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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Here comes summer….whoops!

Talk about a season of two halves. 

Just a short 7 days or so ago we were sweltering in temperatures ‘hotter than Cairo’. Now we are looking n danger if putting the heating on – in August!! That shouldn’t be happening. But this is Britain goddamit and we are used to crappy weather aren’t we? Well yes but then we usually go off somewhere where it’s guaranteed to be hot and sunny. There you’re in danger of getting  melanoma and yet we are not getting enough vitamin D according to medical sources; so we should be taking extra of this vitamin. Factor 50 sun lotion has a lot to answer for. Surely it’s about moderation, a bit of sun to top up the Vitamin D, then cover up; it’s not rocket science, well perhaps it is.

There doesn’t seem to have been as much furore about the UK getting its second female Prime Minister, than there was with the first one. But then when Mrs Thatcher became PM in 1979 she set the benchmark for the world; although there had been other countries with women as head politician,  one was as iconic as Mrs T. But Theresa May is a different kettle of polifician, she’s not so strident and not so err, middle class as her predecessor. She seems to be understated, and more creative with her pronouncements. Watch this space. I reckon Brexit will take years to sort out.

So, it was said on the TV news this morning that this country concentrates it’s sport manly in football. I agree with, the mainstream channels,BT, Sky, they all push football as if it’s some holy grail. Now BT are concentrating on providing sports, especially football, across its networks, instead investing in broadband reach  Ofcomm have stated that BTs concentration on vying for football coverage is impacting on its ability to provide a wider reach for internet services, especially in rural areas. Since BT own the ‘last mile’ of all internet connections, all the other provides have to pay rent for this, so they are in a perfect position to do what like whilst enriching their own pockets. Bugger the consumers, we want to get rich. The concentration on sport also affects the main TV channels who probably all think we’re all dribbling,  gawping  at the football or whatever. This guy on TV this morning even said the Olympics is a mystery to football fans and they won’t watch anything except the football in Rio! With BT doing what they want, it seems yet again the minority spoil it for the majority, while lining their pockets yet again, eh MR Green?

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This is important (especially if you’re a man)

Prostate cancer is deemed with ovarian cancer for women, the ‘silent killer’.

Often symptomless, painless and benign, prostate cancer if detected early enough has a high recovery rate. I’m writing about this to impart my experience in the hope that other men will get themselves checked out.

If February this year, I answered a plea for volunteers to have their PSA (prostrate specific antigens) levels checked. I went along with no preconception about what I was letting myself in for, and thought it was a simple blood test. The tests were being run by a charity whose name I’ve forgotten but their mission is to spread awareness about the simple PSA test to detect any abnormalities. There was a cost involved which went towards the costs of transport, nurses and administration of the charity, but also the testing of the blood samples. The unfortunate thing is that there is national or NHS screening programme for PSA testing. In medical circles there is a difference of opinion about whether PSA testing is a reliable indication of anything wrong. A high PSA can give a ‘false positive’ in that it doesn’t indicate the presence of cancer. Amazingly in a survey, 5% of men questioned didn’t know they had a prostate gland! So getting the message out there is especially important to men of a ‘certain age’. Also statistically more men due WITH prostate cancer than due OF it.

So my results came back from my PSA test with the charity at 5.7. For my age it should be 3.9 or less, and the letter I received urged to see my GP for further testing. As I was in the throes of moving I got it done quickly and saw my old GP. He referred me to the urology department in the local hospital and I duly turned to be examined. Now, for those of a nervous disposition, jump the rest of this paragraph. The lovely nurse met me and I thought oh she’s taking me to see a male doctor. None of that I’m afraid, she talked to me and eventually said she would like to examine me. The term used is DRE, which stands for digital rectal examination. Yes folks she got me on the gurney and got another nurse in as a chaperone and told me to drop my trousers and pants and lie on my side on the gurney and bring my knees up. Then she inserted a rubber-gloved finger to have a ‘feel around’, and sure enough it hurt a bit. When she finished, she said there was a slight rough patch which warranted further investigation. Then I got dressed and the nurse said that she would to get me sent me for an MRI (magnetic resonance indicator) test to see if anything was amiss. A week or so later i went off to the hospital in Frimley and went into the MRI scanner room with no idea what was going to happen. The MRI scanner made lots of thumping and whirring and moved in and out of the machine (as seen in numerous medical dramas on TV). You’re wearing a headset with music playing with the occasional interruption by a soothing voice telling what was going on. ‘The next segment is 5 minutes long’, ‘the next segment is 45 seconds’ and so. The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes with the results due to be given to be a couple of weeks later.

