This can’t be happening!!!

In November 2015 I got what I thought was a mild flu or a bad cold and like most men I ignored it. Over the next few months it just got worse and worse in between short periods of feeling better.

In January 2016 I finally decided to go to the doctor. The first appointment ended with the doctor saying the ominous words “This could just be a bug or the beginning of a journey.” Unfortunately it was the latter. Right now I’m at the beginning of that journey but it’s a journey in which I plan to fight all the way.

At the time of this first post a lot has happened so I will recap. It’s important for men who are being first diagnosed or who suspect that prostate cancer diagnosis is imminent to know what to expect and what to ask their doctor. At this point I’ve not asked these questions but having just been advised that I am at an advanced stage less than a week ago (on Tuesday 15th March) I am now just getting my head around it all enough to have done some research and, from that, formulated the right questions.

But first here’s the timeline:

November 2015 – January 2016

I get what I think is a bad cold or a mild flu. There are short periods where I feel better making me think I’m on the mend so I delay going to see the doctor. Throughout December I am getting a gnawing pain in my lower back that I just put down to bad posture or similar. By late December I feel really susceptible to cold. I’m coughing a lot and I feel exhausted. I can make myself feel a bit better if I wrap myself up in a quilt and get so warm I start to sweat. I feel thirsty a lot and need to drink constantly. I’ve also started peeing several times through the night and my back pains get worst through the night, keeping me awake.

In early January I go to the doctor’s and get blood tests which show nothing other than the fact that some inflammation is going on somewhere in my body. It’s only because the doctor asked if I was peeing okay that I think to mention that I am up several times each night to go to the loo. He immediately gives me a digital rectal exam (really not as bad as you’d imagine it to be). He sends me off to give more blood samples.

Monday February 1st 2016

I come back in to get the results of the blood tests and I am told that I have prostate cancer. I am stunned but I take the news reasonably well as my dad had prostate cancer and he recovered well. I think I will be the same.

The doctor is surprised as he doesn’t normally see prostate cancer in someone my age (at the time of the appointment I am 49). He asks me if I have any questions. I am too stunned and shaken to think what to say. He arranges an appointment for me on Wednesday 3rd February so that I can go away, gather my thoughts and come back to him to ask questions. I give another blood sample.

He also arranges an appointment for me at the Urology Dept. of Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley, Scotland on Friday 5th February.

I go home to tell my partner and she is in bits.

Tuesday 2nd February 2016

Me and my partner do some research on the internet. This is terrifying. I read that pains in the lower back through the night can mean that the cancer is already in the bones and that this is untreatable.

Wednesday 3rd February 2016

I wake up ill. I am throwing up constantly. I can’t understand why. I’ve been ill for over three months. Why would I deteriorate so suddenly now? I wonder if it is because I’ve stopped popping pills to get me through the day. Maybe this is me coming off of them.

I go back to see my doctor to ask questions, none of which he can answer. He actually seems irritated by my questions and I realise that there is nothing really that he can tell me. A pointless exercise.

The only thing I learned is that my PSA is 500. I am shocked at this as my dad had a PSA of 50 when he was first diagnosed and my family were led to believe that this was a very high figure. The doctor sees my surprise at this figure but explains that there is nothing that can be deducted from that; I can’t compare myself with my dad as he was in his mid to late seventies when he got prostate cancer so there’s about 25 years difference there.

Over the next day or two I keep waking up feeling ill – vomiting heavily.

Friday 5th February 2016

I attend my appointment at the Royal Alexandria Hospital (RAH) and I am asked if I have any pains at all. I tell him about the back pains that kept me awake. He looks a little concerned and explains that these pains combined with raised calcium levels in the blood suggest that the cancer may have traveled to my bones. I feel a chill when I hear this but I remain hopeful.

He performs another digital rectal exam and advises that I will be sent for a Nuclear Medicine Test to find out if there is any cancer in my bones. He also gives me instructions for my GP regarding my treatment so that I can begin medication.

I am terrified of what is going on in my body and what will happen if there is any delay so I head straight back to my GP’s office and hand in the written instructions I was given to pass on to them and I ask if I can pick up my prescription that day.

I am issued with a a drug called Bicalutamide and a drug for injection called Prostap. I have to take the Bicalutamide once a day at the same time every day for two weeks at which point I need to go to see a nurse at my GP’s office so that she can administer the Prostap. After that I continue with the Bicalutamide for another two weeks.

