Face your fears and get checked

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - CATRIN OWEN

Merv Stark thought he was in­vin­ci­ble un­til the day a biopsy con­firmed his worse fears.

He’d al­ready dealt with stom­ach can­cer back in 1999 and had been given the all-clear for more than a decade.

When the Auck­lan­der be­gan notic­ing prob­lems he thought he’d be fine, as three of his broth­ers had been di­ag­nosed and suc­cess­fully treated for en­larged prostate.

The first dig­i­tal ex­am­i­na­tion and blood tests seemed to af­firm that to be the case.

Af­ter 18 months of treat­ment to re­duce the size of the prostate he un­der­went a biopsy in June 2013 which con­firmed it was can­cer.

‘‘Sure, no one wants to hear that they have prostate can­cer but why let our egos and ma­cho im­age be a barrier to get­ting checks.‘‘

Once he was di­ag­nosed with can­cer and given the lim­ited op­tions for his treat­ment, Stark un­der­went a rad­i­cal prosta­te­c­tomy in Oc­to­ber 2013 to re­move the prostate how­ever he still needed an in­ten­sive course of on­col­ogy ra­di­a­tion.

Check-ups and blood tests con­firmed the op­er­a­tion and ra­di­a­tion had been suc­cess­ful and there was

Around 3000 Kiwi men di­ag­nosed ev­ery year.

1 in 10men will de­velop prostate can­cer in their lifetime.

Around 600 men die from prostate can­cer ev­ery year.

no de­tec­tion of can­cer.

‘‘But my man­hood took a se­ri­ous bash­ing - uri­nary in­con­ti­nence, erec­tile dys­func­tion and the crown jew­els ap­peared to have shrunk.’’

For Stark it has been the af­ter­math of can­cer and semi-re­tire­ment he’s strug­gled with.

‘‘I found it all very de­press­ing, to the point I was di­ag­nosed as hav­ing de­pres­sion.’’

But it hit home for Stark when his urol­o­gist told him he could’ve died if he hadn’t un­der­gone surgery.

‘‘But through all this, my pil­lar of strength and sup­port has been my wife and fam­ily.’’

Stark is tak­ing things a bit slower now but is want­ing to live and en­joy life de­spite some of the phys­i­cal chal­lenges.

‘‘We men just don’t want to hear that we might have prostate can­cer.’’

Go to prostate.org.nz/ for more in­for­ma­tion.

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