John's Story

The Perth father-of-three was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 44 and underwent a robotic prostatectomy.

“I had no symptoms, but prostate cancer runs in my family, my dad and uncle were both diagnosed. My mum asked me to get my prostate levels checked, and after quite a bit of nagging, I went to my GP and got the test. We decided to just keep an eye on it. It was a horrible time for us, it was the worst feeling … not knowing. I had a tumour inside my body, could I potentially die? There were many sleepless nights and worry. About five months later my PSA readings went through the roof – from a 3 to a 7, which is what you might find in a 70-year-old, as levels increase with age. For men my age, the average PSA is usually between 0 and 2.5.

“I wish I’d reached out more for support at the time. We were very private about it all and didn’t really tell anyone other than my parents and my wife’s mum. Looking back, it would have been better to have shared it with close friends and family, because I bottled up a lot of my feelings. We did tell our kids, who were eight, 12, and 14 at the time. They knew it was cancer, but we said we weren’t too worried about it as we were getting good medical advice. We tried to keep it as open and honest as we could, we didn’t want to worry them.

“At point of diagnosis the biopsy found the tumour was very small, at just .003cm, but when I went in for surgery they found another massive tumour, somewhere between 1-3cm. My surgeon said I had dodged a bullet – it was still contained within my prostate and hadn’t spread.

“Three years on, I have ongoing medication to treat some nerve damage, but it’s something I manage. We had a lot of support through PCFA, and Hollywood Hospital in Perth. I feel pretty lucky, things could have gone the other way. I could have decided not to do the surgery, or not to get my PSA level tested for a few more years. I thank my mum for nagging me. For any man who is hesitating to see a doctor, my message is simple: It could save your life. It’s just a blood test, so please get tested.”

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia



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