Steve is 57 years old. He has worked in the IT industry as a computer programmer, and is semi-retired, due to ill-health. He lived in Sydney for many years and moved to Melbourne in 2017.
In 2012 when he was 50, his optometrist suggested he see his GP and arrange a blood sugar test. Until he returned for the result, Steve was unaware that his GP had also included a number of additional routine tests. Whilst his blood sugars were fine, Steve was advised that his PSA was 20 – “I had never heard of PSA. I asked the doctor what it should be, and he said 2.” The GP then undertook a DRE, and commented “ … that doesn’t feel right at all.” Steve’s GP immediately rang a urologist, and an appointment was made for the following day.
When he met the urologist Steve received another DRE, and was again advised that “ … it does not feel good.” Further testing was arranged beginning with a bone scan. The scan revealed three metastases in Steve’s spine and pelvis. Next was a biopsy; twelve samples were taken and cancer was present in all – some 100% and all 50% or more. Steve had a very aggressive Gleason 4 + 5. He reflects on how lucky he was to have that optometrist advise a blood test – “He saved my life.”
With test results all in, and on 23 December 12, the urologist started Steve on ADT immediately, and advised radiation treatment followed by chemotherapy and then palliative care. The words “palliative care” came as quite a shock, quickly followed by the prognosis of “terminal”. Needless to say not much else of the consultation sunk in after that!
Looking for advice on what to do, Steve searched the web and found the PCFA site with information about prostate cancer and learned about Prostate Cancer Support Groups. He attended his first prostate support group meeting within a month of diagnosis. He credits attending support group meetings with saving his sanity.
Early in 2013 Steve had an appointment with his radiation oncologist. She explained to him that he had ‘oligometastatic disease’ – meaning a small number of metastases. Her advice was to treat each of the three metastases individually, often colloquially referred to as ‘spot welding.’
Steve sought a second opinion, to be reassured about this treatment plan. He had borrowed a video from his local Support Group of a presentation from a radiation oncologist from Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Dr Andrew Kneebone, and had a consultation with him. Dr Kneebone impressed Steve with his breadth of knowledge and ‘bedside manner’, so Steve decided to complete his treatment in the public system.
Assured that treatment was not urgent, Steve and his wife Leonie went on a 2-month holiday to Europe. Daily radiation treatments to his prostate finally commenced in October 2013 followed a few months later by stereotactic radiation to a lesion on his spine. By early 2014 Steve’s PSA had dropped to being undetectable. Hormone treatment continued for another twelve months, then ceased for twelve months before it began to rise again.
In late 2015 a PSMA scan detected a new lesion on his spine. This was treated with stereotactic radiation. This initially appeared successful but failed after about 6 months. It was decided to recommence ADT and add course of docetaxel chemotherapy in early 2017. The chemo treatment side effects were very severe, “It knocked me about to buggery.” The chemo treatment was successful and Steve’s PSA remained undetectable until late 2018. Steve is waiting for his PSA to rise sufficiently for a PSMA scan to identify the source of the PSA rise before deciding on his next course of treatment.
Steve and his wife Leonie moved down from Sydney to live in Eynesbury in 2017. Because of his previous rewarding experience with a support group in Sydney, he made contact with the Geelong Prostate Support Group, and attends most meetings.
Steve and Leonie enjoy travel. They travelled to Canada in late 2019 where they caught up with their daughter. This year a trip to Europe is planned. In his spare time Steve also enjoys reading and gardening, and he still engages in some freelance IT work. One day he plans to take up golf again, especially as he lives on a golf course!