, and he talked of how much he regretted ignoring his symptoms for so long. “The test was such a simple thing to undertake and now I won’t live long enough to see my grandchildren grow beyond their baby years,” he said.
From diagnosis to death, Fred only survived for 15 months. His grandchildren are now 18 and 19 and he never lived to see them grow into the wonderful young people of whom he would have been rightly proud. I miss having a quiet beer or two with him, too. If he hadn’t ignored those symptoms then, like me, he might well have lived for another 10 years and counting. Now, I’m always telling men 45 and over to get tested, because if you catch prostate cancer early, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.