It’s great seeing all you guys growing a moustache for November-Movember to help raise awareness of men’s health. I won’t be growing one, but I do want to do my bit and talk about our health.
In 2020, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In March of that year, my doctor called me in for a random blood test. He had recently taken over the practice and wanted to get an update on all patients on the books. A week or so later, I got a call from the practice nurse saying my PSA levels were slightly raised.
Prostate Specific Antigen is a protein that turns semen into liquid. If your PSA level is higher than normal, it can sometimes be a sign of prostate cancer. However it can also be a sign of a less serious condition like a prostate or urinary infection.
But it only happens to other people
I wasn’t overly concerned as there is no cancer in our family. How many of us have said that – “there is no cancer in our family” – thinking this is something that only happens to other people.
Anyway, I went back to my doctor. He explained what is was all about and I decided to wait and get it tested a few months later. This time, the PSA reading was unchanged, although still higher than normal. I decided to wait a little more and said if it was raised the next time I would go for further checks. Yes, as a guy, there was a part of me that actually thought it may go away on its own.
September had come and my PSA level were raised further. I decided I needed to follow it up and my doctor was strongly recommending this. I was referred to the Rapid Access Prostate Clinic in Galway. It’s a bit of a mouthful but when you’ve said it enough times, it rolls off the tongue quite easily.
I went through the usual barrage of doctors, hospital appointments, blood tests, biopsy, MRI, and CT scans. In April of 2021, I had robotic surgery to remove my prostate. I am now cancer-free – yeah! – and fully recovered. There were a few niggles that did resolve themselves after some time.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in Ireland. Link. (Breast cancer is the third most common – we all talk openly about that – and rightly so.)
But men – us men, are a bit shit about talking about our health and our bodies, and especially anything near our knobs – we need to change that.
1 in 7 Irish men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime – picture you and six of your mates. Which one (or two) will it be?
While it’s often regarded as an older guys cancer, it actually affects younger guys too – some as young as in their forties.
And here’s the scary thing. In my case, I had absolutely no symptoms – nothing, nada, zilch. There’s no history of cancer in our family. It was picked up on a random blood test.
So, throughout the entire episode, I wasn’t sick – I just had cancer sneaking around inside me, tiptoeing about so as not to alert me – the little bollox!
Early in the morning, I was woken by a nurse and he had some presents for me – medication – to relax me, a lovely blue shower cap and some compression stockings. I’ve had better fashion days.
I was wheeled down to theatre at 8am. There, they prepped me. A tube or needle was inserted into my lower spine – it wasn’t sore. I was then moved to an operating table, which I remember as being higher and narrower and from there, into the theatre where the anaesthetist met me. He was a pleasant enough fellow – I remember counting back from 5 – I think I made it to 3 before it was lights out.
The operation itself took about 3-4 hours and it was at lunchtime when I came round back on the ward. Obviously, I couldn’t remember anything that happened. I’ll be honest – your body will be a right battleground and there will be tubes sticking out of places that really shouldn’t have tubes in them. I was very groggy and slipped in and out of sleep for a few hours. I don’t remember being in any significant pain because I was on lots of antibiotics and pain killers – thankfully.
Then we have the process of recovery. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this starts but prepare yourself a good few weeks of grinding it out. As the tubes and drains come out, you’ll begin to feel more human. After a few days, I was discharged and let home. I left with a few more accoutrements than when I arrived but in time, these get discarded too.
At the end of the day, I was cancer free and was more than happy to have the surgery. Life today is back to normal.
Get a blood test
So guys, if you do one thing for yourself and for those closest to you – go and get a blood test. When it’s caught early, it’s entirely treatable and yes, curable too.
If you are going through this or if you have any questions, feel free to message me – I’m more than happy to share my own experience.
To find out more about prostate cancer, follow this link – https://www.cancer.ie/cancer-information-and-support/cancer-types/prostate-cancer