Bryan's story

In his own words, Bryan shares his experience of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. At the time of his initial diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. in the 1990s, there was little information available so one of the things he did was to set up an online support group.

From about the age of 40, I had a lot of inflammationThe body’s response to injury. and discomfort in the genitourinary area caused by prostatitis and epididymitisInflammation of the epididymis, one of two tubes that carry sperm away from either testicle in a man.. This was quite painful and debilitating at times.

In early 1996 I became quite ill and had to have time off work. My doctor had checked my prostate but said there was nothing to worry about. Maureen, my wife, pushed me to ask for a second opinion from a urologist.

In some ways I was happy that a cause had been found - we knew what we were dealing with

Eventually I used my hospital fund, a health insurance saving scheme, to have a private consultation with a urologist. He thought my PSA score of 3.7 was too high and he did a physical examination called a digital rectal examination (DREDigital rectal examination, physical examination that involves inserting a finger into the patient’s rectum, their back passage.). He found something - even though previous doctors had told me everything was normal. He recommended a rectal scan and biopsyThe removal of a small sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under a microscope. The term may also refer to the tissue sample itself.. Tests and diagnosis

The biopsyThe removal of a small sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under a microscope. The term may also refer to the tissue sample itself. results showed a GleasonA system used to assess the extent of abnormality of prostate cancer cells. score of 6, indicating moderately aggressive cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. (Learn more about GleasonA system used to assess the extent of abnormality of prostate cancer cells. scores used to grade prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..)

In some ways I was happy that a cause had been found - we knew what we were dealing with. I know my wife has said since that she was very upset. We told all the family. There are times when you are down, indecisive times, times when you are happy that the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. had pushed you into doing different things such as travel, meeting friends, different work.

I set up my own prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. support e-group for emotional support and somewhere to swap notes and talk - for men, wives, family or just those who care.

Deciding which treatment to have was a worry. There was no internet and hardly any sources of information back in 1996. I signed up for a radical prostatectomyThe surgical removal of the entire prostate gland., when doctors would remove the whole of my prostate in October 1996 before less invasive laparoscopic A keyhole surgical procedure.(keyhole surgeryA type of minimally invasive surgery.) and robotically-assisted prostatectomies were available. Choosing treatments

There was no internet and hardly any sources of information back in 1996

As things turned out the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. was not as slow-moving as GleasonA system used to assess the extent of abnormality of prostate cancer cells. 6 would suggest. After 18 months the PSA levels started to rise again quite quickly. I heard about a vaccine trial and was accepted. The vaccine delayed the rate of PSA rise over an 18-month period. I had to make monthly trips to the hospital to receive the medication. Maureen, my wife, came with me. We both felt that trials would be of benefit to other prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. sufferers in the future.

In the fourth year the PSA levels suddenly shot up from 9 to 19 in six months. I went on another trial using low-dose chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. but two months later a tumour was found in my urethra. It wouldn't have been picked up and treated as quickly if I hadn't been on the trial as it was found as a result of extra bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. tests I was having.

I suppose the whole thing affects the patient and those around them. You can feel anger, confusion... but you have to keep going.