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Interview 07

Age at interview: 56
Age at diagnosis: 55
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, prostatectomy in 1999.
Background:

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Comments that he sincerely hopes a cure is found.

Comments that he sincerely hopes a cure is found.

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Have you ever thought about what causes cancer, do you think certain groups are more vulnerable than others or, has it ever crossed your mind?

I would love to know - I haven't got a clue - the only information we've gleaned of any substance is that it does seem to go to some extent in families. I would suspect that my father has had problems in that direction, I'm sure he has but as he's an older man he's probably very wisely not taking it any further and I sincerely hope that by the time my son might get into vulnerable years there's a cure been found. But I've no idea whatsoever whether it was my diet or whether, whatever it was, I haven't any idea at all. I'd love to know if there is any information that comes out, if anyone ever discovers.

 

Describes how the bone scan caused him some anxiety.

Describes how the bone scan caused him some anxiety.

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I had to go in, I think about 11 in the morning to have an injection, some radioactive, I'm not too sure what it was but it was something that then subsequently would show up in the blood test. So I had to go and have the injection, go away for 2 or 3 hours and come back and have a full body scan. It was in those few hours I had a pub lunch with my parents which was surreal really, you were all trying to be jolly and keep each other going but it was a nice thing to have done, I'm glad we did it. 

And then I went with my wife back to the hospital to have the full scan, I think it took about 40 minutes, 20 minutes doing the top of me and 20 minutes doing underneath me, photographing everything. Then again of course you never know any of the results of anything. That funnily enough unnerved me more than anything because the nurse said, or the lady, the radiographer who did the pictures said 'I'll be with you in 5 minutes then you'll be able to go and I'll pass things on to your surgeon.' She obviously got delayed, it was more like 25 minutes till she came back to see me and somehow that built up, it's amazing how you suddenly lost your bottle and I did, I got very, very nervous in that time, thinking oh they've found this, they've done that, they want to have me back to do more things and anything, you're susceptible to anything unnerving you.

And the day had gone smoothly, the injection in the morning was fine, going off to have a meal with your wife and your parents, that was fine, everybody was very jolly and it all went well, had a nice meal but then suddenly you can lose your nerve. 

 

Explains that he had terrific support from good friends alongside his family.

Explains that he had terrific support from good friends alongside his family.

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We had an amazing amount of support from friends and family, that was an enormous bonus and I suppose on the sinister side and what worries you when you go off to hospital you worry like blazes about who's left at home whether it's your wife, whether it's your parents, whether it's your children or whatever, whoever you've left at home is your worry and I was incredibly heartened with the amount of support they got and you did feel that if this doesn't go the right way at last they've got plenty of support.

From friends and?

From friends and family yeah really terrifically good friends really came up, really came up trumps and that was very, very heartening.

 

Describes his initial actions after being told.

Describes his initial actions after being told.

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It was nerve-wracking, everything went through your head. On the drive home from the hospital to home which is only about half an hour after being told what the surgeon thought it was you were going through, have you made your will, how is your wife going to cope financially, what have you done with the kids, should you do this, have you done that and that was morbid and you did begin to think all these things, you couldn't help it. And I just remember driving incredibly slowly thinking that you know I can beat the cancer but don't go stupid and forget how you're driving or come off the road because you're not thinking straight.

 

Comments on how he feels even closer to his wife and has a positive outlook.

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Comments on how he feels even closer to his wife and has a positive outlook.

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In fact somehow you adapt, we've had many more cuddles and it's almost, it brings you closer together the whole operation, the whole problem and the whole trauma of going through it all has changed your perspective about what you might do at work, when you might retire, what you might do in the way of holidays what you might spend your money on, what you might do in your social time. Even though the prospects for me are now extremely good you still realise you've had a scare and decide that you're not going to pussyfoot around and you make the most of it because you just don't know what's round the corner. So it's, if it's possible it's given us more pleasure in a way because we're determined to do things that we might have delayed doing otherwise, whether it be putting on an extension or having a nice holiday abroad or whatever your hobbies and job or pastimes are. You want to make sure you do the thing, and don't just put it off, and say 'Oh we'll go to the Lake District or South of France', whatever you want to do, do it, sooner

That's been a really positive

It's been a very positive, yeah it has.

 

Comments on how he found the catheter most uncomfortable.

Comments on how he found the catheter most uncomfortable.

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The catheter I didn't find at all comfortable - I never really got used to it. It didn't get blocked but I did get a slight bladder infection which made it extremely tender, in fact all the way through there was cream that they would put on the tip of my penis but it didn't really have much effect. I did find the one irritant, the one so sore that I had to move terribly gingerly because it was extraordinary sore and when I was out of hospital and doing a bit more moving around it was uncomfortable. I think most people would probably find they've got through it alright, it was only because I developed a bladder infection that made it smart. 

 

Describes his experience of the Radical Prostatectomy.

Describes his experience of the Radical Prostatectomy.

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Going into the operation, I just wanted to get on with it, I just did not want to waste another hour really, just get down on that operating table and get it done. I think that was 4 o clock ish I can't remember, the next thing I knew, I think I had a total of 10 tubes going in or coming out or doing something useful, 10 tubes in me and I was in what they call the high dependency unit for 2 days where I really had very close one to one monitoring indeed which was very reassuring and I was sufficiently doped up, but I wasn't in any pain at all, uncomfortable at times yes but not in any pain.

