And so it finishes…

The treatment that is, for now.

The brachytherapy went well, it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, and I didn’t have a general anaesthetic! I arrived at St Luke’s on Wednesday a bit early as they had phoned to say the surgeons list was going well and could I be there before my alloted time? No problem so we arrived and we’re checked in and got into hospital gown and anti DVT socks (they are a bugger to get on). Then the aneathetist of all people turns porter and wheels me round to the pre op room. There he drops the bombshell having looked at my notes (I indicated I don’t like general anaesthetic). He gives me via a canula an injection which he said would make me feel like I’ve ‘drunk half a bottle of wine’, then gives me the what I called an epidural in my back. Then I met the surgeon who’s only the boss, Prof Stephen Langley, excellent! They wheeled me laid me on my back, legs up into stirrups (like giving birth) and then they got in with it. The aneathetist asked me from time to time how I was feeling and I asked him after a while how long I’d been here and he says an hour. Felt like 10 minutes to me. The only problem I had was pins and needles in my right hand where the blood pressure cuff was on my arm. Went away after a while. They wheeled me back to recovery and it felt like I didn’t have a bum and legs; they were completely numb. But the aneathetist said it would take about 5 hours to wear off and it did. I got something to eat and then they moved me to a surgery ward in another part of the hospital which seemed to be miles away. Another one of my fellow prostate patients was bought in and we settled down for a while. I’d had a catheter inserted during the operation, it takes urine away from you via a tube inserted into the penis. You don’t have to try and pee, it just dribbles out of its own accord. My catheter bag was filling quite well with no strain on my part. At midnight a nurse came to take the catheter out and that was painful. We had to pee into a jug from then on and this would be checked to see if we had done enough to be discharged. I did and I was. Then got picked up by Fran and taken home.

The first few days I was a bit sore but salt baths sorted that out. You find your bowels take a bit of time to sort themselves our, and of course I felt quite tired for a few days. But here I am a week after the op, and feel quite good really. It can take 2-3 weeks to get back to normal, and then I’ll get a telephone consultation in April, preceded by me getting a PSA test done. Then PSA tests at 3, 6, and 12 month intervals. If I’m all clear, great; if not a rethink, but the hospital’s record is 93% succesful. Let’s hope I’m in that percentile.

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The Final Stages

It’s the day I go into hospital for the final stage of my prostrate cancer treatment. Today I’ll be having a brachtherapy procedure which is to insert uranium’seeds’ into my prostate, which will kill any remaining cancerous cells. This method has been proven over a number of years, and at the hospital I’m having mine done, has a 93% success rate. It involves a general anaesthetic to be under for 45 minutes and is a well practiced and standard procedure.

This follows my 22 sessions of radiation therapy which was completed on 13th January. That was quite gruelling, travelling to St Luke’s Cancer Centre Guildford every day. I treated it like a job, and as it took up to three hours a day, I suppose it was. The whole effort of getting there, finding a parking place, waiting, and then getting home again was quite exhausting and in the end I got quite used to it. It was lovely having the support of my wife along mist of the days. But now that is over, and I await with not a little trepidation today’s outcome. I’ll be in overnight so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Wish me luck.


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BBC News: Prostate cancer laser treatment ‘truly transformative’

Prostate cancer laser treatment ‘truly transformative’ –

I’ll be asking about this.

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As so it starts…

Well I’m now officially a cancer patient. The aforementioned radiation therapy started last week and I’m now on course for finishing the first week of 6 sessions.

There are still another 16 to go though, daily except for the odd day off for equipment maintenance, Christmas and New Year etc. There’s quite a club of older men about the same age who gather daily in the L.A. area. L.A. stands for linear accelerator, and it’s basically gamma rays focused on the afflicting part of the body, in my case of course the prostrate gland. The rays only focus on the gland itself, but don’t ask me about the science; Google it. Anyway they (the specialists) reckon 22 daily radiation therapies will be enough followed by brachytherapy. I hope so. So, to the routine: the appointment times are precisely set, 12.36, 17.12 and so on. I have to arrive 40 minutes before the treatment, so I have to leave home at lesdt 30 minutes before that; it makes for a long day whatever time of day it is. On arrival, you empty (bladder) and then 30 minutes before radiation you drink (in my case), 450ml of water within 5 minutes.Apparently this goes straight to the bladder (I can vouch for that) so that by the time you’re lying on the radiation gurney, you are bursting to go. After drinking the water, I get changed into dressing gown and slippers, keeping shirt pants and socks on. Then wait. And wait. And I’m needing a pee. And even more needing a pee. At least the time comes and a radiographer takes me through and I lay on the gurney having shed dressing gown and slippers. The radiogs line me up, manhandle me into place, call meaningless (to me) numbers, and then I’m set. The machinery rotates around my body stopping at 120° intervals and firing for 15 seconds, and does this twice. That’s it. No pain. No burning smell. No internal pain. Nothing. Then off the gurney get dressed and out to the main waiting area, find a changing room and get dressed into street clothes. I’m free to go.

