July 1991, I had applied for a post that mandated an executive profile (comprehensive medical) would have to be undertaken. So at age 37 I had my first Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and blood test for Prostate Cancer (PSA-Prostate Specific Antigen). Thereafter, I would do medicals on an ad hoc basis or only if I was ill and one was required.
As I approached the age of 50, my doctor Dr Clive Anderson ensured each year the blood tests including the test for PSA were done and preferably at the same laboratory each time. I thank him for taking this detailed and caring approach as well as his insistence that the tests were always done. Conducting the blood test to establish each man’s baseline PSA reading is important as that becomes the reference point against which his subsequent PSA results are compared.
In May 2009, my PSA readings started to trend upwards compared to the previous levels so Dr Anderson promptly referred me to urologist Dr Trevor Tulloch. Dr Tulloch immediately told me, and you guessed it, I had to have my second DRE as well as reordered PSA testing but now every six months and not every year as I had been doing before. By June 2010, my PSA level had risen to 3.58 and a biopsy was done to confirm an aggressive prostate cancer.
During this time it should be noted that except for me doing the “wiggly dance” as my dear wife Winsome called it at nights when I was opening the door when we got home and needed to urinate, there were no other signs or symptoms, no pain or no burning during urination, no blood in urine or no loss of bladder control.
Dr Tulloch called Winsome and I to his office and told us his findings and discussed the various procedures available for treatment, asked us to do our own research and decide. We told him we would do so and would give him our response when we returned from a previously planned July 2010 family vacation with our two daughters.
We all went off and had a great time together. But not before holding in-depth discussions over brunch with two couples that are friends of ours that had experienced what we were facing then. Both couples were a big help in allaying some of the initial anxiety and we thank them again for their support. Support of your spouse, family, friends, co-worker and neighbours is so important as they are able to reduce or remove some of the personal and domestic stresses that arise during treatment and recovery.
I cannot thank Winsome enough for her support, care and understanding. Thanks Winnie!!
Winsome and I returned and told Dr Tulloch of our decision to do a radical prostatectomy, ie. removal of the prostate gland. This was done in September 2010 and thank God, in a few days it will be nine years since my procedure was done, PSA readings remain great, working and enjoying life day by day with no major complaints at all.
I want to commend the work that the Jamaica Cancer Society is doing to engage the public and encourage our adult males to get tested. Prostate cancer is not a death sentence; I am living testimony of this. I encourage the public to support the work of the Cancer Society and volunteer with them. I am happy to be associated with ‘Brothers United Against Prostate Cancer’, a male support group initiated by a group from the Webster United Church Men of Purpose. This group was formed with the sole purpose of offering spiritual and emotional support to newly discovered prostate cancer patients and cancer survivors.
Spouses, mothers and daughters… Ladies please help us to implore all men over 45 years old to have the DRE and blood test for Prostate Cancer (PSA-Prostate Specific Antigen) done as a matter of urgency.
Ten seconds of slight discomfort is worth more than the rest of a lifetime in pain and misery.