[ Alan's Prostate Cancer Page ]


(A speech given by Ann Scarrow at 1998 AGM of
the Prostate Awareness and Support Society (NZ) Inc)

[ Prostate Awareness Society ]

In sickness and in health, YES, we have heard it all before, many times at weddings when the vows have been taken.
When we were young we walked down the aisle and stood at the alter, this day had been planned for six months, the excitement is over-whelming, but had we really given life any thought.

It is all very fine when we are young, it does not cross our minds, when our husbands will be forty, sixty, seventy, or, even eighty years old, it just seems as though it is light years ago. Or for that matter, if we remarry later in life, and we are healthy, we look forward to the next thirty years, and sickness does not come into our minds.

When you have been told that your loved one has prostate cancer, and his P.S.A reads 25, the cancer has gone outside the prostate and could be in the Lymph nodes, it felt as though the whole world had collapsed around my feet. You can not step over this burden, and walk away from it, this is your loved one, that has prostate cancer, but you can give support to that man
in your life, how ever trying it might be.

The feeling of emptiness when your husband is told by his urologist that an operation is to be done. But, because he has had a heart attack twelve years before, and a stroke only twelve months previous, and the cancer could be in the Lymph nodes, a radical prostatectomy is out of the question, the only operation for him is an orchidectomy, the removal of the testicles. This was a shock to both of us as we had only been married for four years and still enjoying the intimacy in life.

Some men who have had a radical prostatectomy or an orchidectomy can suffer with impotence problems. They feel they are powerless, defeated, and hopeless as a husband and lover, they are devastated, that this has happened to them.

It is hard enough for your husband to come to terms with being told that he has prostate cancer, and as well as being impotent, it is a shattering experience and nothing really prepares you for it. Do these urologists realise what they are putting the men and their wives or partners through, a decision that has to be made in a week, that affects you for the rest of your life.

The bucket of tears that flowed in that week, I am sure the Waikato river was flowing very well. But this does not bring your husband or partner back as a true man. The anguish that he goes through knowing that his sex life is powerless and most of all,
"Will she stay with me" is a huge question that comes to all these men that have had these operations.

Incontinence is another big problem our men folk are faced with. Anxiety and depression may occur as a result of bladder control problems. Some men hide these problems from other men because they feel they are the only one around who is unable to control their bladder, the embarrassment and shame that many feel, may delay them in seeking help.

With both these men's problems it does put some marriages in jeopardy. I have not got a husband who is ill, this I could understand if he was ill, but he is, as you can see, very healthy, and as a women I found this difficult to come to terms with.
I wonder how many of you women that are here today, wish you could turn back the clock, back to the times, when your husband or partner could share in the intimacy of your relationship that was then, was taken for granted , but you both enjoyed those times.

Ten years ago I was operated on for a hysterectomy, the surgeon who performed the operation, was sure, I would have no side effects or problems in making love, as he said "The play-ground is still there". Was this statement made because he was a male, and could not do without making love in his life. Deep down I feel the medical profession has not considered the female
partner, to these prostate problems. There is nothing wrong with me, like you, I am a whole women, but the intimacy is a thing of the past. It is not my fault, or my husbands, but the medical profession and the government bureaucrats who have not faced
facts with men's health problems at an earlier age.

Prostate problems have been around for hundreds of years, but of course they have never been discussed in the open like it is nowadays. Thank goodness for television, radio, women's magazines, and of course we have the Prostate Awareness and Support Society.

In years gone by, men have kept this problem to themselves, or, to close members of the family, and they never talked about this problem man to man, as it was always said to be "an old man's problem". I suppose it is not considered macho to do this, as private parts are kept private. It is up to us, as members of the society to get out and tell the men folk about this prostate problem .

But as we know now, heading into the millennium, a problem shared is a problem halved and a weight off your shoulders. This is what helps the healing process. This is why women are so different from men, they are out-spoken about their bodies, and share their experiences of operations thay have had with other women, and this is what women think, if I have that problem, I must deal with it straight away. As time has gone by, and we all know that time does heal, we realise, that making love is not the only thing we can do together. It is having your husband or partner with you now that counts. Every new day that we are
together with them, is a blessing, so lets make the most of it and be happy.

Remember there are other ways of showing your affection, a kiss does not go amiss, and a cuddle will keep love warm, and a candle lit dinner for two will help you through these times. Try to do something different every month, pack a lunch and go for a
picnic, see the sights of another town, go to the park and feed the ducks, take a walk along the beach, visit the art gallery or museum, have friends around for a mid-winter Christmas dinner, or just spend the day with family and grandchildren. It is important we do these things together, and to share the love that we have.

Do not take it for granted that our husbands or partners are going to be with us in years to come, let us take time and enjoy their company, and take a stroll down the garden path, holding hands, and remember, through sickness and in health,

Ann Scarrow, 1998