So that wasn't a difficult time and I think 2 days, on the second morning, not the first morning after the op the night before but the next one after that I was offered did I want a bed bath. And I think the nurse, she was a middle aged nurse who had been an army nurse and she said 'Do you want a really strong bed bath?' I said 'Oh yes I feel filthy,' and at 5 o clock in the morning just a few days before Christmas I had the best wash I've ever had in my life (laughs) it felt wonderful, absolutely marvellous. So she sorted me out and a few hours after that I was out of the high dependency and into a room where a nurse was designated to look after me for the next day. And as the days went on the tubes came out and life became a bit more comfortable. And by the time, I was in hospital one week, came Christmas Eve, I was down to, from 10 tubes on the first night down to just the catheter and a tube coming out of a, to a waste bag, I forget what they call them.

A drain?

Yes a drain, taking the rubbish from where the wound, where the operation, that's right a drain, so I had the drain in just taking a bit of rubbish out from the op.

So the experience in hospital was good?

Yes it was, everybody was so, and especially of course when the surgeon came in on the 5th or 6th night and said 'The prostate is, we've caught it in time, it's been,' he said they carve it up and it hasn't reached the outer zone so you're not even in the margin area, it was all central. So that of course made you, you didn't mind how much discomfort you were in at that stage you were basically being told that you hadn't got it in your bones, you hadn't got it, they'd taken out the lymph nodes surrounding the prostate it wasn't there, it was contained all within the prostate. So at that stage he was delighted but that it looked as if it had been a complete success and caught in time and no further problems. But of course it was very uncomfortable for the first month, especially with the catheter and I got an infection in the wound and I got a bladder infection and those were quite uncomfortable but you don't mind that, once you've been told that it's all, you're in the clear. But it was pretty uncomfortable the month, as you no longer had an epidural which I'd had very, very good monitoring by the anaesthetist and the epidural certainly kept me very comfortable in hospital.

So you had an epidural before the operation?

No I think, I don't think I had, no I think that went in whilst I was under the general anaesthetic, I believe that I went in for the operation and the first things they did were fix up things like the epidural and a few tubes here and there and then I was into the surgeon. I was shaved by him, often I think before the nurse or someone else shaves you but he actually wanted to do his own shaving, get it absolutely where he wanted it (laughs) and the scar now 9 months on or so is rather disappointingly fading so I haven't got anything to show off. But it was the first month was quite uncomfy but we had very good, the nurse, the Distric
 

Comments on the use of Viagra and his dislike of MUSE after a radical prostatectomy.

Comments on the use of Viagra and his dislike of MUSE after a radical prostatectomy.

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Impotence I am impotent, we are now 9 months on and things have not really changed at all. I've tried Viagra, low dose Viagra, higher dose, and it makes not the slightest, I don't notice I've taken it, nothing happens anywhere, I don't get headaches or flushing or an erection, nothing happens.

Was that easy to get from the GP?

Yes, as soon as I explained what I'd had, that was immediate, there were no quibbles at all. 

Because one person said he wasn't sure if he could ask for it so...?

No there was no problem at all, I went, well I went back and said what did he suggest, I said 'I've got this impotence, I've had this operation,' and this wasn't the doctor who originally I saw, but it was at the same practice. And he looked up my notes and said 'Yes well if you've had that operation you are certainly entitled to try Viagra and that is the thing you ought to try first.' I don't know whether I could go up to a higher dose but as it made not the slightest effect on the second dosage there seemed no point in pursuing that. We've been fairly relaxed about it, although it would be lovely to get back to normal. There is still a sensation there although you don't get the erection, it's a very strange feeling. All sort of sexual feelings and lust or whatever are exactly the same, the only difference is and it may be a fairly major one but the only difference is you don't get an erection. You even feel as if you are coming as well sometimes which is very odd without an erection but it is a very strange thing. So it's disappointing but it's not a tragedy. I've also more recently been back and said the Viagra doesn't seem to be doing very much or hasn't done a thing for me. And I have gone on to another one called Muse, I don't know what Muse, MUSE stands for, but the prospect of putting this potion up your penis with a little adapter seemed so unpleasant that I haven't used it (laughs) so I've not done it. But it's still in the fridge waiting for action.

I haven't heard about that one yet.

Oh it's, I think the idea of doing is likely to put you off having any erection anyway. It's the most, it seems a most unpleasant way of doing things, I think I'd rather just stay as I am than try the Muse. But apparently it works in a very different way and it is a liquid that is put some inches inside, you insert it inside your penis and fairly soon that ought to give you an erection if it's going to work it works quite quickly. But for me the prospect of getting it where it ought to go is so unpleasant that I can't bring myself to do it. I have tried.

 

Compares watchful waiting to na've ignorance.

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Compares watchful waiting to na've ignorance.

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Did the surgeon ever give you the option of doing nothing?

I suppose we could've said we'd rather bury our head in the sands. I think he would've given us, he was the sort of chap who'd have given us a monumental lecture and quite rightly if we had decided that we just couldn't face it [a radical prostatectomy], and if I was may be you know terribly scared of theatres or whatever I don't know. Luckily we were both absolutely in agreement that we wanted to get on with it, but no I think he would have given us a severe ticking off if we'd prevaricated and he would've told us.

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