Friday 25 March 2022

The Greatest hits of the Barnet Eye week - Day 4 - The Rog T Cancer Blogs

This week, I'm telling the story of some of the blogs I'm most proud of in the 14 years that I've been writing this blog. Never let anyone tell you that writing a blog is a waste of time. I know of at least three people who have had successful treatment for prostate cancer, which was caught at an early stage, as a direct result of this blog. I don't know what would have happened if they hadn't read the blog, but it would not have been good. Let me explain.

When I started writing the Barnet Eye in 2008, I had no intention at all of blogging about health issues. I have no qualifications in health and I was in pretty good health. I was going to the gym regularly and playing football twice a week. As we had a dog, I was also exercising every day on a nice walkies. What could possibly go wrong? Well sometime in the early summer of 2011, I hurt my knee playing football. It didn't get better. I went to the doctor and they suggested that as I was 49, a "health MOT" would be in order. So I was booked in and a swathe of blood tests and other checks were done. All were fine, apart from a slightly raised PSA. I wasn't worried, by my doctor suggested a course of anti biotics and a follow up. An infection could raise the PSA level. A few weeks later, I went for a follow up. It had gone up. I was not concerned. I was referred to Barnet General urology. A biopsy was recommended. I had it and was supremely confident that they'd find nothing. Sadly I was wrong. I had prostate cancer. On 8th November 2011, I was told and I wrote THIS BLOG DETAILING MY FEELINGS. My wife was not chuffed with me. She felt such things should not be talked about, but I took the view that maybe I could extract something good from the episode. on the 2oth November, I started the ROG T CANCER BLOG series. Reading it back, it is rather preachy, very worthy and if someone else had written it, I'd have found it incrfedibly irritating. It reminds me of the sort of things people write when they've first discovered Christianity and are in the full thrall of evangelism. I like to think that I started to get it right as I went along.

To start with I was on what was called active surveillence. This is when there is a cancer but it is not deemed dangerous, but needs to be kept an eye on. I was having quarterly PSA tests and annual MRI or prostate biopsies. In 2015, the news was not good. It had started to 'develop'. This meant treatment was an required. In January 2016, I had an experimental HIFU treatment. Thus far, it has kept the problem at bay. I don't have any medication or ongoing problems.

So that is the story of the cancer, but more importantly from my perspective, is the effect writing the blog had. The thing that heartened me most was the reaction of many male friends, acquantances and casual readers of the blog. I've had a whole host of emails from people thanking me for the blogs. Friends who I've never discussed health issues with have opened up. I've pointed one or two at better (for them) treatment options, explained that my plumbing still works post HiFu and generally supported them. Three people told me that the blog inspired them to get a PSA test and as a result had treatment because an undetected and non symptomatic cancer was growing. As they caught it early, the problem was resolved. The thought that at least three people will not succumb to prostate cancer. 

If I've done nothing else in my life, that is a good thing. As I said at the start of this blog, don't let anyone ever tell you that writing blogs is a waste of time.  Oh, and if you are over 50 and haven't had a PSA get one, if you have any symptoms of Prostate cancer, such as difficulty wee'ing or blood when you pee, please see your doctor. I don't want your thanks, I just want you to be OK.

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