Excited by knowing the radioactive medicine reached my cancer cells
Twelve weeks on - a lot of sleep and inconvenient preoccupations

Prostate cancer - Conveniences and inconveniencies

My initial concerns welled from a need to spend too may pennies in the night. Eight years later the nocturnal calls persist, despite treatment. But at least the swelling of the gland that persists is probably down to age as much as the cancer. It just means planning journeys differently - where are the nearest conveniences? Never leave a pub or a restaurant without taking advantage. If you happen to be with guests, better to say your goodbyes and explain you need to make yourself 'comfortable' and that you may be a while. I learned the need to do that after a splendid lunch not long after my first course of treatment back in 2015, when I left a pal stranded in the foyer of a delightful hotel overlooking the entrance to Poole Harbour.

It is not just diminished control over your bladder you need to be aware of. But I had an eight-week course of conventional radiotherapy in October 2015, which resulted in peripheral damage to my colon - leaving it delicate and inflamed. My treatment started with hormone therapy targeted at my nuts to kill of my testosterone - which 'feeds' the prostate cancer. That was very successful with my prostate specific antigen dropping to near zero from 22 quite quickly. But that did not deal with the cancer cells. Surgery was ruled out due to spread. The recommended action was radiotherapy. That required tattoos - so small - I couldn't see them, but the radiologists could and used then to 'aim' the radiotherapy device at the infected area.

That treatment had a hilarious side. There was me - finding it difficult to maintain bladder control through the night, and I was asked to drink one-and-a half litres of water every morning, five days a week, for eight repeat eight weeks prior to being splayed on the treatment table for what seemed an eternity. Then it was a dash.....to avoid a splash. You might have thought that the conveniences were in the treatment suite. Unfortunately not, the facilities were designed for breast cancer treatment! So, the call of nature often involved a trot across the waiting area in scrubs before an audience of bewildered gazes.

A year later, a burning sensation developed in my colon and my GP referred me for a colonoscopy. The results showed nothing adverse other than an inflammation of the lower bowel known as 'Radiation proctitis' - not a pretty sight.

Screenshot 2022-09-12 at 17.48.29

But the doctors were satisfied that medically I needed no further treatment on that account. Just keep off foods that might irritate the bowel - not so many peanuts, poorly digested crisps and so on. (Nuts again!)

Learning to live with these inconveniences has been all part of a process for me of continuing to enjoy life, albeit differently. I don't want to trivialise them, but with brilliant NHS medical care, a large loving family and caring friends you can get through it. Tomorrow, joy of joys, I will be discharged from the health and safety requirements of my first dose of radioactive medicine and be able to give all my family and friends, including the grandchildren a hug.





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