I went to my appointment with the nurses boss, Mr Bott a few weeks later, and he said that MRI wasn’t conclusive so wanted me to have a biopsy. This would involve shooting a laser at the prostate to pick out 36 points which would be a better indication of their being anything wrong. I awaited this appointment with trepidation. It came round on 3rd August and was to be a day surgery procedure. So I arrived at the appointed time and everything was explained in great detail. It all went very well and I now await the results in about three weeks time. For various reasons I’m hopeful that the outcome will be benign, but if it isn’t at least I’ve caught it early.

My message is simply this: guys get your PSA levels checked, especially if you have family history. The guy in the next bed to me was only 45 but had a family history of prostrate cancer, and so did he. Another friend has had his prostate removed in his forties, so it proves you can be quite young. So don’t think you only have to be an old git.

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And now for something completely different (with apologies to Monty)

I’ve banged on about our move and the house long enough. Time to change tack methinks.

Lots going on in the world to comment on this week, anti-semitism, Hillsborough, police commissioner elections, the EU, referendum, Cameron’s performance, Corbyn’s inaction, and finally and this is my point today:

Po-faced holier than thou attitude of broadcasters, especially quelle surprise the good old, sorry not so good BBC. What gives the right to allow these stuck up, superior sounding wankers the right to pontificate about the main subject this week: the 96 fans who died at a football match. As usual it’s always easy to be wise after the act, and here I’m not going to comment on the inquest or its result, but some of those broadcasters’ sound as if they were there they would have done this and so and so should have that; they weren’t and they didn’t, it was 27 years ago, you can’t change history only, as Churchill said, learn from it. The blatant attitude of some if these so-called ‘journalists’ is beyond believe to sound above and beyond us mere mortals who of course make mistakes, but they don’t. Reporters and journalists should remember that they are only reporting events, not trying to sound as if they know the best solution to everything. The ones that really get my goat are those who shove a microphone into the face of someone who has just faced a tragedy or similar; they ask ‘how do you feel’? As if they’ve got an immediate answer to explain their feelings. Sorry, but if I was asked that question in those circumstances I’d probably punch their lights out. Its not just me saying this. A well known Mail on Sunday journalist says today of a group of newsmen following Ken Livingstone:

‘He stepped into an over-excited knot of political reporters. They looked like what they are; simultaneously a pack of snapping wolves, buzzing with self-righteousness, and a flock of bleating conformist sheep, all thinking and saying exactly the same thing.’

Thanks to Peter Hitchens for largely agreeing with me. Now, some may say he’s not exactly everyone’s favourite, but I totally agree with him on this occasion. But they’ll never change and couldn’t care less about finding out the truth, just what they think their readers/viewers would be titillated by. Get a real job.

Rant over.

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The first three weeks

So, it’s week three in the new house and the love affair carries on. We love the house, love the quiet, love the area and love being here – totally.

Spring is in the air and it shows in what’s happening in our new garden, leaves are sprouting, birds are nest building and all around new life is forming. The unpacking is gong well, only a few left, but we’re running out of space, and the loft is becoming a secondary wardrobe and ‘junk cupboard’. Don’t mention the garage which although huge (17′ x 17′), is scattered with stuff that needs sorting, but at least it’s not immediately needed. But that’s the effect of ‘downsizing’; although in our case we’ve downsized from a four bedroom house to a smaller four bedroom house, and we left wardrobes and built in cupboards behind, in which all sorts of stuff can be stuffed. It’s also meant we have down-junked more since we moved. I thought we got rid of a shed load of stuff prior to the move, but now realise that some of the stuff we bought with us, needn’t have been. Still, it’s easy to dump stuff we either don’t need or don’t use any more; getting it back could be problematic. We’re also getting rid of furniture that just doesn’t fit in, but my view is we’ve had our use out of it for many years so it doesn’t owe us anything, and it is only IKEA, now pronounced ekea rather than i kea I noticed on the TV adverts. But to find room for everything; that is the challenge.

