Peter is 77 years old. He came to Geelong to work for Target as Advertising Manager, and stayed with the Company for sixteen years. He went on to be self-employed as a graphic designer until retiring when he was 65.
Early in 2015 Peter and his wife Yvonne went on a cruise, and at the time he recognised that he had problems with urinary frequency. “… maybe it was linked to us being constantly surrounded by all that water!”
After returning from the cruise Peter saw his GP, and was referred on to a urologist.
The urologist did a DRE, and conducted flow, retention and capacity tests. “I failed them all!” reports Peter.
During the DRE the urologist said that he could feel a lump, and suggested that it could possibly be cancer; a biopsy and scan were arranged to confirm. A TURP was also advised in order to increase urinary flow, capacity and control.
Peter had the biopsy, and returned to the urologist along with his wife and two adult daughters. “We wanted to be sure that we all heard the same story at the same time.” Having had his family accompany him on that visit, “… it is something that I would highly recommend for anyone in that situation.”
The urologist began by stating that “… this is not the news that I wanted to tell you.”
Peter was informed that the biopsy revealed prostate cancer. He had a Gleason Score of 8 and a PSA of 10.1
The scan revealed that the cancer was no longer contained within the prostate, and that secondary cancers were present in five other parts of Peter’s body including his shoulder, spine and arm.
Peter was immediately put on to taking hormone deprivation tablets, which had a very quick effect.
Peter’s urologist suggested a team approach would be most appropriate in dealing with his prostate cancer. As well as the urologist, there would be an oncologist and an endocrinologist.
Peter’s urologist told him of some recent research out of the US which showed that if chemotherapy was introduced earlier, and in conjunction with hormone deprivation therapy, it could provide a better long-term result. It was suggested that Peter talk with his oncologist about this form of treatment. The oncologist advised that Peter was well enough to handle it. “I figured that it was better to do it now because in five years’ time I might not be able to cope with it; I decided to give it a go.”
Peter began the chemotherapy treatment in December 2015, “…a really good time to start; two weeks before Christmas!!” He had 6 cycles, each about two hours, and three weeks apart. By the time he commenced the chemotherapy, Peter’s PSA had gone down to 0.08 which he attributes to the hormone therapy which included taking Zoladex.
“The chemo side effects really knocked me around. After the first dose I reckon I had every side- effect on the list. Tinea, conjunctivitis, thrush, fatigue, hair loss…..I am still affected in some ways. My taste is still not what it used to be; during the chemo it was terrible. My finger and toe nails are getting back to normal”.
Today Peter’s PSA is undetectable, and has been for the past six months. “As far as I am concerned, the cancer is now pretty much a non-event. But of course the continuing medication and tests remind me that it is still lurking in the background”.
Peter undertook the St John of God oncology rehabilitation program, and would recommend it to anyone who undergoes cancer treatment. The program ran for six weeks, twice a week with two-hour sessions. The program included access to a range of health professionals including physiotherapists, dietitian, sleep therapist, occupational therapist, a hospital pharmacist, a music therapist and others.
Peter attends most meetings of the Geelong Prostate Support Group. He first became aware of the Group when his urologist’s nurse suggested he might attend a meeting. “All of a sudden you discover that you can talk to strangers about private issues that they understand, and without any inhibitions.”
As mentioned earlier, Peter was required to have a TURP, and during this procedure it was discovered that his urethra “… had a very tortuous path through my kidney.” The urologist had to undertake the TURP also through his back, and into the top of his kidney and insert a stent. Not everything is fully fixed, but Peter and Yvonne are off on a cruise next month!
Peter has truly appreciated all the support that he has received from his wife, his daughters and their husbands, neighbours, friends and also from his church community, and of course from the medical profession and members of the Support Group.
In his spare time Peter continues to enjoy plying his graphic design skills, particularly in creating cards. He and Yvonne have a holiday house on a few acres at Merrijig, and enjoy time there. Peter and Yvonne love travel, though this has been curtailed over the past couple of years as he has contended with his prostate cancer.