Rod was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. The diagnosis came as a big surprise, and in addition to coming to terms with his diagnosis, it took him a while to overcome the side-effects from the treatment.
However, after 37 days of radiotherapy, support from Big C and much time spent in his allotment, his PSA levels are now excellent, and his general health has drastically improved.
This is his story…
In May 2017, Rod visited his GP with minor urology problems. After an examination, he left the doctor’s office with a referral to the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH).
At the hospital, the consultant confirmed that Rod had prostate cancer. He explained his initial response to the news: “It was a psychological shock for sure. Suddenly I had cancer and I couldn’t digest the news and what it actually meant.”
His urology concerns would prevent him from being immediately suitable for radiotherapy, and despite his diagnosis, he was not able to begin radiotherapy treatment. However, prostate cancer is dual-treated by the NHS, so Rod did start hormone therapy treatment, which prevents both the testosterone hormone and cancer.
“I was greatly troubled that I could not begin any radiotherapy. I thought when the cancer was diagnosed I would be straight into some kind of treatment but the urologist advised that the radiology would aggravate my urology problems.”
A few months later, his oncologist confirmed that he was ready to start radiotherapy after an operation to help his urological problems. He underwent radiotherapy for 37 consecutive days at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in March 2018.
Rod said: “When I started radiotherapy I was a very apprehensive, and if I’m honest, I was afraid but after a challenging start, things improved. I changed the way I thought about it, and instead of thinking of radiation, I thought of the radiation as my sun rays. Yes, I had some side effects, and near the start I experienced loss of sleep for two full nights. In the scheme of things that is nothing considering what the radiotherapy did for me in the end. I was very grateful; I’d always take the staff some cream cakes from the bakery to say thank you.”
Rod heard about Big C from a friend and during one appointment. He said:
“We were an hour early for one of my radiotherapy appointments and so we popped into the Big C, and that was the start for me. The staff made me very welcome and I was pleased to go there. It was a relaxing place before my treatment and I could have a coffee while I waited. I picked up leaflets about the other Big C centres and discovered the one on Regent St in Gt Yarmouth, which is closer to my home than the one in Norwich Hospital.”
Rod continued to experience side effects from the radiation even though he had been advised that his other urinary issues would probably go back to normal. After the radiotherapy, Rod would then require the three-monthly injections to continue for three years. However, shortly after his radiotherapy had finished, he received some good news. His PSA levels were 0.1 – the lowest possible reading.
Shortly after his radiotherapy, Rod started to attend the Big C Cancer Mens Support Group – his nearest one is located above the Big C Charity Shop in Gt Yarmouth – which he has been attending weekly since April 2018. At the group, he found other people who have had or currently have cancer and he has enjoyed socialising with others in the group.
Rod said: “Many of their problems are similar to mine and this really helped me understand my own difficulties with cancer. We don’t always talk about cancer during the groups, and that surprised me at first. At the time I didn’t feel as though I had anywhere else to turn to so I am grateful for the group. I enjoy the hospitality and I really like that Big C staff are there to answer any of your questions, literally anything you need to know, they’re very helpful. I always find the Big C offer hospitality balanced with advice.”
He added: “I haven’t used the complimentary therapies as yet but it is good to know they are there when I need them.”
Although Rod does still experience some urology issues, he is in good health. In fact, he now has a new lease of life. He has a large allotment (200 square metres) which he cycles to almost every day, and produces some of his own food which allows him to stay fit and also eat healthily. This gives him around 1 to 3 hours exercise a day.
He concluded: “It took me about a year to find my strength again. Big C has been a great support to me and my allotment too has also been my therapy; it’s made me stronger, I’m much fitter for it. In fact, I’m better off than many my age who haven’t had cancer, I’m probably healthier now than I was before I had cancer.
“Big C have also been fantastic. They offer conviviality; they’re a bit like a pub yet without the beer! Instead they welcome you and offer coffee, tea, cake and biscuits, and introduce you to the services and talk to you and ask how you’re getting on. They take an interest in you, that’s meant a lot to me.”
Big C is here to support anyone affected by cancer. If you or someone you know needs support, contact us at 0800 092 7640 (free to call Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm)