Cancer stories

Tony’s story

I had been going to my GP for several years. He did regular blood tests to monitor my PSA and when he saw it rising, he referred me to a specialist.

The specialist diagnosed me with prostate cancer and recommended I have radiation therapy. I got a second opinion from a surgeon who offered to do a radical prostatectomy. I didn’t want to have radiation – a couple of friends recommended surgery and I decided I wanted to get the cancer out.

I suffered from incontinence after my operation. My surgeon gave me some exercises to improve my continence, but they weren’t effective.

Some friends recommended I see a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor exercises and I started to see her about 12 weeks after the operation.

The physio gave me some exercises to do. They’re straightforward – you can even sit and watch TV when you do them – but they’ve seemed to work. I’ve been doing them for over a year and my continence has improved at least 90%. On reflection, I wish I had seen the physio before my operation or very soon afterwards. 

I’m in a prostate cancer support group run by the hospital. I joined after treatment, but I would recommend that men join a group as early as possible after diagnosis.

It’s great information, and it’s good to be with other people who have been through the same experience and can talk about it.

It’s magic to get help and support from other people. I’ve gone every month since joining and it’s been of great benefit to me.

Derek’s story

I didn’t have any symptoms, but I had a few high PSA results so my GP referred me to a urologist. The urologist suggested we keep an eye on it. After 12 months, my PSA was still rising so he arranged a biopsy. It was three days after my 60th birthday when the biopsy results came back and I was told I had prostate cancer. It was bloody frightening.

The urologist explained he could do radical surgery, either open surgery or keyhole, and told me to go away and have a think. About a month later, I’d made up my mind – let’s take this out, get rid of it – but I was deadset lucky he was such a great urologist. He said, “Wait a minute here – I might be doing myself out of a job, but you’re 60, you’re fit and healthy, and there are other options.” And then he referred me to two specialists – one in external beam radiation therapy and the other in brachytherapy.

As soon as we met with the brachytherapy specialist, my wife and I looked at each other and more or less knew this was our guy. It was just a feeling – when he described the treatment, we felt confident. Because it was hard to tell from the scans if the cancer had spread, I also had external beam radiation therapy a few months after the brachytherapy, just to mop up any cancer cells that might still be there.

I read a lot about all the negative side effects you might get from radiation therapy, but I’ve had no long-term side effects and I wonder now what all the fuss was about.

I have my PSA tested every six months and it’s stayed low. I don’t even think about the cancer now, but luck certainly played a part. For me the hardest part was the initial shock of the diagnosis.

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This information was last reviewed in March 2018
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