Brian’s Journey with Prostate Cancer
Brian was diagnosed with prostate cancer on 8 October 2016 age 69 following a PSA test carried out at the Martletts arranged by B.Hill Lions. His wife had urged him to attend following receipt of a flier about the event which was posted through the door of their shop. He found the event well organised. A nurse did a simple blood test, which Brian believes saved his life. He was not experiencing symptoms other than getting up a lot to visit the toilet during the night he put down to old age creeping in. The whole procedure took no more than 20-30 mins. He was told he would get result by letter over 7-10 days.
This arrived and showed his PSA reading was 67 and further tests had to be done. Throughout Nov and Dec 2016 tests were carried out at Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath with an MRI and ultrasound followed by a biopsy. Two Macmillan nurses came to the room to offer support and we were served refreshments. In Feb 2017 tests showed Gleason 4+5 with fast growing cancer cells, locally advanced, and he was given Zoladex treatment. In June 2017 his PSA had fallen to 5.4 and his oncologist, Dr Robinson, outlined the treatment plan which was HDR brachytherapy followed by radiotherapy. HDR brachytherapy was given at Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton which distributed radiation whilst minimising problems to surrounding tissue, organs, bladder/bowel. Brachytherapy is delivered through flexible plastic needles (21 in his case) inserted into the prostate between anus and testicle carried out in the operating theatre under general anaesthetic. A radioactive source is then remotely driven through each of the needles.
Treatment can take up to 20-30 minutes. A scan was used by the Urologist to plan the treatment. Planning procedure took 2-3 hours. When the plan was approved he was taken for CT scans to check the needles were in the correct position. The 21 needles were connected to the HDR machine. There was a commentary and microphone system so that they could talk to me during the treatment. Always at least 1 nurse in attendance. Brian said following the procedure when he awoke, the first thing he can remember is seeing seven young nurses at the foot of his bed smiling and saying “Good Morning Brian”. He thought he was dreaming! Some of course were student nurses witnessing the procedure for the first time. He felt severe pain when the needles and catheter were being removed. He had to pass urine before going home, and then rest for 24 hours - no driving. Some discomfort was experienced at first when passing urine and with bowel movement, but this soon improved.
On 20 November 2017 he had radiotherapy (Tomotherapy) at Preston Park, 23 visits. Side effects were more wind than usual, needing to empty bowels more often, mucous from his back passage, tiredness and fatigue. His energy levels were affected. Hormone treatment ended in May 2019. He is still getting hot flushes, but getting up in the night isn’t as frequent. February 2019 he had a PSA level of 0.58. Brian explained his oncologist recommended brachytherapy, and he accepted his recommendation. It was explained that every treatment carries a risk.