In 2000 whilst travelling in Spain, Morocco and the UK, Graeme realized that something was wrong. He had developed a constant need to urinate. He jokes that he developed a new interest in botany on this trip, as he constantly snuck away behind trees and scrub for a pee!
When Graeme and his wife, Wilma, returned from that trip an appointment was quickly made to see his GP. A DRE was done and declared OK, but a PSA test was also ordered. With a PSA score of 44, Graeme was referred to a urologist. The urologist advised a biopsy, and the result came back with a Gleason score of 6.
Graeme asked the urologist what he would have done if he was in the same situation. The urologist advised that if it were him he would:
- Remove the pelvic lymph glands as the prostate cancer may have spread here.
- Following that surgery he should have a Zoladex hormonal implant to shrink the prostate.
- Following that he should have 35 external beam radiation doses.
Graeme chose to proceed with the urologist’s advice.
Some weeks later, Graeme began with the surgery. Lymph glands were removed. Pathology results showed that there was no cancer. The urologist was happy with that result.
Unfortunately Graeme would remain in hospital for another 30 days. In that time he would have 3 operations for continual lymphatic fluid loss, as well as 2 pelvic hernia operations – one on each side. Following the return home, Graeme had daily visits from the district nurse to assist with drainage.
In June 2000, after 3 months of Zoladex hormone treatment to shrink the size of the prostate, Graeme was deemed ready to proceed with the external beam radiation.
This was to be achieved in 35 daily visits. After 30 visits Graeme wanted it ceased “….it was cooking my guts.” He required serious encouragement to complete those final five treatments.
Graeme notes that he was given no information about the various side effects of the radiation treatment. At one stage his platelet (red blood cells) count dropped to a seriously low score of 49.
Post radiation, Graeme’s PSA score was 0.3. However, it continued to increase, and by early 2003 it had become clear that the radiation had not worked.
Graeme was put on hormone treatment, and has been for the past 12 years. His PSA is under control, and he attributes this to a combination of the hormone treatment and strict care with his diet.
Having become increasingly frustrated with often conflicting advice from specialists, Graeme decided that ‘…it was time to go it alone. I had had enough.’ He has become pro-active in actively seeking dietary and other responses to achieving good health. ‘Whilst some might describe them as extreme and way-out, the inclusion of apricot kernels, flaxseed, turmeric, cinnamon, soy products and vitamin supplements as well as omitting dairy and processed foods. He says this has been quite beneficial.’ Two years ago Graeme became involved in a trial of prostate cancer treatment called Sonolux, which used sound and light to target the cancer. It did not help.
Graeme describes getting this cancer as being ‘a real plus’. ‘A positive has come out of it’. The way he now lives and enjoys his life has really changed. He values many of the things that he previously took for granted. He thoroughly enjoys his active life of sailing, cross-country skiing, ocean kayaking, surfing and travel. He also enjoys natural history, and is actively involved in conservation.
Graeme says “Thanks to my wife Wilma, and the members of this fine support group (Geelong PSG).”