Ian Edmundson
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After a blood test in February 2016 and then a biopsy in March 2016, I was diagnosed as having prostate cancer.

It came as quite a shock to me and I decided not to post anything anywhere at all about it before having the operation, because I wanted to get my head around it and then get it dealt with and then let people know later on,, rather than have people worried, or looking concernedly at me. You say "cancer" to people and they just don't know where to look.

I had told only my closest family and a few very close friends before the operation and I am so grateful for their support through what was a very difficult time.

My actual symptoms that led to me getting checked out? Lynda said I went to the loo a lot. Nothing sinister in that for me, as I tend to drink coffee professionally. But Lynda said I should go and get myself checked out and I am very grateful that she did so (several times) before I actually got on with it.

My cancer gave me no pain and no discomfort before I was diagnosed. It was hiding away, doing its work on me. I had a simple blood test and two rectal examinations by lady doctors and one by a male doctor. As you can probably imagine, it was quite frightening and dismaying to be told I actually had it. That is a moment I will never forget.

My PSA level was 19, compared to the 4.5 the hospital would have been happy with. It could have been a lot worse.

After being diagnosed, it was necessary to have a biopsy procedure, to get 12 snips from my prostate gland to assess the actual extent of the cancer within the gland itself. The biopsy itself gave me far more discomfort than the actual operation did. It hurt like hell. I felt every single bite into my prostate gland.

As a result of the biopsy, I got sepsis (blood poisoning), which kills people if not managed properly. I was rushed in and hospitalised for nearly a week.

I was discharged just in time for my biopsy result. The cancer showed up as being 'low risk' on one side and 'medium to high risk' on the other. We went through the options in front of me and it was decided to refer me to the Christie in Manchester for surgery.

On April 25th 2016, I had surgery at The Christie in Withington to remove my prostate gland and seminal vesicles. I got there at 7am on the day of the operation and freely admit that I was terrified. I sat with one of the porters outside the operating theatre with a pillow on my knee and joked that this was the point where maybe I should do a runner. He smiled and I suppose he'd probably heard that a thousand times before.

I woke up with five small entry wound holes in my front (all covered up with tape) and another one to hold a drain in my side, that just came out of my skin. The days after the operation mainly consisted of learning how to sit up again and to walk, as I felt more like a sliding block puzzle than a human being. When I managed to get off my bed into my chair, it felt like something of an achievement. The operation had some complications, meaning I was kept in hospital for nearer to three weeks, instead of coming out after a day or two and the staff at the Christie were wonderful at all times, keeping me well informed and no question was 'too stupid' for them.

Since then it has been a slow and sometimes aggravating process, getting my life back to a new kind of normality. Some things are just the same. Some things aren't the same at all. I 'took the deal' when I agreed to have the operation and I have no complaints. I'm just so glad to still be here.

After surgery

As to how I am after the surgery....

I'm really tired a hell of a lot of the time, sleeping during the day for the odd hour or two, a bit emotional and prone to mood swings and also a much grumpier bugger than I ever was before. I can't do as much physical work as I used to and I cut down for a while on gigging. I still go to the loo a lot, but that is because 'the plumbing downstairs' feels a bit different than it was before.

I totally lost my ability to suffer fools, or put up with their foolishness, so I changed bands. So some good came out of all this.

When they looked at my prostate gland properly, a while after its removal, it was far worse than they imagined it would be in the areas where they had not checked it. The word that was used (I think) was 'fried'. I was later told in passing by an Oncologist that the cancer had also gone into my seminal vesicles, which had been removed, as a precautionary measure. A sobering thought.

I am currently being seen by The Christie and The Royal Bolton Hospital on a three-monthly basis, to check my status.


Tell-tale signs:
You may have any or none of these if you have prostate cancer: Blood in your pee. Peeing often. Feeling like peeing often with little result. Getting up in the night to pee. Any degree of erectile dysfunction. More here.

It only takes a few minutes to contact your doctor and ask for a blood test to check your PSA level.
I advise any male on here aged 40 or over to do it. Better safe than sorry.


If the PSA Reading comes back low, then repeat the blood test annually.
If the PSA Reading is higher than 4.5 then a biopsy of the prostate gland will be needed.
This involves a local anaesthetic and 12 snips being taken from the gland. There is a risk of sepsis.

The options (if cancer is found by the biopsy) are:

A)




A course of hormone tablets to reduce the testosterone in the prostate gland, followed by a quite intensive course of radiotherapy, which I am told is rather uncomfortable. It does not stop cancer coming back in later years - in fact the radiotherapy can cause cancer.

*** I would add that following option A makes the cancer inoperable at a later stage if it returns.
B)






The complete removal of the prostate gland, via keyhole surgery, which is a one day robot-assisted operation with a 4-8 week recovery period. There are a number of side effects, but cancer cannot re-grow in the place where an organ has been removed.

Option B looks fairly daunting, but I think anyone diagnosed would want the cancer gone.

A video of a prostatectomy operation is here. Not for the squeamish.
C)

Brachytherapy: The insertion of low dose or high dose radioactive pellets in the prostate gland, which kills off the cancer. Your PSA reading has to be low enough for this to be considered.
 
Doing nothing is NOT an option.

All men of a certain age should really ring their doctor and arrange a quick PSA blood test every year or two. It took me five minutes to pop in and have it done. The much-feared finger up the rear doesn't happen, unless there is a problem. You are far better off having the blood test and finding out if there is a problem, and getting it sorted. If you ignore it, you could have the cancer spread to a point where it can't be dealt with.

It took me five minutes to pop in and have it done. It has saved my life. Really, it HAS.

Our NHS is something we should be so very proud of and do our very best to protect. I don't have a single complaint about how I have been dealt with from day one. Every single person who has dealt with me has been superb.

Genral information about prostate cancer can be found here.


This is a video describing a radical prostatectomy.


July 2016:
Following a review at the end of June, in which they told me that my prostate gland was a in a lot worse state than the biopsy had indicated, I got a letter from The Christie regarding my PSA level ('undetectable') following the removal of my prostate gland. I am cautiously happy with what is said. A couple more reviews like that and I will be able to breathe a little bit more easily. I don't like to count my chickens, etc....


October 2016:
This morning I got another letter similar to the one above. Another 'undetectable' reading. You can't ask for better than that. I just need another nine and a half years of those. That's how long I am going to be monitored for. All the more reason why people should get themselves checked out.


February 2017:
Another 'undetectable' reading on my PSA level from my January review. This means the cancer has thankfully not spread to anywhere else in my body. Fortunately, the prostate cavity is a sealed unit. When the letter from the hospital arrives with my result, I still always hold my breath while opening it. I never take the result for granted.


May 2017:
I was getting quite cheerful about the 'undetectable' readings, so it stands to reason that I should get a 'detectable' reading this review - albeit a tiny 0.08 reading. I have to go back in July to see what that next reading will be and then decide upon a course of action to deal with it as necessary. This could involve me having a course of radiotherapy, which I dread the very thought of. However, the alternative is far worse.


July 2017:
My PSA reading has crept up slightly to 0.10. The Consultant said that 0.20 is classed as a recurrence, so we will see what happens at the November review. I can see radiotherapy looming on the horizon and if that's how it goes, then that's how it goes..


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