The following words in this article and any subsequent articles covering this subject are only a diary of my experiences with prostate cancer. It is a way of being open and honest about what is happening to me in an effort to prevent it happening to anyone else.
We men are all guilty of brushing the prospect of having prostate cancer under the proverbial carpet. We mask that guilt by telling ourselves:
"It is something that happens to others but not me."
"I am a fit, healthy and robust kind of guy. So, how can prostate cancer get to me? It only happens to old men doesn't it?"
Well, yes it does happen to older men with as many as two thirds of us over 65 can be affected by it. It is very rare in men under the age of 40 but can happen. Across the entire male population it can happen to as many as thirteen in one hundred.
Let's just summarise that:
Aged 65 or over - 66% chance you will develop prostate cancer
Make sure it is not one of you.
CAVEAT WRIT LARGE
Although I describe what tests, examinations and treatments I have, these descriptions are not to be taken as any form of medical advice. How I am being treated has been decided on and implemented by the medical professionals. They and they alone are the ones examining, testing, analysing and diagnosing specifically for me. What I describe here should not be considered as a basis for self diagnosis, self treatment or self medication under any circumstances.
If you think you have any symptoms or any concerns about developing prostate cancer seek professional medical advice as soon as possible.
THE NHS IN THE UK
Fortunately I live in the UK which was the first country in the world to offer its citizens free health care at the point of delivery. Despite all of its well publicised problems such as under funding and staff shortages it is, in my opinion, one of the best services in the world. Healthcare is free at the point of delivery. Me having prostate cancer is a big enough worry in itself without the added worry over it being covered by health insurance and having to pay for everything ourselves. Thank goodness.
WHERE & WHAT IS THE PROSTATE?
It is a small gland located just below the bladder. The actual dimensions of ‘small’ are weighing in at 15 to 20 grammes and with a potential capacity of between 20 to 25 cubic centimetres. It is slightly smaller than a single shot of your favourite tipple and about the size of a walnut.
What it does is work away silently and unobtrusively supporting the male reproductive system. It generates the seminal fluid that transports sperm.
You are all grown ups so I won't go into any further detail about the male reproductive system.
About nine months ago I began having to get up more than once during the night to pass urine. Once became twice and for one night I was up and down at least six times between eleven pm and seven am. I don’t mind admitting this but I was exhausted by the next morning and so was my wife. Also, during the day I would find myself being caught very short which once or twice was almost embarrassing. And there was some discomfort when passing urine.
I am being as honest as I can be here in the hope that if only one person reads this, thinks they might have it and seeks proper medical advice then this confessional will have been worthwhile.
GETTING MEDICAL HELP – AT LAST
By the time this happened I had already contacted our local surgery.
I had a long phone consultation with a doctor. This involved me describing the symptoms to him. If you do this then do not under any circumstances hold back on the details, be honest with the doctor and most importantly be honest about yourself. Doctors have heard it all before.
Once I described the symptoms the doctor ran through a series of questions about how my bladder habits had behaved and how I felt. This test only took a few minutes after which he decided I should attend the surgery to give a blood sample and provide a urine sample. Concurrently with providing these samples I had to arrange an appointment for a consultation with the doctor.
At this consultation I was told that my urine was fine. The blood test showed I had a prostate specific antigen (PSA) of nine which was not alarming but given the symptoms the doctor still wanted to carry out an examination. This took less than a minute and the conclusion was that my prostate was not as it should be.
Prostate charities here in the UK are working at the medical profession doing away with the physical examination of potential sufferers. The very thought of it is putting some men off from seeking medical advice. That work by the charities has not finished yet but if you have the slightest cause for concern do not allow yourself to be put off seeing your doctor. Just 30 seconds of your own indignity could in fact be life saving.
The doctor arranged for me to have further blood test taken at our nearby hospital and to undergo an MRI scan. These were followed by an appointment with an urologist to review my case.
I didn't have to wait long.
PS don't be shy about sharing this article.
Part 2 to follow. The diagnosis and the prognosis
About the Creator
When you read my words they may not be perfect but I hope they:
1. Engage you
2. Entertain you
3. At least make you smile (Omar's Diaries) or
4. Think about this crazy world we live in and
5. Never accept anything at face value