After giving blood regularly for several years suddenly in Dec 96 my red cell count and blood pressure were found to be low. I donated blood again in March 97 with the same results. The only other symptom that indicated to me that there was anything wrong was that I was constantly getting tired. I put this down to excessive work load as I had a full time job as well as trying to run my own business from home.
My wife persuaded me to see my G.P. which I did on 14th March. My G.P. gave me a full examination and could not find anything major wrong and suggested a series of blood tests to see if that would reveal anything. We discussed prostate problems but as I was only 42 years old and had had no symptoms in that area it was just about to be washed over. But my G.P. said that a PSA test would rule it out for sure. The results of the blood tests two days later revealed a PSA of 11.7 . My G.P. then explained that there was a chance of prostate cancer as all the other blood tests returned normal. A DRE by my G.P. confirmed an enlarged prostate. An appointment was made to see a specialist ( Prof. K.Kaye ) of the QE 11 Medical Centre in Perth. Prof. Kaye is the top Urology Surgeon in WA and although "private" he does see some patients under the "public" medical system.
On the 8th May I saw Prof. Kaye and after another DRE we discussed what tests would be done to confirm that it was cancer and what the options would be after that.
On the 16th May I had a Trans-rectal biopsy done. This was quite painful during and for a while afterwards, but the next day all was fine. I experienced a small amount of blood loss as was expected but this cleared up within 24 hrs.
On the 21st May I had a Bone scan. This entailed having an injection of a radioactive isotope that collect around certain tissue to see if the cancer had reached the bone marrow. I was placed on a machine that had a tunnel like part, which was slowly moved up my body taking certain X-ray pictures. After the injection I had to drink lots of water to flush it all out of my system.
On the 28th May I had a CT Scan. This was similar to the bone scan except that instead of an injection I had to drink a load of this liquid which tasted very much like warm liquorice.
Another PSA test on the 29th May showed that my PSA had now reached 18.5.
On the 4th June I had another appointment with Prof. Kaye to discuss the results of the above tests. It was decided that I would have a radical prostatectomy due to my age. He then went on to explain all about the effects that it would have including impotence and possible incontinence.
As I did not have private medical cover I was told that I would have to wait a while before I could get a bed in public hospital. The date for the operation was set for the 30th Sept. He then decided that I start a course of Andrucur tablets. These tablets are to reduce the testosterone levels and therefore try to stop the growth of the cancer as it "feeds" on the testosterone.
There were a few side effect of these tablets, the worst being the mood swings and depression.. Several days all I wanted to do was burst into tears and to be left alone. This got the better of me and after about 6 weeks ( 4th Aug ) I stopped taking the tablets after contacting Prof. Kaye.
On the 13th Aug still very depressed, and in desperation my wife took me to visit my G.P. who prescribed some mild anti-depression tablets. I also had another PSA test. This time the result was 1.1. I queried why it was so low and was informed that this was the effect of the Andrucur. And that I could keep on taking it for a while if I wanted but due to the side effects, but I declined.
On the 1st Sept had a flexible cystoscope and a urine flow measurement. This was to enable the doctor to see all the way up into my bladder to make sure that all was OK.
This was quite uncomfortable for a while but as the day went by all returned to normal.
I also had to start giving my own blood for the operation. I had to donate one unit of blood every week for the next four weeks. This was OK for the first two visits but then my iron levels dropped and I had to start taking iron tablets and two bottles of Guiness a day to increase them.
On the 30th Sept I went to hospital and had the operation in the morning. I came round that evening with all these tubes and drips and a large dressing on my stomach.
The next day the nurses dragged me out of bed and showered me before trying to make walk around the room. Although I was in a public hospital, because of the severity of the operation they gave me a single room. This only lasted till the fourth day when they said that I was well enough to share a four bed ward. This was terrible compared to the single room, There was so much going on all night that I didn't get rest or sleep at all. The morphine drip lasted two days before it was taken away but the oxygen only for one day. I expected a lot of pain but I was suprised on how little there was. It was only when I laughed or tried to move that things hurt too much.
On the 6th Oct after 6 days they let me home to rest.
After being home for a few days I started losing blood through the catheter which I did not expect. My G.P. suggested that I go to the emergency dept at the hospital. After waiting down at the hospital for hours eventually the doctors decided that it was normal to expect this and that I should have been told. A few days later I had severe stomach cramps and pain. So much so that I was taken back to the hospital in an ambulance.
They gave me two sorts of X-Rays and some other test to see what was wrong.
The tests all came back normal so I waited another twelve hours to see an urologist who said that it was more than likely just trapped wind and would go shortly.
On the 15th Oct I had to go back to have the catheter removed. This was the part I was waiting for, one, to just get rid of the thing that dangled and caught on everything and, two, to see if I was continent. This was one of my biggest fears that I would not regain continence. After about 6 hours, barring a few minor dribbles all was well and I am pleased to say that even today all is still well.
On the 20th Nov I had a follow up visit to Prof. Kaye to discuss the operation results and my progress since. The bad news was that because of the high Gleason score of 9 he could not be sure that all the cancer was removed and the fact that the tumour was within 1 mm of the prostate shell was cause for concern. It was obvious from these results my prostate cancer was a lot worse than was first thought. We discussed further treatment in the form of injections, tablets and radiotherapy.