We’ve had loads of visitors to have a nose around. Our former neighbours, close friends and family have all come here to have a look and be impressed. We’ve taken them over to the local pub, a minutes walk away and enjoyed superb food and my favourite tipple, Hogs Back Tea. We really have struck lucky, the area is fantastic, it’s countrified, quiet and peaceful. What more could one ask for?

View from round the corner:


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We’re in!

That’s it. Moving in day has happened and we’re spending our first night in the new house.

Its a bit weird like being in a holiday home or breaking into someone else’s house and thinking they might storm in and ask just what we think we’re doing here. But no, it’s ours and we’re in it and that’s that, there’s no going back. But it’s still weird.

After a few days the feeling of being on holiday is diminishing, and getting rid of the removal boxes adds to the feeling. We’ve tried a couple of local trips, one to the local pub for dinner, which was fantastic. Then we went for a walk on Sunday to explore the local farm shop, which again was a lovely place. On the way back however I spotted a public pathway and suggested following it to see if it lead back to the back of our estate. It didn’t! We went round in a big circle and ended up, eventually, coming out near the pub, which was then only a short walk. The trouble is we paid for my bravado, by being stiff as boards the next morning through too much walking. Still if we keep it up it’ll have a double benefit; get fit and lose weight. Yeah right, some hope. Lots of admin to do this week, doctors, dentists etc all the things we’ve taken for granted over the last few decades. As I said before it’s amazing how many people have your address and need to be informed of the change. I invested in the Royal Mail redirection service and so far it’s worked well, with several letters being diverted directly. Apparently they let correspondents know that new address as well. It may sound expensive at nearly £40 for six months, but well worth it I feel.

More progress reports to come.

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OK it’s getting scary now….

6 days to go as I write.

Trouble is I’ve picked up a bug of some sort and it has pole axed me, spent the day in bed feeling rubbish. My wife also had the same thing; luckily before me, so it’s slowed things down a bit. I think  we’ve packed pretty well, but there still seems to be awful lot of stuff to square away, although the removal men will do the lion’s share. It’ll all come out in the wash, let’s face it anything in the house (and outside) has got to be moved, so we’ll see what happens next week. One of the things I didn’t realise is the removal companies don’t accept tins of paint, oils, greases, turps; well you get the picture. So I’ll have to take that over to the new house in the trailer and the trusty Bongo. I’ve also got a shed full of wood, I can’t stand throwing any out, although I have got rid of some cheap pine. I’m also taking my guitars (5) and my keyboards/amplifiers over in the Bongo, good job it’s got the capacity, fantastic vehicle. The actual removal process will take three days, from packing to delivery on the third day, so there’s a lot of stuff o shift.

To be honest it still doesn’t feel real that we are actually leaving Tongham after 33 years 10 months. It just feels like we’ve de-cluttered  and packed a lot of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day for many years, but I guess we’ll need it all at the other end. We’ve also got Easter and the clocks going forward on Sunday so time will be compressed, at least we’ll have more light evenings. I’ve ordered my BT package for the new house and that’s being delivered next week. There’s a whole lot of wiring and connecting to do at the other end, which I’m not looking forward to, until it all works: Sky, broadband, phone, normal TV it’s quite daunting but I’m sure I’ll cope. Then there’s the neighbours. We’ve been lucky and had fantastic neighbours for the last 30 odd years and we’ll have to start all over again. That’s not say we’ll keep in touch with our former neighbours, we’ve got to come back to the old area for various things.

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Another attrocity

The suicide attack of Brussels is absolutley horrific and has caused much carnage and death. That they were able to kill and maim people outside the main security area is bad enough, but the big question is: why?

No, I don’t mean why whoever did this chose Brussels or where ever, Paris, Madrid etc; I mean what do they want? Do they want to change the world? Do they want us all to wear beards, turbans and long black or white robes? Do they want to turn the world Muslim or for us all to be under Sharia law? Do they want us to support the ISIS? The perpetrators of these atrocities never to seem to state what their objectives are, much less claim responsibility. To just blow people up, create bedlam, cause distress and horror doesn’t mean governments are just going to go belly up and let ‘them’ whoever they are, take over that country. At least previous terror campaigns, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Hitler etc had an objective, this latest series of horrors doesn’t seem to have a requirement. No-one comes forward and says ‘this is what we want’. To just blow up areas, cause panic and distress doesn’t in and of itself cause governments to fall or capitulation of countries.

So what do they want?

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