Coming to terms with advanced prostate cancer


Peter, a 77-year-old man from Glasgow, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999. At the time, his cancer had spread just outside his prostate. Treatments have kept Peter’s cancer under control for many years but it’s now spread around his body. Peter is currently having abiraterone treatment. Here, he talks about coming to terms with advanced prostate cancer.

Peter's experience

I still remember being told that I had prostate cancer. When I heard those words, I honestly thought I’d be dead within six months. But here I am 17 years later!

I started off on radiotherapy and hormone therapy. I don’t remember exactly when it occurred to me that I was not imminently going to die. It probably was when the hormone treatment, before radiotherapy, started to lower my PSA level – it told me my cancer was responding. And seeing men at a local support group who had had prostate cancer for many years really helped.  

Everything looked ok for a while after radiotherapy but in 2006 my PSA started rising and the doctor confirmed that my cancer had returned, and with it all the anxiety and confusion that the word cancer invokes.  I then started hormone therapy. The side effects were tough for both me and my wife – hot sweats, weight gain, low libido. But I thought, “What the hell – I’m alive.”

The hormone therapy side effects were tough for both me and my wife – hot sweats, weight gain, low libido.

Hormone therapy kept me going for about nine years but about a year ago my PSA started creeping up again. My cancer has now spread and I’ve started on more treatment.

Feeling angry

At times I’ve felt very angry. I thought that if there had been a screening programme, my cancer could have been detected earlier. I’ve read all the arguments for and against a screening programme. But it’s difficult to accept that there isn’t a screening programme because, for me, I think it could have helped. Perhaps I’d have been able to have surgery.

I was also angry about my radiotherapy not working. I kept thinking, “If only they had aimed the beam at the right place or used a stronger dose.” Those are difficult thoughts to have. I had lots of questions and no answers.

At times I’ve felt very angry.

How things are now

It’s now a case of seeing what treatment is available and hoping it’ll keep my cancer at bay for a little while longer. My consultant suggested chemotherapy but I don’t want treatment that will cause lots of side effects. I still feel reasonably well and I want that to continue for as long as it can. I’m currently taking abiraterone and a steroid.

Thinking about the future

I’ve sorted out the things that need doing – my Will and power of attorney. My daughter works in funeral planning, so she likes us to have things in place just in case. Now and again I think about sorting out all the paperwork in the loft. But perhaps I’ll put it off a bit longer!

I don’t know how long I’ve got left – probably a couple of years. I am conscious of the fact that this cancer is not going away and so I don’t plan anything long term.

I am conscious of the fact that this cancer is not going away.

My family probably think about the future more than me. I think my children probably talk about it together. They asked me about having a big family holiday, perhaps wondering if it’ll be my last.

I don’t tend to think about the future too much. I enjoy life as it goes along. I take guitar lessons – despite being tone deaf – and like to go to concerts. It keeps me interested in life and stops me getting too old and grumpy.

I don’t tend to think about the future too much. I enjoy life as it goes along.

My tips for other men

  • Knowledge is power. All the way through, I’ve made a point of finding out as much prostate cancer information as I can – from the information from Prostate Cancer UK and from other men.
  • Find your local support group. At first it was a brilliant way to get support and find out about treatments and how they affect men. Now I know a bit more, I want to pass on my experience to help others in similar situations.
  • Focus on the things you enjoy. For me, that’s been bowls, golf, music and my family. I’ve always been a positive person and I like to enjoy life. Enjoying life helped me deal with some of the anger that I felt when my prostate cancer came back.
  • Appreciate what you have. I do have a comfortable existence with family close by and do not really want for anything. I am fortunate in that respect.