For the next six month I am to have a monthly injection of Lucrin Depot along with daily tablets of Flutamide.
At present I am under going treatment for impotence by the use of needles and injecting Prostaglandin . This after a few times has not proved to be 100% successful but I am to see another doctor on the 8th Jan to see what can be done. I think that with time and a slightly stronger dose things will be fine. While I realise that the injections are not to everyone's liking. Once you have done it once then there is nothing to it.
Update added 12 July 1998
14th Jan Another visit to the Reproductive Clinic. They decided that a further increase in dosage would be needed as I am only able to achieve about an 80% success. Another follow up visit was arranged for the 20th Jan.
19th Jan - Visited the Radiotherapy Unit. Watched a video on the use and effects of Radiotherapy. X-rays and a CT scan were taken in preparation for Radiotherapy treatment, I was tattooed with three small marks on my lower torso which will be used for future reference points during treatment. Discussed with the staff all aspects of the forth coming treatment and was given a booklet about the effects such as nausea, vomiting etc.
20th Jan - Visited the Reproduction Clinic again. This time the strength of the injections were increased and there was some improvement. Given a further dose to take home and try, asked to call back with results with a view to getting a script if all is good.
Contacted Reproduction clinic again on 22nd Jan and said that the latest injection was almost there but needs more. Picked up "double dose" to try. After trying this "double dose and finding that it still did not work properly we decided to give up on the self injection therapy.
As I was still having my monthly hormone injections, the next time I saw my GP we discussed the injection therapy again and came to the conclusion that I had a bad hormone imbalance due to the Flutamide tablets and the Lucrin Depot injections and these were affecting the prostaglandin injections. It was therefore best I except the situation and wait until early July when hopefully my hormones should start to get things together again. One positive side effect that I was noticing was that the bald spot on the top of my head was staring to grow again !
12th Mar.- Went and saw a specialist in impotence as things were starting to get frustrated. He advised me on all the different types of injection therapy that there was, but, as we explained to him they did not appear to work with me. He agreed that some did not work and that I should try "Caverject" once all my Radiotherapy had finished. As a last resort there was the option of a implant . He showed me the whole thing, I was very suprised at size of the whole thing but was assured that it would all fit in and that it could be done at a day surgery. I said that I would think it over and get back to him later. The cost of the operation and implant is approx $10,000 A$ but most of this is covered by private medical insurance after the qualifying time of 12 months. There is a small gap of approx $1800 to pay. The company that produce the implant have a web site at
20th April.- Visit to the Radiotherapy Unit for the first of 33 treatments ( 1 a day for the next seven weeks). This was not in the least bit painful. Just lay down on this huge bed of the X-ray like machine . The staff then position you accurately using the small tattoo marks that were done some time ago. You then just lay still while the machine rotates around you and pulses X-rays at you. The whole thing takes less than 5 mins from start to finish. You dont even need to get underdressed.
After about treatment 9 I started to get some stomach pains and general aches. The doctors at the hospital informed me that mild aches and pains were to be expected but to make sure they did a full urine test and gave me a course of some antibiotics and within a few days this cleared things up. The urine test results came back as normal so the stomach pains were thought to be a mild infection.
I still suffered the bouts of depression and some days it was so bad that I could not even be bothered to get up and go to work. I just kept on thinking that only a few more weeks to bash at and then it will all be over hopefully and my body should start to recover back to its normal self.
About treatment 16 I started with the stomach cramps again only this time I had the diarrhoea as well. I knew that this was one of the side affects but had hoped that it would not appear until later on in the treatment, at present I was not quite half way and still a long way to go. The doctors gave me a course of anti- diarrhoea tablets and I was told to watch my diet from now on and see what came about.
The tablets worked within a day and my stomach was back under a bit more control much to my surprise and relief. After a few days I was able to stop the tablets altogether. I was to need them again to wards the end of my treatment but only for a day or two which I did not mind that much.
By the time I reached treatment 24 I was feeling very tired indeed , everything was too much effort and all I wanted to do was sleep. I did still go to work but only for two days a week, and that was only Tuesdays and Thursdays ! My boss was very understanding in that he let me take as much time off work as needed and we would sort it all out at the end of it all.
28th May A six month check up with my Urology Surgeon Prof. Kaye. He went through all my notes and after a quick chat as to how thing are progressing with the Radiotherapy treatment he decided that we would meet again in another six months.
9th June Final day of Radiotherapy. A big milestone in my treatment of cancer. Hopefully this along with the hormone tablets and the hormone injections have killed off any remaining cells that were left behind after the operation. Only time will tell.
I have now to wait until the 22nd of July for another PSA test to see if all is OK and then a review by the Radiotherapist on the 5th Aug.
Its now the 8th July and I although I still feel a little tired I believe that that worst is now behind me and that from here on life must only get better. ( I could not have got much worse). I am now going to tackle the problems of Impotence, I would dearly love to try out the Viagra pill but as of yet it is not available in WA so I think that I shall have to try again with the injections but this time with Caverject.
Thank you for visiting our Web site, I welcome any suggestions for improvements, and am happy to correspond with anyone that has prostate cancer or their immediate family members. Messages may be sent to my email address.
Or you may like to contact Alan Bacon directly to discuss his experiences.
or visit Alan Bacon's Home Page
Have a happy day,