I had noticed a need to get up more frequently to urinate during the night. Having just turned 51 I was reasonably sure this was purely age related but mentioned it to my GP.
I had no other symptoms.
I was referred to a urologist who sent me for an MRI and biopsy, after which I was diagnosed with a rare variant of prostate cancer known as poorly differentiated neuroendocrine small cell carcinoma. I was referred to an oncologist who told me the cancer was rare and aggressive. PET scans showed the cancer had spread to my iliac bone, abdominal lymph nodes and lymph nodes in my chest and neck. I was told without treatment they would expect I would die of the disease within 2 to 4 months. I was told my worst case scenario was that the cancer was too aggressive or unresponsive to the treatment in which case the oncologist believed I would have a similar life expectancy.
Within a week of this conversation, I had started chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. The treatments took a toll on me physically and mentally. I lost my hair, gained 7kgs very quickly and had a bloated, jaundice appearance. I lost confidence feeling like everyone could see I looked sick. Such a poor prognosis was difficult to accept and combined with the emotional fluctuations caused by hormone therapy I struggled to enjoy the time I did have.
I was referred to Restore Oncology Care and Lymphodema Clinic for cancer rehab. The PINC & STEEL Oncology Clinicians understood the effects that the treatment had on my strength, endurance and stamina and they structured my exercise rehab accordingly. After an a few 1:1 sessions I joined a targeted group class, which I was able to access through the Dry July funding. The classes made me feel like I was making positive decisions for my health rather than being dictated to by the disease or the treatment side effects. I felt a big improvement in my self-confidence and my mental health after starting exercise. I also found I was better able to tolerate the side effects of the therapies. I also enjoyed the social aspect of training with the group regularly. It was also a great help to be able to access these funded classes without the financial stress and burden, at an already difficult time.
I am currently at 7 months since my biopsy and my most recent scans are encouraging. I look forward to my future and thanks to the help I received from Restore’s PINC & STEEL certified cancer rehab therapists, I am certain exercise will be an important part of that future.