During this time a friend tells me about a man who had prostate cancer and that he went vegan after reading a book called The China Study. I don’t pay too much attention to this as I think I will be just like my dad – a few drugs, a few injections and some radiotherapy and I will be back to normal.

Monday 15th February 2016

I go for my Nuclear Medicine Test at the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. It’s an impressive place. I get injected with radioactive material at just after 11am and then me and partner, Alison, go to Braehead Shopping Centre to kill time while we wait for it to spread around my body.

In Braehead Alison sees a pair of walking boots she wants to buy me. Normally I’d have said yes but I wonder if I will be here to wear them. As much as I believe everything will be okay there’s always that niggling doubt.

We go back to the Hospital just after 2pm and I get the scans. I’m told that it will probably be a week before there is a written report. They weigh me and I find that my weight is 93 kilos. I will be contacted with results of my test.

Thursday 18th February 2016

I was notified that I needed to attend the RAH for an MRI scan. I wasn’t told about this by my doctor at my last appointment on 5th Feb, but a letter came in to advise me.

I’ve heard that these things can be claustrophobic but I have no problem with it other than trying to stay awake through it all.

They specifically scan my lower abdomen / pelvic area.

Monday 22nd February 2016

I go to my GP’s office to get my first injection of Prostap. I’ve had the drug in my possession since receiving my first prescription on 5th Feb. I bring it with me and a nurse quickly administers it with an injection into the skin of my abdomen and then I am quickly on my way. She tells me to arrange a new prescription of Prostap in early May and come to have it injected on 16th May.

Monday 29th February 2016

I’ve been waiting for almost two weeks for results and it’s playing on my mind. I loop constantly through optimism and pessimism and back. I call the hospital and I am advised that the results of my scans were reviewed late the previous week and I am being referred to an oncologist at the Beatson in Glasgow.

They advise me that I can make an appointment to speak to a doctor at the RAH if I’d like to or I can wait to see my oncologist. I decide that as long as it is all in hand I will just wait.

For the next week or two I hear nothing.

Thursday 10th March 2016

I am at my local GP’s getting a prescription for Alison and I decide to ask whether they have any news on my appointment at the Beatson. On their computers they can see some kind of communication between the RAH and the Beatson about me getting a CT scan – something that I am unaware of.

They can’t shed any light on it so they give me the telephone number for the Urology department at the RAH. The RAH advises me that an appointment has been arranged for Tuesday 15th March at the Beatson. I’m a wee bit annoyed as this isn’t giving me a lot of time to arrange time off work but I say nothing; I’m sure a letter will arrive in the post next day.

But it doesn’t arrive until Monday 14th March – the day before my appointment. I call the Beatson to make sure they weren’t waiting for me to confirm.

Monday 14th March 2016

This is likely to be  the last day I ever consume alcohol. Me and Alison go to the Lord Of The Isles pub in Renfrew. It’s a beautiful, warm day and although I’ve decided to cut down on alcohol I allow myself a wee drop now and then.

Tuesday 15th March 2016

This is the day when everything changes. I attend my appointment at the Beatson and although the hormone therapy I’ve been on is working well and I feel absolutely okay there is some trepidation.

At the start of the appointment the doctor asks me what I know of my condition. I explain that I understand that I have prostate cancer and as a routine check it was investigated whether the cancer has spread to my bones and liver. I explain that there was some concern that some kind of metastasis into my bones was already occurring but my liver appeared to be clear.

The doctor pauses a little and then advises me that cancer has spread to ‘many’ of my bones. Alison asks if it is terminal and the doctor explains that the word terminal is only used when all treatment options have been exhausted and there is nothing else that can be done. She then advises me that it is incurable. I am speechless and for a moment I lose it. I bury my face in my hands and cry uncontrollably. Later on I will look back at this moment and realise that my primary emotion is guilt; I am thinking “What have I done to myself? How could I let this happen?”

Alison asks if this is Stage 4 and the doctor solemnly nods before elaborating that, although incurable, my condition is treatable. I’m really not sure what that means. Previously that word would have meant that I can be fixed but that’s contradictory to what I’ve just been told.

At this point details are a little hazy. I was in shock. I thought I’d just get a few injections, a few drugs, maybe some radiotherapy and recover well, like my dad did, but this news has me reeling. I came away with a strong sense that I should have been coming here with the full knowledge of my condition. I also get the sense that I should have had a biopsy and a CT scan – the results of which my doctor could use to formulate my treatment plan. I get the strong feeling that I’ve just been offloaded by the RAH (a hospital where I’ve had some ‘iffy’ experiences before) and they just wanted me off of their workload.

