When Martin was first treated for his localised prostate cancer, he still felt like something wasn’t right. Years of anxiety later, he got the news he was dreading: his cancer had come back. Now, Martin’s trying to stay positive, and we’re making sure men in the future won’t have to go through the same ordeal he did.
I was 54 when I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer. Initially, the doctors thought they’d caught the cancer early, and that it was contained within my prostate. But somehow, even after I had the prostatectomy, I had a feeling that it wasn’t over. So, on one level it wasn’t really a surprise to find out five months later that I'd need further treatment.
Statistically, I knew that even then it wasn’t over, and the cancer would one day come back again. With hindsight, I feel like I’ve spent the last ten years waiting to hear bad news. In the last two years especially, I got more and more depressed; became more reclusive and withdrawn. It wasn’t the sort of acute depression that I felt I needed to act on. It was just a dull, subconscious heaviness that didn’t really come to the fore until I found out that the cancer was back.
I’d get another spike of anxiety around every three-monthly PSA test.
If anything happened so that I couldn’t get the results of my latest blood test on the day I’d expected them, I’d be distraught. I just had to know. In hindsight, I think I probably should have had counselling to help me deal with it.
My PSA levels continued to rise every three months and eventually my oncologist and I jointly agreed it was time for more scans. These confirmed that the cancer was back, and that it had spread to my hip and lung.
It may sound strange, but it was such a relief when I found out that the cancer was back; I felt like I finally knew what I was up against. It highlighted just how depressed the uncertainty of the last few years had made me.
At my last appointment, I formally requested to see all my CT and bone scans.
Even though I don’t really know what I’m really looking for, it helps me feel more in control to think that I can see the cancer now. It’s not in control of me. I can see it, and I can manage it.
I’ve just completed 18 weeks of chemotherapy and started life-time hormone therapy.
My oncologist won’t and can’t give me a definitive answer as to how long I’ll survive. I know it’s all statistical. Lots of things are vague. I know she can’t tell me exactly what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t stop me wanting to know.
As far as I know the cancer will probably grow again in about two years and I’ve a five-year survival chance of about 30 per cent. What I’m actively working on now is to be upbeat, positive and happy that I’m alive and well, and not to let those frequent negative conversations that go on in my head get to me before the cancer does.
We’re dedicated to making sure that in the future, men like Martin don’t need to worry about their cancer coming back, and the devastation that news can bring.
We’re asking the questions and funding the research that will tackle prostate cancer recurrence head-on, by finding out who is at risk of their prostate cancer returning, and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t.