Last Updated on October 11, 2020 by Max
Prostate cancer is one of the most common and fortunately the most curable tumor of men. Early diagnosis of the cancer is the key player in the effectiveness of the cure affecting the quality of life, longevity following the treatment, and the ultimate verdict: hopeful or hopeless. This is a message from Keith Rickman, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago and passed the treatment from the very beginning to the end. The message is to those men who are potentially at risk, to their wives, partners, sisters, daughters, to everyone who loves them. Do not let the fear of cancer diagnosis, daily hassle, and false hope to take away your loved ones.
The message consists of three parts, connected with each other naturally and guiding you through all the channels of prostate cancer diagnosis and its treatment.
Please, share this message; it will save someone’s life.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Where did this journey start?
I suppose really you could trace the start of my prostate cancer journey back to when I worked for a very large global organization called American Express. It is not to blame them in any way for what’s happened but to perhaps illustrate what happens when you retire or you change companies from one which pays for all of your medical requirements to one which doesn’t. I did 19 years with American Express who joined me into BUPA, and we had regular checkups every two years to find out if there was anything wrong with us. This was, of course, known as the MOT and you would take possibly a half day or a day off to go to the BUPA offices and get a full checkup. The report would come along a couple of weeks later if you were lucky and HR would then meet with you to make sure that everything was okay for you to continue. I did this for many years and then came the day when I left American Express and joined another company who did the same, and after two years there I retired and went to Australia. Medical costs there were very high, but we muddled along. I had a hernia in Australia and partly paid for the hospitalization.
Then came two years in Oman where the company paid for most of my medical.
So you can see the trend can’t you, someone else is paying, so you get check-ups.
Then came the day when I really retired, and we moved to Cyprus. Here medical insurance is not possible so we pay for it out of our pocket – which I must stress is our choice.
Cost of medical here is extremely reasonable when compared to going private in the UK. So this was a very inexpensive way forward. I had another hernia, and then I had face cancer and getting these dealt with was not a problem in terms of the cost and the Hospital treatment was outstanding, in a very modern (just opened) Hospital with all the latest equipment.
I had some check-ups with our local Doctor (great guy) when we originally came to Cyprus, and as a result, was walking a lot more (at least 10,000 steps per day) and controlling my weight.
Problem with going for a full checkup?
Fast forward to 2018 which is about eight years since I had a full checkup.
So you say, what was the problem with getting a full MOT. That’s an interesting question because my wife had mentioned this on many occasions, and she had Breast cancer from which she has recovered, and we are forever grateful.
So again what was stopping me getting a full MOT?
Was it the cost – no because medical facilities here as we have said already are very reasonable.
Was it the fear of the hospital, which we knew well because I had been there for my hernia and also for my face cancer. No, absolutely not.
Was it the fear of going through some treatment – no because I had done this twice already right?
So what then – well it is difficult to pin it down.
One thing that didn’t help was the fact that my half brother had died from prostate cancer earlier – a couple of years before my trip to the hospital.
Until he had that I did not pay any attention to Prostate Cancer, never entered my head – simple really. Then you realize it is closer to home than you think. This also hit my wife; there is a twice increase in the possibility of getting it if a sibling has it – so yes this is a factor.
I did hear that some men are afraid of the treatment you get. Read on to parts 2 and 3 of my story to settle that one!.
So there was some fear of what they might find, and as time went on this did get worse – what if there is something, okay let’s not go then.
And then comes the crunch!
So we head down the year of 2018 and my lovely wife of 53 years sees an advert that the Hospital has a deal for a full MOT. Now I had seen these before and managed to skirt around them as they are for a limited time and then the full cost kicks in.
This time Sheila said GO, okay!
Now I love my wife dearly and not surprisingly I know when enough is enough- so I went and booked a full MOT. Didn’t have to wait more then two days, in fact, they would have done it there and then if I hadn’t had anything else on.
How did I feel about this – you know, your going and it’s booked?
Strange to say of course it was not a problem anymore because it was done. I think the problem otherwise is that you never get round to doing it for ages as you can find all types of excuses you can as I have shown it is easy to do over the years and I managed to get out of it.