I am told that recent developments have shown that combining chemo with hormone therapy can be beneficial. It may not normally be offered but in my case I should be strong enough to be able to handle both of these. I had been aware of this option as me and Alison had been doing a lot of research on the web and read about this. It had been referred to as a ‘stampede trial’.

I go home and phone my three sisters to let them know the news. My dad was with me at the Beatson and he got the full brunt of my upset as me and Alison came out of the appointment.

Wednesday 16th March

I call in sick to work next day. My duties that day will be to go round the chilled and fresh department in the shop where I work and look for things that are on their sell by date and reduce them in price. It takes concentration, pace and speed as there is a deadline on it. I know I won’t give a damn about it and that if any customers or colleagues give me any grief I am liable to lose it in some way.

When I call in sick, I get my section leader and he can tell how bad it is by my tone; I can barely speak. He tells me that our team leader will call later on. She does but I have gone out for some fresh air and to think.

I call back and get the shop manager. She knows that I have had some very bad news. So she tells me just to take some holidays that I am due along with a week long holiday that was already scheduled to start on Friday 18th. I can’t fault my bosses. They have been really supportive.

Thursday 17th March

I wake up tired of being this upset. I shake myself off and I sit down at my computer to put a post on Facebook to let everyone know about my diagnosis. Some of my friends offline already knew I had prostate cancer but the hope and uncertainty was that it was localised.

I am overwhelmed by the response to my post. Previously I would have thought there was nothing anyone could say to make me feel better but the messages I got back really lifted my spirits. Amongst the messages was a lot of practical advice: “Go Alkaline”;”Try Cannabis Oil”; etc. Throughout the day messages and into next day the uplifting messages keep coming and meanwhile I review my situation.

During the period when I hoped my cancer was localised I was being fed lots of leads. My dad gave me an article from The Daily Mail (a ‘newspaper’ I loathe) which was actually full of good advice. It made me go vegetarian.

Also a couple of friends suggested a book called “The China Study” to me. One of them knew a guy who got diagnosed with prostate cancer and then went vegan because of this book. Apparently he now looks better than he did before he was diagnosed. The other friend says he met a woman who says she cured her own breast cancer, chemo free, also because of this book.

I speak to my friends and ask about these people. It turns out I can get to speak to the guy who had prostate cancer although I am concerned that his was just localised and therefore far easier to treat but t appears that he was at an advanced stage with prostate cancer in his bones and his lymph nodes.

My friend calls him and lets me talk to him. I arrange to go and see him on Friday morning at his business address. I tell him I will just turn up and wait, reading The China Study, until he has time to see me.

Friday 18th March.

On the way to meet him on the Friday I got a text asking me to call to discuss my availability for a CT scan. I called my immediately and said I was available at any time.

When I get to my destination I am greeted by a pleasant man who, although in his seventies, looks sprightly and well. He explains to me that three and a half years ago he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. It had metastasised into his lymph nodes and his bones. He was abruptly told that there was nothing that could be done for him. The doctor showed him a diagram of where the cancer was and pointed to it on his body. It was then explained that he would be passed on to another doctor for treatment options. He was then given the option of chemotherapy or a clinical drug trial and was given a weekend to decide after having given a blood sample to check his PSA levels.

Over the weekend, to try to cope with his shock and fear he binge drank heavily. When he went back to the see the doctor shortly after he found that his PSA had risen from 40 to 100 – a huge jump. He asked the doctor if this could be explained by heavy consumption of alcohol. His doctor said that it probably couldn’t.

Shortly after that his daughter gave him a copy of T. Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study. After reading this he went totally vegan.

Three and half years later he is doing well. He is running a business whereas many people he knew who were diagnosed at the same time had died within months while many others had died over the past few years.

I asked him if he thought that perhaps some men just left their healing to the doctors and just continued with bad lifestyle habits. He felt that this was quite likely as he saw some men turn to drink and become despondent on hearing of their cancer diagnosis.

Even those who perhaps tried to make positive change may have inadvertently been consuming too much meat, milk and eggs (if what The China Study said was to be believed) in the belief that these were essential for a healthy diet, thus offsetting any good their treatment offered and speeding their demise?

