In 2003, I was hospitalised with a severe urinary infection. My bladder was critically distended and I had great difficulty passing urine. I was in hospital for 10 days. When I was eventually discharged, my PSA protein level read 14.1 ng/ml. I was told that I had prostate cancer. I didn’t particular care for that diagnosis, especially as the attending consultant urologist possessed little and no significant bedside manner. He just sat me down and told me outright and bluntly that I had cancer. No preamble, no apologies, no sympathy, no empathy, nothing. He didn’t give a shit really. Hey Ho. I walked out.

I rang a GP friend of mine (Mike B) to discuss the matter and he reassured me that due to the severe nature of my UTI (urinary tract infection) and the treatment I received (catheterization etc) it was quite possible that the PSA test had produced a falsely elevated result. He advised me to finish my course of prescribed antibiotics and get retested again.

Over the period of the next 3 months, I was retested and my PSA level tumbled to 5 ng/ml and eventually leveled off at 2+ ng/ml. However, since that episode, I have suffered from an enlarged prostate, but I have enjoyed a relatively normal urological life. I watch what I eat and drink and try to exercise as much as I can. In the intervening years, I lost a few good friends who were less fortunate than I and succumbed to prostate cancer.

When I decided to do this charity ride, it was vital for me to adopt the same advice being given out to others. I felt that it was important for me to practice what I preached, so to speak. In Feb 2014, booked for a PSA test which showed a raised level of protein to 5+ ng/ml. My physician concluded that it may have been one of those false positive results. I didn’t care much for the side effects of Finasteride and had stopped taking it totally, in favour of Saw Palmetto. It was deemed prudent for me to have another PSA test and when the results showed the same previous level of 5+ ng/ml, I was then referred to a urologist.

Panic set in and all kinds of imagined scenarios entered my head. I became convinced that I had prostate cancer. My personality changed and with it, I developed a very short tolerance for what I deemed insignificant day to day matters. I was heading for depression and as my partner will attest, I became a very difficult bunny to be with. It’s not that I feared death, but my own idea of my end days was to die with my biking boots on riding into the sunset. I never wished to linger.

I underwent a third PSA which then showed a slight increased level above 5+ ng/ml and the urologist decided that the only definitive course of action left was to have a biopsy. I cancelled my first appointment through fear, took a holiday and wished the test results away.

The advance information on the procedure of having a biopsy was very thorough, but nevertheless it didn’t prepare me for the trauma that awaited me. I need not have worried because, in the end, it very much depended on the attending nurse, the competence and the bedside manner of the urologist. In my case, both were absolutely superb in alleviating my fears, anxiety and paranoia.

I’ve never cared much for having anything up my bottom. My parents were partly French and believed in the virtues of the suppository solution to all ailments. So, the experience of that particular invasive procedure was to say the least, discomforting. Watch out for the loud snapping noise of the spring loaded needleas it scrapes away at your prostate!Ouch!!Apart from that, the only negative was internal pressure while the probe was in place.

The two weeks wait for the results was mentally terrifying. I couldn’t sleep at night. I became even more indifferent to my surroundings and life took on its own twists and turns. I was depressed and ate a lot. It didn’t help that someone I knew was dying of cancer and that his prognosis was grim.

When I received the results of the biopsy and given the all clear, it was as if a heavy load had lifted off my shoulders. I could breathe again and I viewed what laid ahead of me through fresh visors.

The moral of this story is SHARE. Don’t live alone with your fears. I didn’t communicate my predicament with anyone. I chose to internalise all my doubts and convinced myself that I had contracted cancer. Talk to your partner, family and close friends. Trust that they will and can help you through your journey of discovery, whatever the outcome.

I didn’t discuss my plight with anyone, except with my doctor who was marvelous, but that wasn’t enough. Doctors deal with death everyday and their empathy is genuine, but clinical. You need to know that you are genuinely cared about and able to rely on the comfort of real emotions.

I was recommended to go back on Finasteride, but I am also taking Saw Palmetto as a supplement. I am informed that a combination of Alpha-blockers such as (terazomin) and 5-Alpha reductase inhibitors (dutasteride) may help to reduce the size of the prostate. I am due for a consultation on that option and more on that later.

I believe that I have been blessed and it is therefore with great humility that I am doing this ride in aid of those, who like me have been affected, in one way or the other, by Prostate issues.

Specialist Nurses are available for you to talk to on 0800 074 8383. You can also email them your concerns by visiting prostatecanceruk.org

Cheers,
Roger

justgiving