John would like to share his story to promote prostate cancer awareness and to strongly urge all men 40 and over, to get a PSA blood test every 12 months. John believes that if you do this and you are diagnosed with prostate cancer later in life, you should catch it early, and have the same opportunity to beat this cancer as he did.
Just after John turned 50, he saw his GP and asked for a complete 50 year old “Bloke’s Check Up”. His GP told him that at that time this would include a PSA blood test and a DRE (a physical test that the PCFA now recommends only be done by specialists).
John recalls that after the physical examination his GP asked him to get up but John laughingly told him that he couldn’t as his fingers were stuck in the gyprock wall. From then on John and his GP referred to John’s physical as his “Gyprock in July Appointment”.
John’s PSA, stayed normal until he was 59 when it showed a slight rise to 3.3 and his GP advised a watchful wait approach. This approach detected a PSA rise to 3.5 when 60 and 4.5 at 61. As the PSA had started to move upwards the GP advised John to see a urologist who would investigate further. These investigations included a biopsy and John was informed that of 19 samples taken in the biopsy low grade cancer with a Gleeson Score of 6 was found in 5 of these. John then heard those three words You Have (Prostate) Cancer.
John’s wife Chris was with him at the time and they left the surgery with a fist full of brochures and their heads in a spin thinking about what to do, which way will John go?
John says that he sincerely wished that at that time he would have known that there were Prostate Cancer Support Groups around that he could chat to and find out more about his diagnosis.
John strongly urges anyone reading this who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer to seek out a support group and although they do not give medical advice, the members can discuss their medical experiences.
At the time of John’s diagnosis (2005) he recalls that there were about nine different procedures that could be performed and that to his knowledge none were better or worse than another. After careful thought and further advice from his GP and urologist John chose a Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy.
While waiting for his surgery John had time to have a good chat with his anaesthetist and sought reassurance that he had chosen the best medical treatment for his situation. His anaesthetist told him that at the moment it was the way to go and that he would do the same if he had John’s diagnosis. He also advised John that he could not speak for what may happen in 6 months time as advances were being made so fast now that we don’t know what’s around the corner.
John’s surgery was in January 2006, and at that time laparoscopic radical prostatectomies were at the forefront of medical knowledge.
John believes that if prostate cancer is detected early there is time to make a decision on the best treatment to have and even allows time for a second opinion. John recommends that a shopping list of questions be taken to the specialist and these could include the number of procedures that the surgeon has performed, what are the side effects if any, recovery time, time off work, any ongoing treatments and most importantly cost.
John has been a member of the Nepean/Blue Mountains Prostate Cancer Support Group for about nine years and one thing that he has learnt is that if five men have the same procedure by the same person at the same time, there could well be
five different after/side effects.
John’s surgery was at 1pm on Wednesday 18th January 2006 taking 3 ½ hours and after waking up in ICU about 9pm, John was in a lot of pain, but over the next 24 hours it was discovered that morphine did not work for him and his pain management was changed giving him relief.
The surgeon saw John the next day telling him that his surgery had gone very well and that the cancer that was still all contained in the prostate had been removed. So all being well John should be discharged on Saturday morning.
However, around 8pm on the Friday night, John developed a massive wind
problem that was rolling up and down in his stomach/chest and that this was very uncomfortable. John was told that sometimes bowels go into shock following surgery and it may take between 24 hours to a week to recover. John was also told that he could not be discharged until he got over this problem and that he would be given a tablet every hour to help the wind pass.
After a rather uncomfortable time, the wind passed about 4 am and John instantly felt great and was discharged that morning.
John says that now 11 years later, he still has slight incontinence, and erectile dis-function, but because of early detection he is cancer free.
John is a Board Member of the Nepean/Blue Mountains Prostate Cancer Support Group and is very passionate about his main aims which are to tell every man that there may be NO SYMPTOMS to early prostate cancer, that if it is caught early, it is most probably curable and that more men die from prostate cancer than women die from breast cancer.
SO MEN 40 & OVER, PLEASE GET A PSA BLOOD TEST EVERY 12 MONTHS.