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My one percent - a prostate cancer story

From Trevor Machin

I am 52 years old and at this moment I am on my second day at home after a six day stay in hospital. I had a radical prostatectomy a week ago. It was my one percent simply because I felt 100% fit and one percent had to go.

I had prostate cancer.

I am currently fitted with my Portaloo strapped to my leg (catheter). I still have a zip below my naval consisting of 18 teeth. Otherwise I am damn well ok.

My journey to get rid of my one percent started in July 2006. I was lucky in that the company I work for gives us an annual medical. Part of which includes normal blood tests and when you are 50 an option for a prostate blood test to check your PSA.

This was the first time I decided to get mine done.... The result came back at 8.5 and I didn't really panic through ignorance. I didn't know what scale 8.5 was a measure against. I did however agree to re-test later in the year. Come October 2006 I by chance met a friend who had had similar trouble, but had found out after problems with his waterworks. His test had been 14.5 and as he was somewhat older than me had opted for hormone therapy. This rang an alarm bell and prompted me to have a retest sooner than I had planned.

I have never had any symptoms whatsoever. 3rd November 2006 I had my retest which came back with a result of PSA 9.5. Go and see your doctor I was told. I was my usual busy self and dragged my feet until my work doctor told me that sooner rather than later was better.

7th December 2006 I saw my GP who examined me and informed me my prostate felt enlarged and he arranged for me to see a prostate cancer specialist. 20th December 2007 was my first consultation, another finger up my rear end and the same diagnosis as before. An appointment was arranged for after Christmas for a biopsy and ultrasound examination.

More action up my rear end. Ultrasound indicated three shadows. I could see them with some contortion. It took some doing. I was interested. The first biopsy was a bit of a shock and by the eighth I was most certainly sweating. Not a very pleasant experience but bearable.

My results were back by the 10th January 2007. A breeze, I thought. This is only something that happens to other people. I really thought I would go in and come out with a bloody prescription. Not to be. Three out of the eight biopsies were malignant. I had prostate Cancer.

An appointment was arranged for an MRI scan to see whether the cancer was contained within my prostate. MRI was straightforward and I went back for the results which were good, in that the cancer was contained to the left hand side of the prostate. Good news. It felt that way too.

So what were my options? Well, over the last few weeks I had been supplied with copious amounts of information on the best way to go and what the consequences were. I opted for surgery. I felt that even though I was only 52 and very sexually active that I would be happier when my one percent was gone.

This was agreed with my consultant as my best choice due also to the fact that I am fit and healthy, but mainly due to a Gleason score of 8. It was aggressive. This baby was moving fast!!

On the 24th February 2007 I was admitted to hospital for my op. A general and epidural anaesthetic.

Over the last two months I have been on a rollercoaster bigger than any Blackpool could offer. I have had loads of tears, fears and dark times. I have oddly enough laughed also. You have to get though your fear of the unknown. Misconceptions, misunderstandings.

Eventually I really think the word 'cancer' didn't really mean that much to me, I just knew that I had this thing that needed to be gone, my one percent. I sought advice from all over the place.....the internet, friends, people listed on information from the hospital that had had the op done. This was very useful.

Anyway here I am 7 days post op and I am doing absolutely fine. My mind has always tried to be positive. I had a very good consultant surgeon. He was very frank and answered all my questions honestly.

I was three hours in surgery. I was awake all the time from the recovery room. I remember the wonderful nurses waking me every hour for 24 hours monitoring my condition. I had the epidural in for 48 hours. It made my right let a bit like dead meat but overall was a godsend in pain relief. As soon as it was out I was on my feet and gently bobbing around. I was walking a distance of 150 yards within 3 days for my daily paper.

I had a saline drip in for 48 hours also and a good supply of sponge lollies to wet my lips. I had the two body drains removed the day I was discharged.

The journey home was a bit of an ordeal. Everything was pulling south within my groin which was uncomfortable. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I was pleased to be going home. Pleased to get home. Very pleased to see the dog who almost ate me.I had to fight her off.

And so here I am just seven days after. Still very positive. I have made the right informed decision for me. I feel great!! I am able to do very light bits and bobs....tea toast and stuff. My body is telling me when to stop. I will get control of my bladder when my Portaloo is removed.

Impotence is still a concern and only time will tell. I did get nerve saving surgery on the right hand side. So at least I have one set of jump leads in place. We will have to wait and see. I think the thing that blew me away the most during the whole of this experience was peoples' relentless kindness. It comes from the most unexpected places and catches you when you least expect it. I have been reduced to a blubbering wreck many times.

Most of all I have to commend the nurses who looked after me in hospital. Their kindness and professionalism is second to none.

I am happy to be 99 percent and look forward to a long and happy future whatever happens. If I hadn't had that blood test at work things could have been so very different........

Good luck to all who go through the same as me.

Believe me you will be ok.

Update

Well here I am now just over three weeks post radical prostectomy. How am I doing now..........

All in all I am doing quite well. Still progressing well on a daily basis. Last week just 19 days post op I went to get the portaloo removed (catheter). A pretty straightforward process. 4 hours in hospital to see if everything is still working after removal.

Except!! I understand my experience was not the norm! I had the x ray to see that my surgery had healed successfully which it had thankfully. Then came the removal of the portaloo.........

Out of all the last few weeks/months’ experiences this little job was to say the least, the most unpleasant of the lot. A delicate area at the best of times, I found the removal/tugging out of the pipe work probably the most painful I have ever had to endure. OUCH! You will get the drift. I am told it was one of the more difficult removals. Little comfort for my nether regions. Tears to your eyes and all that!

Anyway the pain soon becomes but a memory and after downing four coffees and a litre and a half of water, processing it into a papier mashier bottle to be measured I was happily discharged to return in two and a half months time for my first PSA test post op.

My time since my discharge from hospital has taken up a daily routine consisting of the following types of activities.

I am easily able to job about in the house doing various things.

I have taken to walking out each morning to collect the papers. Anything from twenty to fourty minute walks without to much difficulty.

Although I found out almost immediately that breakfast is essential before any walking. It seems my sugar level drops quite a lot in the morning. The effects are that I go light headed (no change there) and very unsteady on my feet.

My water works are generally quite good. I am finding the so called stress incontinence frequent with the getting up and down from seats/chairs. Also when I bend down without thinking.

I am having complete dry nights and have since the portaloo was removed.

As for my other main concern if you refer back a few paragraphs..... Well all I can say is that the literature states about six months although some stories will say much less before things "work". Well I agree with the stories. Not 100% but much better than expected at this time (A big smile) It works!!

Things can only get better. I reiterate.......the whole experience is not a dire as expected.

Get as much information as you can about the procedure that you are getting. I will hopefully keep this updated......

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Updated: 28 September 2009