I went home with a lot to think about. Over the next few weeks I spend a lot of time researching diet and lifestyle.

Friday 25th March

Still nothing back about a CT scan. When I went to see my oncologist at the Beatson she gave me a card with contact details for one of the nurses there. I call her to see if there is any word on my CT scan. I explain that I’ve had problems with receiving postal notification of appointments in the past. She says that there is nothing arranged yet so I ask her about a biopsy, explaining that there was some mention of a biopsy being done. She sounds uncertain and I get the impression that there is nothing happening in regard to that but she explains that a biopsy should be getting arranged. She confirms a couple of technical questions for me – that the cancer in my bones is actually little fragments of prostate cancer and not actual bone cancer. She also confirms that the CT scan will be for the purpose of checking whether it is in my lymph nodes.

Saturday 26th March

I have arranged to meet with some friends to go and see another friend who has been diagnosed with cancer and has had some surgery but who is struggling a little, emotionally, because she is living alone and doesn’t have much company to support her through her convalescence while she awaits the results of other tests.

One of my friends tells me about her sister who was misdiagnosed with sciatica for months but who turned out to have cancer. She had it in her lymph nodes and died 6 weeks after she was finally diagnosed correctly. There is some discussion on lymph nodes and where they are and this leaves me feeling very unnerved for the next few weeks.

Sunday 27th March

On my return to work I find that I am getting pains in my back and I start to worry that it is the cancer giving me pain. Perhaps the hormone therapy drugs are starting to fail already.

Monday 28th March

My family has decided to get together for Easter Monday and I think that some of them are afraid I will turn up looking emaciated and ill but like just about everyone I meet they are surprised at how well I look. I have been clearly losing weight and yet again I assure everyone that it’s not all down to illness as I have seriously improved my diet – no alcohol; no refined sugar; no cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets. And I am now completely vegan.

Getting a vegan meal is difficult. I have to opt for a vegetable stir fry. It was actually quite tasty so I don’t mind.

Monday 4th April

I’ve now received details of all my upcoming appointments. I have a CT scan on Thursday 7th April. I have my biopsy on Monday 18th April but an additional letter comes in telling me to go to Ward 28th at the RAH on Wednesday 13th April. I have no idea what that is for.

Additionally, I am already scheduled to go in and see my oncologist on Tuesday 12th April. She needs my CT and biopsy results to confirm the course of treatment to follow, specifically what kind of chemo to offer.

I call my doctor’s secretary and ask her if it is worth me coming in for my appointment on the 12th if I’ve not had my biopsy. She advises me that she will discuss this with my doctor and will call me if anything changes but otherwise to come in as scheduled. I ask her what the appointment on the 13th is for. She doesn’t know, and suggests I call the RAH.

Wednesday 6th April

I get home from work to find my partner, Alison, looking a little upset. It turns out that she got talking to a girl in her work who explains that her dad had a terrible time with NHS treatment of his cancer. Apparently appointments kept getting screwed up and things weren’t getting dealt with. He had to constantly chase things up and he was at one point told his condition was treatable but then subsequently told there was nothing that could be done. He eventually died of his cancer.

This sounds a bit like my situation. I feel that the RAH just offloaded me but the Beatson felt like I should have turned up knowing the full extent of my condition along with the results of a biopsy and a CT scan, ready for me to begin treatment.

The similarity between many of her work colleague’s experiences and mine are unnerving. She has planted the idea in Alison’s head that I my prognosis will be downgraded to terminal in my upcoming appointment.

To add to this she goes on about how it does get better – clearly referring to my imminent death and then to make matters worse another colleague who lost her partner to skin cancer 10 years ago explains that it is something you never get over and that she still cries for him every day. Misery clearly loves company.

Thursday 7th April.

It’s the day of my CT scan. I’m going on my own and I head out slightly later than I should have and I get there just by the skin of my teeth. I am reading a book on alkaline detox in the common belief that balancing pH helps to fight cancer.

When I go for my scan I thankfully don’t have to strip. I just need to remove my upper clothing and put on a robe and just pull my trousers down around my thighs. The machine is a big doughnut / polo mint shaped machine and I am injected with some kind of dye. As warned by one the technicians I feel like I am peeing myself.

It’s a mixed day. I have a few hours to kill after my appointment and I head over to Braehead shopping centre where I have a soya latte, wander aimlessly, thinking and pondering. The sun is out, the sky is blue and I am in a reasonably relaxed and contemplative mood. I have an early lunch in the cafe at M&S and I have one of the tastiest vegan meals I’ve ever had accompanied by a wee tub of pineapple cubes.

