Getting tested can save your life
Early detection key to surviving prostate cancer
My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the young age of 52, and the only reason he received this diagnosis was that he was very proactive in taking care of his health. His own father died of prostate cancer at the age of 80 but it was only discovered at the very late stage, as the older gentleman dismissed early warning signs and just did not take an active role in looking after himself. It was a slow and miserable death that certainly took its toll on my husband’s father and all his family members.
A family doctor recommended to my husband that he should get his PSA ( prostate-specific-antigen) checked every year as soon as he turned 40, as there was now a family history of this disease. My husband did just that, and the PSA blood test was just another test in his annual check-up.
I was very proud of my husband for taking such a proactive approach, as it showed he was responsible to himself and to his family to keep himself healthy. Incidentally, just a few months prior to our wedding in 2003, my husband’s PSA count doubled in a short period of time and this made a trip to an urologist necessary to get a digital rectal examination (DRE). This confirmed the presence of a lump and a few weeks later he was getting a biopsy. The result of the first biopsy was inconclusive and an appointment for another biopsy was made for three months down the road.
We went on with our wedding, but this was on our minds. The second biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer and just three months after our wedding, we prepared as a team for my husband’s surgery. We were lucky that we did not have to wait long after the diagnosis to have his surgery. And we knew we were correct in being proactive with my husband’s health and his check-ups as the pathologist’s report stated this was an aggressive type of cancer.
Many of our friends and family were surprised to find out about the cancer as my husband looked very healthy and he was not experiencing any symptoms.
In our experiences with dealing with prostate cancer survivors in the support groups, many men said they did not feel sick and they felt the way they always did. It was through the PSA’s and eventual DRE’s that the prostate cancer was discovered.
It is very unfortunate that some prominent physicians do not believe in screening for prostate cancer, as I know from our personal experience, the ‘ headin-the-sand” approach is not effective. If we had followed this advice, it is very possible that this letter could now be written from a widow instead of a very happy and grateful wife who is celebrating eight years of wedded bliss and, in October, eight years of cancer-free life for her husband.
The message that is being delivered very loudly and clearly by most in the medical field is that early detection is the key to surviving this dreaded disease.
Going through prostate cancer is not ‘a walk in the park’ as it does often make the patient uncomfortable with pain afterwards, wearing a catheter, experiencing incontinence, and maybe having some sexual side effects as well. Some of these problems last for a short time and some may require some medical follow up. There may also be some follow up chemotherapy and/ or radiation treatment.
I am very proud to say my husband is back 100 per cent, and I am very confident in saying it is through being in charge of your own health and having the good sense to look after all avenues of your health that this was made possible.
After our experiences, my husband and I always tell our male friends to get tested, and that is the first step in early detection.
To anyone whose family doctor downplays the importance of prostate cancer testing, I strongly urge them to follow my husband’s example and insist on getting a PSA blood test done. It can save your life, and I am so happy that it saved my husband’s. Patti Collins Yetman