I'm 77 and I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996 after I experienced difficulty passing water. I had recently read an article in The Times newspaper in which the symptoms were mentioned, which had prompted me to visit my GP.
My GP referred me to The Royal Marsden where I had a PSA test, which was high. I then had a biopsy and the results showed I had prostate cancer. I felt absolutely dumbfounded and terrified. I just couldn’t believe it.
The consultant gave me two options for treatment – watchful waiting or a radical prostatectomy. I decided to have the surgery as although the side effects concerned me, I felt even more worried about not doing anything at all. This was 1996 and there weren't as many treatment options as there are now, so I really felt a prostatectomy was the best option.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had never read the article in The Times.
In 1997 I underwent a radical prostatectomy which appeared to be successful. I was warned by my doctors that a marginal amount of the tumour may remain, so I underwent a course of radiotherapy. Unfortunately, a few months later I underwent another operation as I was experiencing considerable pain and discomfort from being unable to pass water. In the weeks that followed I had to self-catheterise which although uncomfortable in the beginning, quickly became routine. It was six months before I was able to pass water again normally.
I also experienced another unwanted side effect following the prostatectomy – impotence. Luckily, I was happily married, so my wife was very understanding. The side-effects were unpleasant, but I am now fully recovered and am living a healthy life. The care I received from the doctors and nurses was nothing short of wonderful and I’m very grateful to them.
Some years later, I now have the all-clear and I often wonder what would have happened if I had never read the article in The Times.
I’m so keen to share my story to raise awareness in other men. As men, we’re often not good at visiting our doctor if something isn’t right, so I hope by sharing my experiences it will encourage other men not to ignore the symptoms.