Dad, His Prostate Cancer and Me.

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Why is that the sun always seems to shine when we get the worst news?

My dad had been suffering from horrendous back pain for months. His GP initially diagnosed a frozen shoulder and prescribed painkillers but the pain got worse and the painkillers weren’t touching it. His GP then decided it must be a slipped disc and Dad was sent to a specialist who ran some tests..

One beautiful summers day – we got the results.

I will never forget that day because it was also my 26th birthday.

I drove Mum and Dad to the hospital. We were laughing and joking in the waiting room but in a short time it would all change and our lives would be turned upside down.

Cancer.

That dreaded word.

‘Some bad news I’m afraid.. it’s cancer!’

With the consultant’s words echoing in our ears we walked out into the corridor in a state of shock and disbelief.

My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was referred to the relative consultant who decided to treat his cancer with hormones.

Unfortunately it was a case of ‘too little too late’ as the cancer was already spreading into his bones, which explained the back pain. And it was aggressive. So aggressive that from diagnosis to death took just 6 months.

My didn’t talk about illness. He was old school. If he was aware of a problem with his waterworks in the early stages, he didn’t talk about it but I do remember him becoming extremely agitated one day when we were out in the car because he suddenly needed to wee. This was in the previous summer. The signs were there.

Prostate Cancer – The Facts

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK with over 40.000 men being diagnosed each year.
  • It usually develops slowly.
  • Symptoms often only become apparent when the prostate is large enough to affect the Urethra…at this point symptoms like an increased need to wee, straining while urinating and a feeling that the bladder hasn’t emptied properly.

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean it’s cancer – it can be due to other things like an enlarged prostate.

Prostate Cancer – The Causes

  • Age – most cases are in men 50+.
  • It’s more common in men of African descent.
  • Men who have father’s or brothers with prostate cancer have a slightly higher risk.
  • Men who exercise are at lower risk of developing it…not to mention other health problems!
  • Diet – There is evidence to suggest that foods rich in calcium, burnt food, red meat, excessive alcohol and saturated fat may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Dad was one of the unlucky ones. A combination of pissing about (no pun intended) with diagnosis’s and his old fashioned attitude towards his own health cut his life short at 58 years of age.

 

The cancer aged him in that way that sickness ages people but he was destined never to reach old age and even now  it makes me feel incredibly sad to be without him.

He faced this bastard of a disease with the same outlook that he’d had all his life – “It’ll be OK”.

But it wasn’t going to be OK.

How could it ever be OK?

My dad was one of the nicest blokes you could hope to meet. His eyes twinkled and he’d a full on belly laugh – it was infectious!

I loved his laugh.

I loved him.

My eldest son was reminiscing about his grandad the other day and said that he could remember his wonderful laugh. That’s a great thing to be remembered for isn’t it?

And my dad laughed a lot, even with cancer rampaging through his body. It was his way of coping. It was his way of saying, “Sod you, Cancer!” He took the disease on but he was never going to win the battle.

But cancer could only take his body because the spark, which was my Dad, remained until the end.

Sadly, my story is one of loss but yours doesn’t have to be.

I have written this post in the hope that it will help to spread awareness of this type of cancer.

Be cancer aware because it may save your life or the life of someone you love.

Thank you for reading.

Some Useful Links

http://prostatecanceruk.org/

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Prostate/Prostatecancer.aspx

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“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stop The Clocks

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Chris Evans was discussing death and planning your own funeral on his Twitter page the other day and it got me thinking about*whispers* croaking…

You know…being deceased, having departed, cashing in one’s chips, popping one’s clogs, pushing up the daises, sleeping with the fishes,  joining the choir invisible and (my personal favourite) carking it. All phrases that mean the same thing… to die or be dead. By this I mean biological death.. the one that you don’t come back from. With clinical death there’s always a chance that you can be fired back up again. Mr Sam Parnia thinks that maybe in twenty years time resuscitation could take place 12 or even 24 hours after death. That aint resuscitation…that’s resurrection! Sounds a bit iffy to me but maybe if I’m still here in 20 years, I might come round to the idea.

I haven’t written down my wishes for when I die, I keep meaning to but it’s not the jolliest of subjects is it-Death? It tends to be a “Oooh lets talk about something else yer morbid bugga”. I know that I said words to this effect every time Ma reminded me where ‘the info that you will need should I die tin’ was. I’d tut and say “Shurrup Ma, don’t be so morbid… have another gin!”

But opening that old tin and reading through her wishes helped us immensely. It was one burden less to bear and I want to do that for my children.

My early menopause has made me think a lot about death. I know that sounds silly, the menopause is a natural part of every woman’s life after all, but the menopause typically occurs during the late 40’s and early 50’s, I am 43. That sucks a bit to be honest but I’m alive, always a plus. Natural stage of life it may well be, but the menopause brings with it some serious long term risks such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Oestrogen helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, but during the menopause levels of oestrogen fall and so the risk to the heart increases. Of course there are steps that I can take to minimise the effects, (and I will take them), but psychologically it’s a different matter. I have changed quite dramatically in the space of four years and, for the first time in my life, I am having to acknowledge, (albeit grudgingly), my own mortality. It waves at me in the mirror cooing “Yoo-hoo dearie, tick tock”.

And I think “Shiiiiiiiiiit!”

How did this happen? One minute I’m snogging Adam Ant on my bedroom wall and stressing over what colour nail varnish to wear and the next…WALLOP!. Hormones have done an Elvis and left the building.

The night that I experienced the mofo of all panic attacks, (and thought I was dying), I remember thinking that I hadn’t written my wishes down and couldn’t possibly die without my family knowing how much I love them, (and which Duran Duran track to play at my funeral). So one of these days I will sit down with a glass of wine and I will write it all down and I will sort out a will and can I possibly get any more wills into this sentence?

I’ll gently weep at the thought of my demise and wonder if anyone will turn up to see me off or will they have to drag somebody in off the street, but it won’t be easy. Death isn’t an easy subject. As a nation we don’t do death too well, we avoid it, we ignore it and we don’t think about it, but in my experience death sometimes finds us when we least expect it to. Sometimes we get a warning, sometimes there’s none. We are born and so we will die, but does it have to be such a taboo subject?

I want to have a good funeral. I’ve never been able to have parties because of my sensory issues but they won’t be a problem when I’m dead so I can flit about the gaff earwigging at what the family is saying about me, maybe chuck some peanuts at people who aren’t crying enough. I want it to be a celebration of my life, people celebrated when I came into the world, well maybe the parents and grandparents did, the bruvs were a bit gutted though…

I hope I’m here for many years yet. I want to be a pain in the arse to my kids and grow old disgracefully. I want to be a nana, I will be a cool nana. ‘Nana Cool’ they will call me. I’ll wear a hat (knitted or somat that requires a large pin in it), I’ll knit jumpers with their initials on and teach them Duran Duran songs, ( All She Wants Is for grandaughters and Wild Boys for grandsons), see I’ve got it all worked out. They will tell me how cool I am and I will buy them forbidden sweeties and smile innocently as they are dragged off kicking and screaming towards the car.

But I’ll get my plan done. It’ll be my funeral and in the words of Simon, John, Andy, Nick and Roger…it will be done ‘My Own Way’.

So how about you. Have you planned your funeral yet? Or do you think it’s too morbid a subject to contemplate?

“You’ll stay with me?’
Until the very end,’ said James.”

J K Rowling ~ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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