Do not skip this fantastic article, not only is it a great read, the message is clear!
“Just a guy getting on with the business of living, not just surviving.”
Before I start, I didn’t write this as a self-indulgent piece for insincere pity - it’s a heads up to all fellas my age to stop burying their heads in the sand, get over your embarrassment with your tackle, get down the Docs and get a PSA check so that any issues can be caught early.
In 2016, my PA had booked out an afternoon for my company medical so unlike so many other times before there was no ducking out this time. Now I won’t bore you with the details, but 98% of the medical was no problem, but the elephant in the room came at the end of the checkup.
“Just two final checks Mr Bather, Testicles and Prostate.” It’s weird how us men are so coy about these checks when you can be in any team dressing room, and there is no stopping people ‘Dick swinging!’ Perhaps it’s because I was naked and the Doc was fully clothed with cold hands and big fingers! In truth neither check is a trauma and less than a minute later I was pulling my boxers on and heading for the door.
Having lost my Dad at the age of 59 and Grandad to prostrate Cancer, it really shouldn’t have been a shock when the Doc confirmed a high PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) level of 7.5 and 2 Prostate Tumours (beware technical jargon ahead...) both with a Gleason score of 7.
I was 49 and reeling from the news .. CANCER .. Just the very word strikes fear into each of us. I was fit, healthy and although I liked my food and a beer, I had no untoward symptoms, and I wasn’t remotely ill. Fortunately, I had the support of my wonderful wife, sons and great friends so at least I wasn’t in it alone.
Once the diagnosis was confirmed, after a scan and Biopsy (Ouch!) I was heading to the Royal Marsden in Kensington for my treatment. In my case, it meant a pretty brutal, Radical Prostatectomy operation, followed by 18 weeks of Chemotherapy, eight weeks of Radiotherapy and two years of Hormone treatment. Now I would be lying if I said the treatment isn’t tough because it is. The physical and mental challenges of dealing with Cancer have proved to be some of the darkest times in my life. Body changes, the impact on work and family are just the tip of an endless iceberg. The scars will heal, but the mental impact may last a while. I managed my treatment in Small steps ? which later became a tattoo as a reminder of the sleepless nights, aching bones and stomach wrenching sickness.
However, had I not had the checks the alternative of death seems a little more challenging!
So after two years, I’m on the mend and looking forward to living life, not just surviving. I’m determined not to be defined by my Cancer. I’m working hard to get back in shape and enjoying every day.
So, my ask of you is simple.
Note from Okhane: Mark is too humble to add that he just cycled the C2C route with friends and family, just for the hell of it!