I had no idea that I had prostate cancer. I had none of the classic symptoms. In fact I was feeling very well; I was leading a healthy life with lots of sailing in the summer and skiing for most of the winter.
It was a regular health check at the Mary How Trust that identified a high PSA reading. I went to my GP who told me the PSA check was “notoriously unreliable”… But I persisted and persuaded him to do another check. Another high reading. So I quickly had a consultation at St Richards Hospital in Chichester.
Other tests - “the finger” and an MRI scan - all indicated that cancer was present. Then a biopsy to confirm the consultant’s diagnosis. I immediately had the first of four quarterly injections to slow the growth of the tumour. This was in August 2015.
I was due to start a course of radiotherapy - my choice of the treatment options available to me - in February, but they assured me a delay of a couple of months until April would not be harmful. So I was able to enjoy most of the skiing season!
The radiotherapy lasted for 37 weekdays, and ran for about eight weeks. The treatment was at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham. A friend who’d previously had treatment at QA advised me to ask for early morning appointments. This I did. The benefits were that it was easier to park at the hospital, and if any of the then four machines suffered a breakdown any backlog would be short. This was great advice. Most days I was in and out in about an hour. It was like going to work in a previous life before retirement – set the alarm clock, breakfast, be at the A27 roundabout by 8 o’clock, etc.
Apart from having to persuade a rather reluctant GP, the interactions I had with the medical staff at St Richards and QA were first class. Good old National Health.
It is now several years since my radiotherapy and I am as fit as a fiddle – still sailing and skiing. The only thing I still do is have a six monthly PSA check which so far has come back each time with a very low reading.
However, I sometimes think that it might have been a very different story if I had not had my check up at the Mary How Trust. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So to all you reluctant chaps: Man up and have your PSA checked at the Mary How Trust.