From the exclusive gentleman’s clubs that would not allow women to join to the golf clubs that would not allow black players to play. There are many clubs throughout the world that people have fought, long and hard to join and a few that people don’t want to be a part of.
There are three that I definitely don’t want to be a part of either the 14,000 club, the radiation and hormone therapy club or the 94% club.
Some of the guys that I had run the 10km with back in November, visited the offices of Prostate Cancer UK. We were doing an official photoshoot with the cheque for £6K that we had raised. It was great to get together again. Most of us had not met since the run and it was great to finally be back in their offices. Their current campaign is about a very distressing ‘club’. That would be the estimated 14,000 men that missed out on prostate cancer checks because of the pandemic. As we know the key to successfully beating prostate cancer is the earliest intervention possible, it’s with a heavy heart. I think of all those men that have missed out or are facing a backlog in getting any kind of test.
No offence to the better half of the human race but a few weeks ago I was staring in the face, the prospect of joining the female race. My PSA had jumped up and I was looking at radio therapy and hormone treatment. I had taken instant and drastic measures. No red meat, no dairy, no chocolate, sweets, and my beloved ice cream. Exercise wise, I am running 5K, three times a week. Today, I would find out if my efforts had made a difference.
The telephone appointment was for 10am. At 10.45am I decided to give them a call. After twenty minutes on hold an overly helpful receptionist told me that I had to just be patient as the staff were making phone appointments in and around their face to face meetings.
Right, I will just put my day on hold then.
It was about 15 minutes later that the phone finally rang. For the last three years, I had been under the care of some sort of female senior ‘practice nurse’ so I was a little surprised when a male voice was on the other end of the line. I didn’t catch the first few words, but I got the words “Cathcart” and “I performed your operation in 2018”
I was stunned for a few seconds and then a massive smile filled my silly little face.
The last time I had spoken or seen to this man was the day of my operation despite my best efforts. I had just woken up, afraid to move with me being bashed up, the King attached to a catheter, a tube coming out of my side and the lower half of me covered in bandages. He told me the operation was tricky. My prostrate was pretty bashed up and they had to slow things right down and remove it. He then told me the only thing I really wanted to hear. He had managed to save both nerve bundles. I couldn’t do much other than offer him a fist bump and he laughed and returned it, akin to giving the queen a high and low five.
I told how great it was to hear from him and instantly reminded him that I had been trying to get hold of him for an interview for this blog. He promised that we should get that done and he was going to make sure that I was the last appointment for that particular morning for our follow up.
With all the diet changes I had made and the exercise I was expecting a change in my favour. There was the odd moment I got carried away and though someone was going to tell me that I had halved my PSA again.
Yeah right. I had actually managed to increase the [insert swear word] thing. It had gone up by 0.01 to 0.11. What Mr Cathcart said though was that in reality it had going risen by 0.05 in four years so we would not be looking at radiation therpy just yet and leave it and have a look again in three months.
He then asked my how my continence was. I told him it took 275 days and I have not had to wear a single pad since. As I was saying that I thought about my friends husband who is still completely incontinent and is managing his water intake to handle it.
Then the shocker came, like a freight train. He asked me if I could get an erection and if it was good enough for penetrative sex. I said yes to both and I was at about 80-90% pre-operation. He said that was really good because the nation average (not his boys – patients) was 6%.
I shouted out as I repeated the number.
The national average for men regaining full penetrative capability after the radical operation was only 6%.
94% of men who have the radical operation cannot have penetrative sex afterwards. Words fail me.
We exchanged a few more pleasantries and went our separate ways.
You know I have been doing this for 4 years now and I have never seen that statistic anywhere. Is it hidden? I continue to ponder that question. That figure would devastate any man hearing it. Would I have opted for the operation if I knew that figure?
More importantly, going forward would I ever share that with any man in any of my talks?
I have to be honest and say that I would be afraid to, but I have prided myself on my transparency.
What a massive conundrum and that’s putting it lightly.
Oh, and I got my late morning appointment, for June.