I was very interested to read the item on prostate cancer which featured Simon Woodhams (Gazette, March 5). Mr Woodhams was involved in my biopsy program.
I am now a few months away from being 70, and my story started about ten years ago with a loss of libido and pain down below. I got an appointment with my doctor, who checked my prostate and did not seem to think that anything was wrong.
He sent me to have a PSA test which came back low, so therefore I thought my prostate was ok. That’s a lesson to be learnt – a low PSA reading does not mean everything is ok, you need to keep on top of it with your doctor.
Eventually, after I retired, I was put on the list to have a TURP, an operation to clear the tube in the prostate to allow fluid to flow more freely. Only a few days after I had this operation, I had a phone call to ask me to return to see a specialist – a bit scary. I was told that I had a small amount of cancerous scrapings from my TURP.
With that news, as you can imagine, I was devastated because, as I said, my PSA blood tests were always low. After that, I had a biopsy done by Mr Woodhams, who confirmed in conjunction with an MRI scan, that the cancer was now growing outside my prostate and was not operable.
I had injections for six months and a hormone tablet to reduce the size of the prostate. After six months I had 39 radiotherapy treatments at Brighton Cancer Unit. At the end of the treatment, I was told in the short term I would get worse rather than better, but in the long-term should be cured.
Being incontinent in both ways was not very funny, but after a few weeks this subsided. To make matters worse, I was also being treated for kidney stones during this time – the pain for this is something else. The radiotherapy shrinks every organ and tube in your lower body, so therefore getting at my kidneys was a nightmare and out of seven operations, two were aborted.
After all this treatment, I am not the man I was, but please remember, a low PSA does not mean you’re clear. If you’re not happy because you know your body, hound your doctor until you are.
Robin (Rusty) Briggs
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