This strategy is actually silly, to say the least because if you catch prostate cancer early and it hasn’t left your prostate to go anywhere else, you have a perfect chance of a full recovery or at least management of it for the rest of your life. So it is stupid to leave it because there is a possibility ( not a certainty) if you do have prostate cancer that it might have progressed elsewhere as was the case with my half brother.
The other thing is that there are no symptoms really. I used to think that it was only there if you couldn’t pee when you went to the toilet, and I clung to this for years. Silly me you say!
There are no apparent links to any preventable factors – which means that you cannot definitively say if you have this or that you might get Prostate Cancer – nope doesn’t work that way.
Despite colossal research there is no real evidence of the risk factors for Prostate Cancer – this means that you can’t say if I don’t eat Cornish pasties I won’t get Prostate Cancer – sorry Cornish pastie makers, I love them and you all!.
My son who is a Professor Of Orthopaedics told us a long time ago that most men may have prostate cancer but it is the slowest growing cancer and you will more than likely die of something else before the Prostate cancer gets you.
So at this stage, I cannot see why anyone would not want to go and get tested for it – except that I know at least one person who didn’t and was diagnosed with it (me) – ouch!
Once you are diagnosed with it you tend to look at all the information going, and one of these is of course statistics – we are trying to justify our reluctance aren’t we?
Statistics vary by country oddly enough or not so as the UK ones can be used in anything I write as long as I attribute them then I will use these – they are 2015/2016 but tell the story ok.
I am not going to give you a lot of stats as it may not interest you much.
These few lines say it all for me.
A survey of 1,900 men found:
- 92% were clueless about the prostate gland’s role.
- 54% did not know where it was.
- 17% did not know they had a prostate.
Prostate Cancer UK chief executive Angela Culhane told the BBC News website: “Men are very ignorant about prostate cancer and it’s dangerous because it is the most common cancer in men.
“The things it does affect – ejaculation and sexual function, urine flow, and incontinence – are not regularly talked about over the dinner table or in the pub.” BBC News UK
There is your problem – talking about it – we men don’t.
And the other stats are:
Prostate cancer deaths overtake those from breast cancer – 2/2018. Having been closely involved with my wife’s breast cancer, this is a staggering statistic. Never mind the arguments over better funding for breast cancer etc., this is a staggering fact. Bowel and lung cancers are the only ones more prevalent – can you imagine this?
So we don’t talk about it because it is not a mans talk thing, we often don’t know anything about it, so we ignore it – DUH!
So how to raise awareness?
Right – If you are a man reading this, I now ask you to pass it to your loved one, partner, wife, sister – you know the feminine ones you hang out with.
So, Ladies, I am asking you to get the message across to your man, like my wife did, please.
Try the direct approach – you know – it would be good for you to go darling – and expect the same result my wife got.
Stage 2 choose any one of these!
- Nag him.
- Shout at him.
- Cajole him.
- His favorite food is off the menu at home.
- Do your own washing from now on (maybe he does anyway).
- Tell him no more sex till he goes to be tested.
- No more trips to the pub either.
Do anything else you need to do BUT get him to go, please!!!
Then you can tell him what a lovely puppy he is for going after the fact, make a fuss of him.
Then you can brag in the supermarket that your man has gone and been tested – has your Mildred?
Then you won’t have to worry about whether he has it or not will you-you will know for sure as mine did.
So back to the men thing then. (If he is still there will you please hand it back to him, thanks).
What happens at the MOT?
Let’s skip all the other bits like a chest x-ray, heart monitoring, diet, BMI, weight, height, and all these good things, and just remember that at the start you gave a sample of blood okay.
So I went through all the above and at the end of the day went to see the Chief Doctor at the hospital for THE RESULTS!!! Da da da da…..(drum roll)
Sat there like a little school kid. The Doctor was fantastic. Went through all the results and discussed my activity daily (you know when the dogs take me for walkies) and he said Mr. Rickman you are in good shape. Two things happened as he said this. Firstly the sub-millisecond brain response – YES!!!, then the next brain sub-millisecond response as he told BUT and flicked through the report until he came to a certain page. He then continued – the only thing is that your PSA score is quite high. My reaction was – what does that mean, and he explained that it was 9.5 instead of 4.0 or below and this could mean many things. So, of course, I asked the stupid question – does that mean it is cancer then, stupid because he could not possibly tell at this stage.
