Ivan is 74 years old. He was born in Croatia and came to Australia in 1945. He retired aged 63 after having worked for forty years in Quality Assurance with Ford. Ivan is married and has five children and thirteen grandchildren, all in Geelong.
In 2013 Ivan’s doctor undertook a routine blood test, and his PSA was 4.17. Further blood tests indicated that it was rising steadily and by March 2017 it was 31. Ivan’s doctor decided that it was time for a referral to a urologist.
Ivan attended his first urologist appointment and was given a DRE. He was told that a lump could be felt. A biopsy was also organised and another blood test showed a PSA now at 36.
Following the hospital biopsy Ivan’s urologist called him, “I am sorry but I have some bad news. You have prostate cancer.”
Ivan had a Gleason score of 8, and he was then directed to have a PSMA PET scan in Melbourne. He was very relieved when the scan results showed no metastatic disease. His urologist provided Ivan with a range of options to deal with the (contained) prostate cancer. After discussing it with family and friends, and because it was aggressive cancer, Ivan opted for a radical prostatectomy.
The surgery took place in late April 2017, and Ivan spent five days in hospital. He remembers his urologist saying, “The surgery was difficult, but it looks like we have got it all.”
Ivan returned home and had a catheter for two weeks. After the catheter was removed it was obvious that Ivan had severe post-operative incontinence. He saw a urology physiotherapist and commenced a regular exercise program to improve pelvic floor strength. Whilst he still experiences incontinence Ivan has made great progress.
In August 2017 Ivan had a PSMA PET scan, and again it showed no evidence of metastatic cancer. “I was so relieved that it was all clear.”
In November 2017, following some rectal bleeding, Ivan had a colonoscopy. The surgeon noted a significant lump and noted that there was a 50/50 chance that it could be cancer. Two weeks later he had surgery to remove a short segment of his colon. (Colonoscopies in 2018 and 2019 showed no problems).
Following the bowel surgery in late 2017 Ivan’s urologist advised that there was in fact metastatic cancer. The urologist advised Ivan to commence Lucrin hormone treatment prior to a course of radiation treatment.
Ivan had 34 sessions of radiation daily Monday to Friday, and this was completed in early 2018.
In November 2018 Ivan had another PET scan, and this showed metastatic cancer in his shoulder and back. Further radiation was used to successfully treat these. However, a further PET scan showed new cancer in the bones. Further, Ivan’s PSA was steadily rising.
In May 2019 Ivan commenced nine cycles of chemotherapy. After completing this his PSA dropped, but it has started rising again. This will continue to be monitored, and Ivan has been told that there will likely be recurrences, that his situation is not dire and that other treatments are available.
“My advice is not to give up; don’t lie around on the couch; remain active.”
Ivan’s daughter had heard about the Geelong Prostate Support Group and advised him to go along to a meeting. “I have found it really helpful, especially hearing the stories and experiences of the other men. It has changed my outlook.” As well as attending Group meetings, Ivan enjoys the company of other members at the gym. He has adopted dietary advice from others.
Ivan is now in a “rest period” following all the radiation and chemotherapy “… and getting my energy back.” That energy is being directed to supporting grand-children and attending the gym three times a week. He is looking forward to being strong enough to soon have knee surgery, and also being able to return to playing golf. Ivan enjoys time in the garden, especially growing vegetables.
Ivan’s son-in-law Branko has been an enormous support to him throughout his cancer journey. Branko has attended all appointments and consultations and joins Ivan at Geelong PSG monthly meetings.