Colin is 68 years old. For a number of years he had not been feeling well, affected by chronic fatigue. When he turned 60, Colin did what many of his friends were doing and went to his doctor for a full medical check-up. He was particularly keen to get a resolution to the chronic fatigue. The blood tests that were ordered all returned excellent results, except the PSA which came back as 10. Colin had not previously had a PSA test. He was referred to an urologist who advised a biopsy. Of the twelve samples taken, ten showed cancer.
Colin had a Gleason score of 7. He was given an information booklet to take away and read, and told to come back after deciding which of the available options he wished to pursue. Colin wanted to look into the matter thoroughly, and eventually he chose to have a radical prostatectomy. The operation was booked for November 2007.
Three months after the procedure he had a PSA of 1.3. Both Colin and the urologist were disappointed with this, but the urologist’s words were optimistic ‘…Colin, we can beat this.’ Another three months and another PSA test, and this time it had increased to 1.7 ‘Not a good birthday present; I knew I was in trouble then.’
Colin was referred to the Andrew Love Centre. He clearly remembers the radiologist’s words: ‘Colin we cannot cure you…but our job is to keep you alive as long as possible.’ He commenced radiation treatment daily for thirty days. The radiologist advised that he had a 70% chance of the radiation being successful. Following the radiation, Colin’s PSA had dropped to 0.3.
Colin was informed that a local trial was being undertaken. This was to establish the difference between early or late hormone treatment intervention. He chose to be a participant and joined the late intervention group – that meant no treatment for 18 months. He continued to have PSA tests every three months, and these showed his PSA doubling every four and a half months. At the end of the trial period it had reached 19.
In 2010 Colin commenced Lucrin hormone-deprivation treatment. Whilst on the Lucrin, he also participated in the “Man Plan” program at a local gym. It was during these gym visits that Colin met Geelong Prostate Support Group leaders Bruce and Roger, and they introduced Colin to the Geelong PSG. He has attended meetings regularly since then. Colin has found attending the Geelong PSG meetings as being absolutely beneficial, particularly the knowledge that there are others in situations like his whom he can meet and talk with.
In 2011, after 3 months on Lucrin, Colin’s PSA was non-detectable and it stayed there for 12 months. He took a break from the Lucrin, but within three months the PSA had risen to 5. Back on the Lucrin again, Colin’s PSA only went down to 1.2.
In Mid-2012 it was decided to change from Lucrin to Firmagon. However, neither the Firmagon nor a range of other hormone-deprivation treatments had any effect. Colin’s PSA rose to about 26, and 7 treatments of radiation were given to the lower back. In early 2013 his PSA was down to 3.
By mid-2013 Colin was offered the opportunity to join an international Prostvac trial. He was told that he had a 60% chance of not receiving the placebo. He experienced no PSA improvement whilst on this trial, and assumes he was in the placebo group. The trial concluded in late 2014. In order to join the Prostvac trial, participants had to have the cancer metastasise. In Colin’s case the metastasis had occurred in his lower back, and this has since progressed.
With his PSA having risen above 50, Colin was advised to take Abiraterone. However prior to taking Abiraterone it is a requirement that chemotherapy treatment be undertaken. In January 2015 Colin had his first and last chemotherapy. Four days later he had a heart attack. Three months rest was ordered, and in this time Colin’s PSA reached 165. It was now time to commence Abiraterone. Colin took Abiraterone for three months, and the side-effects were so great that he was permanently fatigued; Colin struggled to get out of bed. With that treatment obviously unsuitable, Colin next tried Xtandi. This made him so sick that he had to cease taking it.
Currently Colin is not taking anything, and there are no other options but another shot at chemotherapy. He is often in severe pain and physical activity is very limited.
Colin has always been active in ‘doing things’ – odd jobs, working in the shed, fishing, and so on. Prostate cancer has had a massive impact on his life, ‘…now I just sit around the house, I’ve lost patience in fishing… I find it difficult doing anything…’ Colin does make a real effort to pursue a favourite hobby of gold prospecting, and he spends time doing that on weekends in Central Victoria with a friend.
Whilst no treatment has worked for Colin, ‘…I am still receptive to the fight; I’ll keep on fighting.’