I’m pondering this issue of pH and cancer and on my phone I look this up on the internet. It looks like there is some truth in it but the reality is far more complex. Some people suggest that it’s all bullshit as even the smallest variance from optimal pH (7.35) will put someone in hospital. I feel the benefits of the aimless wander but also the element of doubt I feel in something that I hoped was a strong weapon in my fight against cancer.

Friday 8th April

I wake up feeling fairly okay but as the morning continues on I started to feel really exhausted. By the time the end of my shift I feel ready to drop and I find myself wondering if I will be able to manage the 10 minute walk home. It crosses my mind that the CT scan and/or the dye they injected me with have had an adverse effect.

I do manage to make it home and I have another go at calling the RAH. I get through to the relevant person at the RAH to explain what my appointment on the 13th is. It is explained to me that it is a preparatory appointment to explain what will happen at my biopsy. It’s called a pre-TRUS. TRUS stands for Transrectal Ultrasound.

Alison is still a bit down because of the stupidity and insensitivity of her work colleagues and I don’t know how to bring her back up again. I have to go out and I know that if I leave her alone she’ll sink further and further. I can only think to do what I do for myself to bring myself out of a slump of negativity and doubt. I reach for the science. I tell her a few things I read in The China Study and she perks up considerably. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Saturday 9th April

I wake up feeling okay. If it was the CT scan and the dye that made me feel ill it looks like I’ve got over it.

Me and Alison go to Kilmarnock and as is our habit I go for a Costa coffee (soya of course) while Alison visits the local pound shops. While I have my coffee I am reading The China Study it strikes me to look up prostate in it and I have no idea why I never thought of that before. What I read leaves me wondering why over four appointments with three doctors not one of them asked me if I drink a lot of milk or advise me to stop drinking it. I feel excited by the fact that there are more facts and options regarding this than what the doctors know about or understand.

Alison has been coming out of her slump a little but the anxiety is still there. We go to the First Edition pub (soft drinks for me of course) and while Alison is at the loo I read some more. It is exciting stuff. When it is my turn to go to the loo I give her the book and open it at the page on prostate cancer. To give her a bit of time to read I sit out in the beer garden and wait.

When I return she is still reading the book and she is shaking her head. I feel nervous. She is speaking quietly as she shakes her head and I think she is saying “Dire. Dire.” and I wonder if there is something in there that is really negative that I should have spotted.

As I sit down she clarifies: “Diet. Diet.” is what she is saying, “It’s all diet.”

My ploy works. She looks like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders and for the rest of the day she is upbeat and very, very positive and hopeful. I love that book.

Tuesday 12th April

After my traumatic previous visit to the Beatson I’m finally back for an update and to find out what’s happening with my treatment plan. So far I’ve had a CT scan but no biopsy so I’m not sure if they can proceed.

My dad takes me in and when I arrive and hand over the paperwork the nurse asks him if he has been having chemo. She looks surprised when I say that it’s not him and that it’s me.

She takes me away and weighs me. My weight is down from the 93kg when I had my nuclear medicine test to 86kg. That’s about 13 stone, 8 lbs. I explain to the nurse that I’ve dropped 7kg in the past couple of months but that’s because I’ve cut out junk food, sugar, alcohol, etc.

It’s a different doctor this time as the doctor who will be treating me is on holiday. I’ve seen her a few times on Facebook out canvassing for the Scottish Green Party. As a long time member of the Scottish Greens I really like that my doctor appears to have the same green values that I have.

However for this visit my doctor explains to me that my CT scan showed swelling in lymph nodes in my abdomen and around my mid-riff. There is also some swelling in one kidney. However my kidney function seems to be okay.

Something was spotted around my lower right lung that they weren’t sure about but I explain that I had a lung lobectomy due to a large pulmonary cyst 16 years previously. The doctor seems satisfied that this explains it.

Now that we have more information I ask the obligatory question about life expectancy. As was the case with my last visit to the Beatson the doctor looks a little perplexed by the question. I get that impression that there is very little data for people in my specific situation – at an advanced stage at such a relatively young age (49). Most data on the subject will be in regard to men in their sixties and over, who have other serious and/or chronic conditions. All he can say is that it will shorten my life expectancy. By how much he cannot tell.