So next step – treat it as a possible infection of the prostate and see what happens.
Also, an internal inspection. WHAT !!!
Testing for an enlarged prostate.
Okay now here is the first thing that men don’t like to think of – an internal inspection, of the rectum (bum channel in case you don’t recognize rectum). Our wives and partners (female) go through this many times in their lives with inspections re children etc. Why do we men make such a big fuss over it? Thirty seconds it takes between dropping your pants (make sure they are clean by the way) and pulling them up again. Is it uncomfortable – not at all.
The result is instantaneous – in my case – your prostate is not enlarged.
Exclude a prostate infection.
So to rule out an infection, we go to antibiotics for two weeks and then another PSA test.
This was whilst we were going to be away in the UK for a wedding which merely meant making sure to take the tablets and not too much alcohol. Didn’t tell many people we were doing this as it still could be nothing.
Back home we go for another PSA test, and this time it is slightly higher, so it wasn’t just an infection then. Still not worried at this stage because I was gaining confidence in the Doctors who were explaining everything to me, just as hopefully I am to you the reader. The majority of elevated PSA tests are not Cancer.
Now we get to the next stage which is a biopsy to see what state my prostate is in.
Okay, how is this done? Well, what they do is to use a gun to fire into the prostate small sample collectors for want of a better word. Twelve samples will be required. Will it hurt (my pain threshold is low – to confirm-ask my wife), and the answer is no.
Okay – booked in for the biopsy after about a week, so not a lot of time to think about it.
Then comes the day – clean pair of pants again chaps!
I was a little apprehensive – not about any results because by this time what will be will be right? I was more anxious about any pain!
So into this room with Doctors and Nurses (yes female nurses guys, ok). I stripped down to only a gown. Lay on the bed with my face to the wall away from the Doctors and Nurses.
Then the gown is raised up to reveal my beautiful bum! At this stage, no thoughts about any of that, just will it hurt? Then the Doctor talks me through the first sample collection. Didn’t feel a thing at all (no anesthetic by the way) and then I heard a click. I (stupid me) thought this was getting ready to fire the gun. No, it was the gun firing and the sample collected. That’s number 1 Mr. Rickman just 11 to go. Boy am I elated at that – NO pain. Go for it lets count the sample clicks!
Okay enough of the melodramatics – the point is here that there is no pain and no embarrassment- I was looking at the wall remember?
Okay so we got that over, and now there is a two weeks wait for the results.
In Part 2 I will go through these and the steps from there on – see you then!
Oh my, I learned a lot from reading this article. I know I’m young but I’m trying to prioritize my health more now because although I AM young, I understand that time isn’t slowing down. I believe this article will be really helpful not just for me, but for all the other men out there who may not be aware of all the moving parts in the body. Excellently written and very informative!
Thank you very much – appreciated.
I have always tried my best to guide against postrate cancer because I have alot about the topic and I know how dangerous it is and its effect to men generally. The fact that you shared a personal experience is eye catching for me and I learnt alot from the writeup.Thank you for this live changer sensitization..
Thank you for your comment and you are most welcome.
I must say, the writer’s imagination helped me feel relaxed about a subject I’m not so open to. As a man, I also would feel embarrassed to have an inspection of my rectum area. However, I believe you are doing a good job in spreading the message, I really enjoyed this dialogue about prostrate cancer, and I can’t wait to read the concluding part of the article. I do hope prostrate cancer is easy to treat, or at least manage.
Thanks very much for your comment. I will get the next parts of my journey out as soon as possible, and I think you will find it is relatively easy to manage, based on my cancer being contained so far in my prostate.
I think you have given the reason most people are reluctant to get screened or tested, cost. It isn’t just about the cost of getting screened but all the other costs that could follow if there is a diagnosis. The cost of doing nothing if far worse and of course fatal. But if cost is at the fore front of someone’s thinking it opens the door to make excuses and to put off what needs to be done I am surprised that you said that there were no symptoms, I would expect something to be unusual.
Thanks for your comment – appreciated. Looking back on the time when I was writing about in this article there were no symptoms at all, and after being tested with a PSA score of 9.5 I would have expected something. I did check with the Doctors at the time and they confirmed it is possible to have no symptoms. Thanks again.
