Paul had followed the protocol and visited his GP every year for blood tests from the age of 49 to ensure he was staying on top of his health. A few years later Paul was diagnosed with prostate cancer but due to his routine checks, he was able to come of the other side of the disease.
Originally diagnosed with prostate cancer in May 2019, Paul had no symptoms at all to be concerned about. From the age of 49, he had been taking his GP’s advice and went in annually for his bloods and PSA test. It’s this simple habit that saved Paul’s life.
From the age of 49, Paul’s PSA level was steadily rising each year and in early 2019, his PSA became a cause of concern and he was referred to the Mater’s rapid access clinic for further tests.
“My uncle had passed away from prostate cancer in November 2018 and that was really the kick I needed to get in gear and start taking my health seriously. All the way up along my PSA had been rising but it wasn’t of concern until 2019 and when the tests came back came back a few days before my 55th birthday confirming I had prostate cancer, I just wanted to get it out of me.”
Paul was officially diagnosed with prostate cancer in May of 2019 and had his robotic surgery to remove the gland a few months later in September 2019.
“I was given the option of surgery or radiotherapy but there just seemed to be a lot more chances of things going wrong with that route, so I chose the nerve sparing surgery to try and minimise future complications. Obviously, there are side effects that everyone knows about, the incontinence and things like that, but for us it was just the better option.”
“The thing with cancer is, you just want it out of you. I was really lucky that before I had my surgery, I joined the Arc Cancer Support Centre in Eccles’ Street and got to chat to some men who had been through the rigmarole of treatment and it was a big help to me facing in to it. I’ll never be able to thank them, or my amazing family, for the amount of support them have given me through all this.”
Due to Paul’s family history of cancer, not only through his uncle but his cousin and maternal grandfather, Paul was at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. That is why knowing your risk and seeking medical advice when you reach the age of 50, or 45 with a family history is so vital.
After his surgery, Paul was out of work for 10 weeks to allow his body to recover, but thankful is now back to his old self again. While he still experiences side effects as a result of his treatment, Paul feels immensely lucky to be in the position he is in today.
“It was never really a question for me that I would survive this. My youngest has just started secondary school and my other kids are still at home. They need their father to be there for them and to help them along as they learn to navigate life. I just feel so lucky that I can be there for them and now we don’t even use the ‘C Word’ in my house. I’m fortunate it’s behind me now.”
When asked what he wanted to men to learn from his story, Paul said simply “get yourself checked out. You get your car serviced regularly, do the same for your body. It’s such a small thing and under no circumstances should you not be getting that check in every year when you turn 50.”
“I think of it as ‘You never miss the water till the well runs dry’ and it’s the same with your health. You don’t realise how lucky you really are until your faced with something like this, but cancer isn’t a death sentence anymore. Speak to your friends, shout across the road to your neighbours. If you don’t know about it, you can do nothing about it. That’s my opinion”
If you have a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer, you are 2.5 times more likely to develop the disease in your lifetime. To learn more about the link associated with prostate cancer and family history, please visit www.mariekeating.ie