Adrian is 71 years old. He grew up on the Bellarine Peninsula, and completed an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic. He was employed in an agricultural machinery business before joining local government where he worked as a grader operator. Adrian left that position to set up his own business in mower, chainsaw and small engines.
He ran that business for ten years before returning to local government as a grader operator and retired in 2008. Adrian’s first experience with prostate cancer was when his father passed away in 1990 after the prostate cancer spread to his bones.
With the strong genetic link to prostate cancer, Adrian’s doctor advised him to commence monitoring his PSA. He has been having an annual blood test since he was 50.
Last year the test revealed a more than doubling of the PSA, from 3.0 to 6.9. Having watched the impact of prostate cancer on his father, Adrian was ready to act. An appointment was made with a urologist, and a DRE indicated an enlarged prostate. He was told that he would need a biopsy, and a hospital appointment was arranged. “When I arrived at the hospital I noticed another chap in the waiting room whom I knew. He had the same name as me, had worked for the same employer and was there for the same procedure. I thought, “Gosh I hope they don’t get our names mixed up.”
Four days later Adrian received a phone call from his urologist. He was informed that the paperwork really had been mixed up, and another biopsy would be required.
He had that second biopsy, “….. and I reckon my prostate must have now looked like a colander, with holes all through it.” About a week later Adrian woke up at midnight shivering and shaking and feeling that his heart was wanting to jump right out of his chest. He said to his wife, Jenny, “we are off to Emergency.” Fortunately that Sunday night was quiet in Emergency. Adrian was admitted, and Jenny drove home planning to ring in the morning. But the hospital rang her. Jenny received a call at 6.30am; she was told the Adrian’s body was shutting down, his blood pressure had dropped, he had septicemia and that he had been taken to the resuscitation room. He spent another three days in Intensive Care, “…and I couldn’t fault the excellent level of care and the all-round professionalism of the staff whilst I was in there.”
This was all happening at a time when Adrian and Jenny had been planning to head off on an extended caravanning holiday together. This year had been particularly anticipated because the previous year that same trip had to be cancelled because Adrian required a knee replacement. And the year before that the caravanning trip was cancelled when Jenny had to have a knee replacement.
Out of hospital, Adrian now had to return to the urologist to receive the second biopsy result. With a Gleason score of 7 the trip was cancelled for another year. The urologist provided Adrian with three options to consider – brachytherapy, radiotherapy or a radical prostatectomy. Armed with explanatory literature, Adrian was told to return in a couple of weeks having considered those options. He opted for a radical, and a hospital date was set for July. Adrian had seen a television program that showed the application of robotic surgery on the prostate, and asked about the availability of this in Geelong. He was told that a new da Vinci robot had just been installed at St John of God Hospital. His urologist had recently commenced working with this, and advised that robotic surgery could provide a better result, that it was less invasive, and that post op recovery was quicker. The procedure could last about 4 – 5 hours. Adrian said that he would like to proceed with the robotic surgery.
“One hour into my surgery, the robot died. Apparently the technician who accompanied the robot had never experienced such a shut-down. There were calls being made to San Francisco for help…. After an hour my urologist decided to revert to completing the operation using a traditional open incision. I was under anesthesia for 8 hours. I came home looking like I had been fighting over in Iraq – holes, staples, catheter, incision…”
Adrian’s urologist was confident that the cancer had been contained and that the operation had been a success. This was supported later by pathology results and on-going PSA blood testing.
“That period of time following the operation I hit rock-bottom. The incontinence was really getting to me; the frustration of finding the right incontinence product was so difficult that it became depressing. And there were problems with the catheter.” However Adrian states “… it was the urology nurses (at the urology practice) who became my guardian angels. I could ring them at any time and receive reassurance. They were tremendous, so accessible, so compassionate.” Adrian is now 99% back to normal and very pleased with the progress that he has made. At the recommendation of his urologist, Adrian saw the urology physiotherapist both pre and post op., and says that he found this invaluable.
It was both his urologist and the practice nurse who suggested that Adrian could find it helpful to join the Geelong Prostate Support Group, and he and his wife Jenny now attend all meetings. They have found the Group to be very friendly, informative and enjoyable. Jenny also attends the Partners’ get- togethers.
Jenny and Adrian have been members of the Rock and Roll Club for 15 years, and at one stage they were dancing up to three times a week. “Unfortunately I have had to give up doing lifts in the dancing! “ He has recently held a committee position maintaining the membership data base.
Adrian truly appreciates the support that he has received from Jenny, his son and daughter and the many dear friends in the Rock and Roll Club throughout his journey with prostate cancer.
Adrian has discussed prostate cancer with his 41 years old son. His son has recently started with a baseline PSA test, and will continue in years to come. “A great outcome,” reports Adrian.
And as for that four times delayed caravan trip north? By the time you read this Jenny and Adrian will hopefully have reached Darwin.