Prostate cancer is not just an old man's disease
I decided this is where I wanted to go and contacted the professor directly. I have private medical insurance which approved the operation and the professor agreed to do my surgery personally due to my age and because I was coming from overseas.
The operation went well and afterwards it is routine for the pathologist to examine the removed prostate and seminal vesicles and give the patient a full report.
A week after surgery I went home and 10 days later got a call to say the pathology results had shown cancer in the seminal vesicles and there was a chance that cancerous tissue had been left behind. This news was worse than being told I had prostate cancer in the first place.
Apart from the physical effects of surgery, mentally I was torn up and I genuinely found it difficult to keep it together.
I was referred to an oncologist (Gerry McVey) for follow-up treatment who, after some investigation, said he did not believe the pathology report from Leipzig, as the scenario was unheard of. Unknown to me, he requested my pathology samples from Germany and had them re-tested. Two separate reports showed that the cancer had not spread to the seminal vesicles – these results were then double-checked in Leipzig. I was so relieved.
It was a genuine mistake but it’s probably the only time I can say Ireland 1 Germany 0. It just shows you that although we have issues with our health system there are world class medical professionals working within.
I went through emotional and mental torture over the past few months as everything with my case seems to have been exceptional.
Whenever I read an article about prostate cancer, I still get the terrors, particularly if it’s about someone dying from it. And I worry will it come back and try to get me. But then I slap myself out of it and get on with trying to cleanse myself mentally of what I have been through.
Physically, I am doing well but I am constantly reminded of what I have been through as I have been left with erectile dysfunction. But with the help of treatment I will eventually conquer it and I am getting great support, particularly from Lorraine.
I have to have my PSA levels checked regularly and the last two tests have been below 0.003 – undetectable – which is fantastic.
Our fourth child is due on the 2nd of October, which will be a great diversion from what has been a pretty horrible year for us.
Prostate cancer is not just an old man’s disease and I am a prime example of that. I would advise all men to get a health screen every couple of years. Early detection is vital. Most screenings aren’t covered by insurance, but stay in for a couple of weekends and put the money aside. It was certainly the best €180 I ever spent.
For more information visit blueseptember.ie
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* Blue September is a campaign aimed at highlighting the cancers which affect Irish men and encouraging them to look for telltale symptoms and seek help if they have any concerns
* Ireland has the highest rate of prostate cancer in Europe with a 60 per cent higher incidence than the European average