Finally there’s just one more thing I want to know. Where is the cancer in my bones? The doctor calls up an email and I am horrified to find that it is in my skull, one place I really didn’t want it to be. But it’s also in my neck, spine, scapula, ribs, pelvis, femur and arm. Basically it would be easier to show where it’s not than where it is.

The doctor then tells me what comes next. He gives me a prescription to take  to the Beatson’s own pharmacy. He gives me paperwork for the phlebotomist so that I can give blood. I drop off my prescription at the pharmacy, go to give a blood sample, and then go back for my drugs.

Wednesday 13th April

It’s my pre-TRUS at the Royal Alexandria Hospital today. This is just a quick, preparatory explanation of what’s involved in my prostate biopsy. Nothing much to it. I turn up at Ward 28 and wait outside for a bit until a nurse appears and takes me into an office and explains the procedure. She gives me a bunch of paperwork including some notes to hand in at my GP’s office for them to put in my medical notes. I’m also given some antibiotics, one of which I have to take the night before and on the morning of the TRUS, continuing with them twice daily for 2 or three days.

Monday 18th April

It’s the day of my biopsy. Based on what I’ve read on the internet I’m expecting a needle or two up my arse but I’m choosing not to think about it too much.

I turn up at the Day Surgery unit at the RAH in Paisley and a nurse tells me to remove my trousers and underwear and to put on a robe. She asks a few questions to confirm my details and to confirm that I understand what procedure I am in for.

“I understand there’s a wee bit of swelling on your prostate that we have to investigate,” she tells me. I reply that I definitely have prostate cancer which has spread to my bones. She looks surprised and tells me that I appear to be very young for that. Once I am prepared, ready and waiting to go in I can hear a man behind a pulled curtain being asked the same questions that I was. He is in for a prostate biopsy too. However he sounds older than me and as they go through his medical history it sounds like he has more medical problems than me.

I get talking to him but before the conversation can get too far I am whisked off to get prodded and poked. I am pleased to see that the consultant performing the procedure is one I have had experience of from a small kidney stone I had a year and a half previously. He’s a very pleasant guy and doesn’t talk down to me (although so far none of them have despite my expectations). It’s just that this guy has a particularly pleasant manner.

He asks me if I have any questions and I joke that I have 10 million questions but the main one is that I want to know if anyone can give me a reasonable idea of life expectancy. He explains that he has patients who have been on nothing but hormone therapy for 10 years and have been doing well.

I ask him about diet and, as expected, he is cynical about any claims regarding diet. He says exercise is better and I ask if cycling is okay even though it’s reputed to raise PSA and cyclists are statistically high in prostate cancer diagnoses. He explains that the exercise benefits outweigh the risks.

I then go in for my biopsy. There are three nurses already in there in operating theatre scrubs. I expected this to be a bit less public but when the consultant asks me to lie on my left side with my knees raised to my chest he then puts a blanket over me. I can’t really tell but I suspect that my modesty has been protected.

A very cynical, jaded looking nurse sits in front of me and as the consultant asks me to relax everything (and from this I suspect he means my anus) this nurse starts making conversation. I grimace as I feel a finger going up my arse and I try to return the conversation. It’s not easy.

Then the doctor explains that he is going to insert the ultrasound device which will administer a small local anaesthetic. He explains that I will hear a click as it takes each biopsy sample. At least that’s vaguely how I remember what he was saying. The feeling of things going in and out of my arse were slightly distracting. It’s over quite quickly and is relatively painless. He takes four samples and I don’t feel the first two but the last two I can feel a slight nipping in my penis. Nothing major.

I feel slightly uncomfortable as the doctor applies some kind of lotion or substance to my arse crack and anus with his finger. All the time the nurse maintains that jaded, cynical look as though having no pity for anyone who gets upset over this, not having gone through childbirth perhaps?

I’m then taken back to the ward where I get dressed, have a cup of coffee and have a chat with the nurse who greeted me. Then I’m off home. As the anaesthetic wears off I can feel a minor sensitivity up my back passage but there’s no real discomfort.

Tuesday 19th April

I get home from work to find a letter from the hospital confirming my next appointment at the Beatson. I have barely read the letter and I get a phone call from the oncologist I saw on the 12th. He confirms that the biopsy showed a fairly ‘standard’ type of cancer and, perhaps remembering how happy I looked when he told me my PSA figure last time, he lets me know that my PSA is now down to 15.






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