For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 51 years old and in October 2011 I had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0. My latest PSA test in January was a slight improvement, down to 3.8, in other words the downward trend has stopped. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?
As there is a bit of extra interest in the blog now, I thought I'd use the opportunity to give all of my new readers some good news about Cancer. Here is the good news part 1. Did you know that there are more people alive, living with cancer today than the sum total of everyone who has died of the disease since the human race first emerged?
Sadly there is some bad news. Most of us don't know. Now the even sadder news. Those of us who don't know are at grave risk of not finding out until it is too late.
Now here is the good news (part 2). Most of the people who have cancers have forms which are detectable by simple tests. So you are lucky enough to be living in an age when your cancer can be caught and treated before it kills you. However that will require some work on your part. IT means that you have to go to the doctor, discuss your risk factors and see if there is a test which may help you to catch the disease early. Generally early enough to get a good outcome is before you have symptoms. Once you start seeing symptoms, your chances start decreasing. Doesn't mean it is necessarily a death sentence, but catch it early and you are in afar better positiion. If you have cancers in your family, you really should discuss this with your doctor. It is scary, but it is far less scary to be told you have a treatable cancer than an untreatable one. So get on down to the doctor.
Sadly there is bad news. Some of you will read this and for whatever reason, not bother to get checked out. The really bad news is that this may kill you, rob your children of a parent, your parents of a child and your friends of a mate. It ain't just lazy, it can be selfish to bury your head in the sand!
Now here is the good news (part 3). Fifty years ago the only successful treatment for cancer was radical surgery. Now there are all manner of treatments. Every day we hear of new drugs and treatments. On top of that we understand the lifestyle choices that can help us reduce our risk of cancer. So there are two ways you can avoid cancer if you are healthy right now. I'd recommend both. Firstly, do all you can to avoid things that cause cancer. Cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption, non organic food with pesticide residue, are all things which increase your chances of getting cancer. Eating five portions of fruit/veg a day, red berries, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, freen tea, pomegranite juice are all things which have been shown to decrease the probability that you will develop cancer. The other thing you can do is contribute to Cancer Research UK, who are funding development of treatments. If you are healthy today, think of it as an investment in your future.
Sadly most of you won't change your lifestyle and won't donate anything to Cancer Research UK. I read an article that said that 95% of funds for cancer charities come from people who have been directly affected by Cancer in the last 2 years. In other words, we get busy when the horse has already bolted. If we all realised that we are all at risk, we'd all give more and we'd save more people from a horrible death. I should know, I thought I was invincible. When I went for the results of my prostate biopsy in 2011, it never occurred to me that they'd say "Mr Tichborne, you have cancer" and give me the pack of documents for counselling and backup services. I thought it only happened to other people. As I said at the start there are more people alive with Cancer today than have died of it in the history of the human race, If I live to 94, the age my great grandfather lived to, I will probably see a situation where 90% of cancers which are fatal today will be treatable. If I live until the age my Dad died at 69, the figure is likely to be 50%. If we all gave 1% of our annual income to Cancer charities, those figures would be 75% for my Dads age and 95% by my Great Grandads age, maybe even more.
So if you've just turned up at this blog to see what all the fuss is about, now you know. I'm the bloke who writes long rambling blogs, for your "enjoyment" about my illness. I hope you have enjoyed it, but more than that, I hope I've given you something to think about and a reason to do something which may make your life immeasuarably better in the long term. Let me let you in on a little secret. In 2011 when I got the bad news, I vowed to change my lifestyle and give my body the best possible chance of beating the disease. I follow an anti cancer diet and I have made efforts to lose weight and stay fit. The net result is my PSA is lower than when I was diagnosed and my last biopsie showed no change. I actually feel better and more healthy than I have for years. Sadly not everyone gets that