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I sort of pushed it to be back of my mind, but started to google it and the word ‘prostate’ kept appearing. I started off by cutting out alcohol and altered my diet, and this did actually lessen the symptoms a lot. But I had already made a doctor’s appointment five weeks away. The night before, I nearly rang up and cancelled; I wasn’t a man for going to the doctors if I didn’t need to. I work in a psychiatric hospital and mentioned it to someone at work. She told me not to be so stupid and gave me her appointment time for the following day. Of course I then felt duty bound to go, so I went along to the GP.
I asked him to pardon me for wasting his time, as I really did think there was nothing wrong. He checked my prostate but said he couldn’t tell anything for definite. He gave me a blood test; again, I nearly told him not to bother, but as I was there, I thought “don’t be so stupid” and went ahead with it. I got a call the following Monday asking me to come in the next morning. By now the alarm bells were ringing loud and clear! They didn’t give me any information over the phone but when I turned up for my appointment they told me that my PSA level was 37.5; then, I knew I was in trouble.
I was referred very quickly to see Dr Srihari, a consultant in Urology at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. I was given a bone scan, and this initially came back clear. I had a prostate biopsy, which was a painful experience, and waited for two weeks for the results. This was the crunch; unfortunately I was told that I had stage 2 prostate cancer. I was given some tablets to take straight away and told I would start injections in a couple of weeks. I was relieved at this point; it didn’t sound too bad.
I was also sent for an MRI scan to make sure the cancer had not spread further. I didn’t hear anything for a month and I thought, “no news is good news”.
I was called back in for an appointment at the Lingen Davies Centre, which I thought was just to sort out the plans for my treatment, so I was relaxed about it. Unfortunately, the doctors told me that the PRI had thrown a spanner in the works; it had shown up a small dot on my hip, and at that point they didn’t know what it was, so they sent me up to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen. I had another MRI, CT Scan and bone biopsy.
I had another appointment at Shrewsbury, and I was very tense. I knew this was the big one, and it could be a life defining moment. I knew that it could be bad news so I’d prepared myself for the worst. Unfortunately, the doctor told me there was cancer in my hip. This changed my treatment regime along with my prognosis. I was put on chemotherapy, which I’m starting today. Dr Srihari tells me I may have five or six years if I take all the treatment. I told him that Bill Turnbull’s consultants have told him they’ll get him to 80 so he needs to do better than 65 for me!
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who’ve had treatment, and whether it’s going to be a nuclear holocaust of a walk in the park, I’m not sure! There’s no way out of it, because I was to live as long as possible. I’m glad the treatment is local. I’ve spoken to a lot of people about what’s happening to me; I’m well known locally because I do bouncy castle hire so I meet a lot of people. I’ve started a blog, which I find very cathartic. I had a bloke recently thank me for posting it as it had made him go for a test and it turned out he had elevated PSA. His wife messaged me too, she’s been trying to get him to go to the doctor’s for two years and he’s going now.
Ironically, I wasn’t on any medication or anything before I was diagnosed. I’ve barely drank or smoked for the last 10 years and I was feeling great.
People make excuses not to go to the doctor, or they think they’re too busy, but it’s so important. It’s frightened a few of my friends; I think it’s shocked them that someone of my age has got prostate cancer. Some of them have said they wouldn’t want to know, but not finding out doesn’t make it go away. Yes, you have the worry and the anguish but at least you have a chance if you get treatment. If you leave it too late and have a really short prognosis; I don’t think anyone would say they would rather that than be treated.”
Alun had his first chemotherapy treatment in September 2018 and we will be following him through his treatment over the coming months.
*Normal PSA levels vary, but for men in their 50s, a PSA level of up to 3 nanograms per millilitre of blood (3ng/ml) is generally considered normal. For men in their 60s, a normal PSA level is up to 4ng/ml. For men in their 70s, a normal PSA level is up to 5ng/ml. There are no PSA level limits for men aged 80 and over.
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