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Been a long time, been a lonely, lonely time…

No,  you’re not seeing things, I’m still here and although I haven’t written anything since August, I’ve been busy with, another holiday, family visits, hospital visits, weekends away etc. You know how it is with us Seenagers. Yes, that’s the new expression for Senior Teenagers, which is I think quite apt.

Anyway after our lovely cruise down the Rhine in July, we went to Cala D’or, Majorca to stay in a friends apartment in a lovely quite town. But, I’ve moved on and am now prepared for the first session of radiation treatment for that naughty little prostate. I’ve been MRI’d, CT’d, had fiducial markers inserted and been tattooed. Yes tattoos, my first ever, admittedly they’re only pin point dots, one at the top of each thigh, and one on the pubic bone, but they’ve been put there to line up the radiation guns so they target the cancerous cells only, to minimise damage to the good ones. The fiducial markers involved the insertion of three gold pellets into the prostate, the size of a grain of rice, but worth £40 each, so I’m worth at least £120! I doubt if they’re recoverable in the crematorium though, bad luck family, you won’t be gold hoarders.The gold pellets are also used in lining up the radiation as well; I don’t know the details but they know what they’re doing – I hope. I will have 22 sessions of radiation followed two weeks later by a process called brachytherapy. This involves the insertion (again) of active uranium into the prostate, I believe strung together with a dissolving thread. The uranium kills off the last remaining ‘bad’ cells and does so for six months afterwards; they are then fully spent. During the first three months I have to stay away from pregnant women (easy), small children can’t sit on my lap (easy again), and eventually my cancer will be cured (I hope!). The radiation treatment continues into the New Year, and preparation for each daily involves an enema. This is explained thus: The bladder had to be full, so water is drunk before each session, but the rectum has to be empty, so the necessity for the enema, to ensure it is. Thus makes the prostate sit up proud of both those vessels, so the radiation can be targeted. Complicated ain’t it? 

But life goes on and I’ve got to relax as much as possible, and started a few days ago with a Madness concert in Bournemouth staying there for a few days. Madness were great as always, and did some of the songs off their latest ‘LP’ as Suggs called it, and all there old favourites. The new stuff is a bit so-so though. I’ve also got tickets to see the great Eric (Clapton) in May which will be a celebration of the end of treatment. Then hopefully life will go on as before, I hope.

If you can, consider giving a donation to my Just Giving page:

Clive Handy’s Just Giving Page

Every penny counts towards researching the end of this disease.

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Please donate, if you can

I’m raising funds for the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust, which concentrates donations  for prostrate cancer, via Just Giving. Please give a donation if you can. UK taxpayers can add their address to gain an extra 25% due to tax relief. All donations gratefully received:

Please click in the link below:

Just Giving Clive Handy

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Post Biopsy Diagnosis

The allotted day has arrived. My appointment with the prostate cancer specialist who performed the template biopsy on me arrived and I went to see him. After the preamble about the procedure, he then confirmed that I had cancerous cells on my prostate, level T2, which is contained within the prostate. T3 mean cells outside the prostate are affected and T4 means cancer elsewhere in for example the lymph nodes. The level of infection is classed between 6 – 10, and mine is 7, so pretty low, thank goodness.

So, to the treatment. This was given as two alternatives: hormone and radiation therapy treatment followed by brachytherapy; or prostatectomy, removal of the prostrate and joining the tubes together. To explain the prostate, it’s basically a switch valve to port either urine or sperm from the appropriate vessel; the bladder or the sperm gland through the urethra and out of the penis. The prostate sits next to the bladder. Often there are no symptoms, but if there are they can be: needing to urinate more often, and needing to go immediately. There are other symptoms. Anyway I elected for the former treatment straight away, without having time to think about it. I’d heard that a prostatectomy can cause incontinence and other side effects, and I didn’t want that.So I will take my chances with the hormone/radiation therapy. This involves receiving a single hormone injection then a hormone tablet once a day for four weeks; then radiation therapy daily for four weeks at a major hospital under an oncologists supervision. Then under a general anaesthetic, the brachytherapy. This is the process that implants tiny ‘seeds’ of uranium into several parts of the prostate where they stay killing off any residual cancerous cells, and providing future protection. The outlook after all this treatment is good, and I should make a good recovery. ‘Should’ of course is a variable  component but I’m hopeful.

Finally I urge ALL men, especially those over 50, to ask, nay, insist in a PSA test. Whilst not a definitive indication of cancerous cells; a high reading can for instance be caused by ejeculation, diet or even too much bike riding!  But it can be an early warning of problems, which can be confirmed with other tests (see my previous blog on this subject). So, whatever your take on it, knowing that you may have a problem and that it is treatable, if detected early enough, is surely a spur to get yourself tested?

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