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My Prostate Cancer Journey: Peter’s Story

Many of our LIHH community will know Peter, either through his work with the Men’s Group or from seeing him with a camera in hand at our parties and events.

For Men’s Health Month, Peter is sharing the story of his recent prostate cancer diagnosis and the journey he’s been on since.

Over to Peter…

“Just over a year ago, I felt a strange sensation in my lower right abdomen. I’ve always been pretty active and healthy and, at first, I wrote it off as a gym injury. However, although I changed my routine and tried to rest up, it didn’t go away. After a few weeks, I decided to make a GP appointment.

The GP had lots of questions. Was I peeing blood? No. Any blood in my stools? No. Then she asked if there was anything that felt a bit ‘different’. I admitted that I’d found it a little harder to pee. That answer was enough for her to refer me for blood tests. Following the results, I was referred for an MRI scan with a five week wait for results, followed by a CT scan and another wait. When I eventually got the CT scan results, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The oncology department and the consultant I saw were amazing. She told me I needed a biopsy to determine the severity of the cancer. I was also referred to Macmillan for support, who offered an incredible service. I had a biopsy - not the most pleasant of procedures, but not as bad as I’d expected - as well as a bone scan to see if the cancer had spread.

What followed was a really dark time. Waiting for results was nerve-wracking, and the powerful medication I was taking came with side effects of anxiety and depression. At this stage, I felt I couldn’t continue working and I went on long-term sick leave. I was overwhelmed with support from my work colleagues, and this was a great help in getting me through.

I spoke to the oncologist about the side-effects of the medication I’d been taking and I was given an alternative in the form of a slow-release implant into my stomach. The anxiety and depression I’d been struggling with lifted, although they did give me a new side effect: hot flushes.

Some positive news at last - when the results from the biopsy and bone scan came back, I was told the cancer hadn’t spread. I was given the choice of radiotherapy, brachytherapy or prostate removal, and I decided on radiotherapy. I had to make this decision myself.

Six months after my first GP appointment, I started radiotherapy at St James’ Monday-Friday for four weeks. It was quick, painless and I soon found my routine. Thankfully, I didn’t have any side effects this time.

I was told they’d do a blood test at the end of November to see if I was in remission. I was very nervous waiting for the results - but the call came while I was on holiday and the news was good: remission, and my long-term prospects were very positive."

Peter's advice to anyone facing a similar situation:

Get checked out. I can't stress this enough. You know your body best, and you know what’s normal for you. If I’m completely honest, I probably put off going to the GP for a month. If I’d left it longer, things might have been different.

Only you can decide who you tell. I only told my wife and work until we got the news that the cancer was in remission. Other people may want to make their situation public sooner. It’s entirely up to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask about alternatives. I was really struggling with the first medication I was put on - the side effects were awful. After speaking to the oncologist, my medication was changed and things really improved.

It’s a mental journey as well as a physical one. Be prepared for emotional ups and downs - things can feel dark at times. Ask for help when you need it.

Get support. Macmillan are incredible, but there’s lots of help out there. You just have to seek it out.

More information:

Huge thanks to Peter for raising awareness by choosing to share his story.

1 Comment

Thanks for that insight and advice Peter. I wish you the best of health moving forward.

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