Thanks for writing out this lovely article and I must say its a must for everyone to read and digest.This article is a charge up against cancer treatment. Regularly checkup should be a priority to us, our health is our wealth. I will stay around to learn more on this topic. Thanks for the awesome review. Best regards
Thank you very much for your lovely comment. I will be writing parts 2 and 3 quite soon to complete the story of my journey.
Helpful message review! Yes, Prostate cancer is one of the most common and fortunately the most curable tumor of men. Having read the message, I have come to question the value of PSA testing? Because I know of a man who currently I see his urologist every three to six months because of mildly elevated PSA which at age 50 PSA read 1.9 and at age 54 read 3.6 on two seperate exams three months apart this year. Research has shown that a doubling of PSA in three years is cause for concern. When tested last month his PSA had dropped to 2.6 . All three readings for PSA taken the same year. All to say that PSA is only a singular test and is helpful only in the context of other testing and professional interpretation which hopefully will be unbiased and have your best interest as the patient.
Thank you very much for your comment, appreciated. I had also read up on the PSA test and in my humble opinion it is really an indicator which shows a trend over time. I am now in the stage where I get regular PSA tests every three months and from this we (the Doctors really), get an indication of what is happening or not as the case may be. Hope this helps.
First of all, thank you for sharing all of this. As you said, the prostate is not a subject we men like to talk about. My father had prostate cancer and was treated with radiation. He also said there was no pain. Maybe a bit of discomfort, but for the most part no pain at all. I have a friend who is a doctor and his prostate cancer was much worse and needed to be fully removed. However, he too recovered. I think if we continue to spread the word, maybe we can get men to take action and save a lot of people through early detection. However, I’m not really the one to talk. I have never had any prostate check up. I”m 44 years old, at what age do you think men should start getting check ups?
Thank you very much for your comment – appreciated. As I am not a medical person I don’t have an official age to start check ups but I found this in a Healthline Article which I hope is useful
Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than 65).
Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
I will be writing parts 2 and 3 soon which will complete the journey so far. Again many thanks.
This is a really interesting article. The information is easily digestible and it goes to show that prostate cancer is really a terrifying yet caught early enough manageable problem. I hope this article is spread far and wide so that it may touch someone who needs to hear it. I know I needed to read more about this.
Thank you very much for your comment, appreciated. I will be writing parts 2 and 3 very soon to complete the story. Again many thanks, very encouraging.
Hi Keith, I am very intrigued by your experience with Prostate cancer and how men react when it comes to your overall health. You have a very humorous side in telling your story but all humour aside I think you are doing something very important in sharing this so that other men will take an active roll in caring better for there health.
My X has just recently gone through the removal of his prostate. Which was not at a very high level his reasoning was if it’s not working remove it. I personally believe he did the wrong thing. My belief is that the body has its own power to heal itself given the right treatment. Getting the right information from the beginning.
I will abstain from commenting too much until you finish writing your article because I would like to contribute. So if that is ok with you. I look forward to reading more of your story.
Hi Linda, thanks very much for your comment so far, really appreciated. That’s fine, I should finish parts 2 and 3 quite shortly and I do hope you will enjoy them as well as the serious side messages.
I appreciate the openness and honesty in this post and I think it is hugely advantageous that we, as a collective, are coming forth and having these candid discussions about men’s health, especially their prostates. As a Canadian, I am grateful for the health care that is available to me and it disheartens me to read that so many people go without the proper management or care of their physiologies because it is too expensive to do so. I feel like our health and our regulation are the most important aspects that we must manage in order to thrive and money being a barrier to receive that care seems like a fail in terms of our priorities for our humanity. I recently underwent a bio-energy healing for 4 consecutive days and the results have been very powerful. I think that maintaining health is about balance and empowering knowledge of oneself and the processes of the human body. I am pleased to read your article as it spreads awareness and can prove of value to anyone engaging in the content. I wish you and yours optimal health, happiness and well-being and will share this insightful post with friends and family. Thank you!
Hi Rebecca. Many thanks for your comments and I agree with you that we need to bring this topic into the open. If writing this blog just helps one man to go to be checked I will be delighted, but of course hoping for many more. Thanks again and good health at all times to you and yours also