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Prostate Cancer

Living with prostate cancer

The initial diagnosis of prostate cancer was a devastating shock to most men (see 'How it affects you'). However, after the initial shock and emotional trauma, many men were able to lead fairly normal lives. Men were often able to continue working while they had their treatment, though some had to give up work when symptoms got worse, or because of stressful occupations. Fatigue, and the side effects of treatments, encouraged early retirement (see 'Side effects of treatments'). Some men took time off work to have a radical prostatectomy but returned to work once they had recovered from their surgery. Some men described continuing to enjoy many of their activities, including sports and travel. However, this was not always possible.
 
 

Explains that he continued to work quite normally after radiotherapy.

Explains that he continued to work quite normally after radiotherapy.

Age at interview: 69
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 67
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Anything else, any other side effects, did you feel tired after radiotherapy?

No I don't think so, I think tiredness comes with it if you're stressed up, I think that, it's just relief. No I didn't feel anything like that, I continued to work quite, quite normally.
 
 

Explains he could continue with an active life at first but was concerned that his GP knew little...

Explains he could continue with an active life at first but was concerned that his GP knew little...

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 59
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I was leading a very active life. I was playing golf, I was going to the health club and working out three times a week and I though, well okay it's not stopping me doing anything that I want to do, it's not so bad after all. The GPs I worked with kept reassuring me that, you know, it's probably slow growing, it probably won't affect you, you'll probably die of something else, all the things that I've since found GPs rely on to put patients at their ease, because I also found out that most GPs know very little about it. 

 

Explains how he found fatigue to be a pressing problem that started to affect his lifestyle.

Explains how he found fatigue to be a pressing problem that started to affect his lifestyle.

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 59
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The other big problem that I found throughout my illness is that you do get very fatigued, you get very tired from time to time, well particularly after the first 3 years. I found that I had to stop doing things, I found that I got too tired to play golf so I had to stop playing golf. I couldn't go to the health club any more, that was too tiring and I began to think at that stage well I'm deteriorating you know things are getting worse which I suppose they were because it was affecting, starting to affect my lifestyle.

Were you still working?

That was about the time that I decided to stop working, I was by then 63 years old.

 

Comments that he was amazed at his recovery after 4 months.

Comments that he was amazed at his recovery after 4 months.

Age at interview: 55
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 54
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And I'm doing quite a physical job all day long, and if I went back 5 months ago I thought I'd never work again but it's amazing how once you've turned that corner of about 4 or 5 months how you can recover from this operation. But, I must emphasise that in my case, I had more problems with my sciatica than I did with the operation. So it was an operation that I couldn't actually work, I think I could have done light duties if I'd have worked in an office, I could have done light duties but when it came to doing the garden I found it a little bit hard through stamina and all that. But after I started work now which was back in approximately the end of May I've, it's remarkable how I've made a recovery and I feel so fit now and I think the 6 months off has done me a world of good.

 

Describes his active lifestyle.

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Describes his active lifestyle.

Age at interview: 56
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 56
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My two particular sports at the moment are squash and running and I do both quite a lot. Since I was diagnosed it's been one of these ways, in a sense, of dealing with it; I don't feel ill and I don't choose to feel ill and so [laughs] I've actually wanted to if not actually train but exercise with rather more focus, and indeed to eat sensibly and to be sensible to perhaps a rather greater extent than I did before. 

The diagnosis of prostate cancer made men more aware of their own mortality. Some felt that it was important for their physical and mental welfare to try to continue as normal, while other men had reappraised their lives and decided to focus on quite different priorities,. The importance of staying active and living each day to the full was mentioned by many, even if previous activities could not be maintained because more rest was needed, or if symptoms were disruptive. Many men became active in support groups, making new friends in the process (see 'Support groups'). One man, who had chosen watchful waiting, and who thought that quality of life was more important than length of life, felt a certain sense of relief that he would not have to worry so much about his pension.
 
 

Explains how he tries to enjoy life as much as possible.

Explains how he tries to enjoy life as much as possible.

Age at interview: 71
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 68
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And often I think, well, ignorance is bliss - if you don't know, you're not worried. And I must confess I can't say that I am seriously worried now, it is something that comes on you in waves, you do have periods of depression when you think oh golly I've got this, am I going to sort of do this next year or not, and then you have to just put it in perspective and say well you are or you aren't, it's not in your hands, you don't have any choice you can only live your life as it is. And certainly the specialist did say to me right at the beginning 'Whatever you do don't stop doing anything.' So I didn't and I still play bowls 2 or 3 times a week which I thoroughly enjoy, I do my gardening, we go out, I enjoy life and I hope I'll keep on enjoying life a lot longer.

 

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.

Age at interview: 56
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 55
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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.

 

Describes how his outlook on life has changed.

Describes how his outlook on life has changed.

Age at interview: 63
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 56
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I suppose the thing is to meet it square on, accept the fact that there will be as many bonuses in meeting it and dealing with it as there will pitfalls of having to meet it and deal with it. From a life point of view it certainly changed my attitude and changed my outlook on life, for the better as far as I feel. Because things were very important to me, for all the wrong reasons years ago, are less significant these days, and the things that perhaps were less significant for me are very, very important. That's your family and the ability to say yes I'm still here, I'm still here to take part in whatever life is.

 

Describes how he lives for now rather than have concerns for the future.

Describes how he lives for now rather than have concerns for the future.

Age at interview: 57
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 56
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So has all this affected your view of the future at all, your whole philosophy of life?

Not a great deal, it's made me less worried about the fact that I haven't actually got very good pension provision because I've worked overseas much of my life and I work in a charity, or I've worked for charities of one sort or another and I haven't built up much pension so I suppose in a way that's a bit of a relief really you know I sort of recognise that I'm probably not going to be one of the statistical, one of the people who needs a statistical age expectancy for or above the statistical age expectancy for men. I actually work for a charity that works with older people and you know I mean I do see a lot of differences in the way people enjoy or otherwise their old age. So you know I'm quite, I'm quite sort of philosophical I suppose about having, I suppose I'm more interested in sort of good quality active living for as long as possible than say you know ending up may be sort of rather chronically ill so I suppose that does influence me a little bit yeah. But I cycle by the way and I also do yoga and both of those I think keep me reasonably mentally and physically fit, I think that's quite helpful.


 
 
Last reviewed July 2017.
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