This was to be my second talk at the ‘Shree Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan Temple’ or otherwise known as SKSST. I had spoken to the organiser a little while after the first chat and she had me in mind for another. I had told her she just needed to invite me, and it was that pesky little thing called Covid that had shunted it back a couple of years.
The Sunday of the talk just happened to coincide with a partial tube strike. Nope, was not thinking that that was going to be any sort of sign. The temple is based in Northwest London and there was also a major cup final going on at Wembley which was likely to clobber me on the way back, but I was remaining positive.
I was half an hour late, not for my actual talk but for the earlier time they wanted all the speakers to be there. There were to be twelve talks in total ranging from basic first aid, diabetes prevention to Autism, ranging from 15 to 30 minutes in duration. I was escorted to the main hall through a labyrinth of corridors and stairs. It seemed to have changed a bit since I was last there. With a few new buildings. Then we walked into the hall. It was chaotic, noisy, and packed. They had health checks (blood pressure, weight, height, bpm checks etc) on one side of the room and the talks in a seated area on the other side of the room. The queues of men, women and teenagers, snaked around the best part of the room. They would confirm later that one hundred people had signed up but just over two hundred attended. I sat down to try and listen to the talk already going on and third in the line up. He was doing his best against an uninterested crowd. There was seating for at least one hundred people, but he had twenty people struggling to hear him talk about Diabetes prevention. I really felt for him as he gave it his best shot. Looking down at the rota I was the final speaker. I had hoped that by then everyone would have had their medical check and would be ready to listen.
What could go wrong eh?
By now they had also worked out a number system where the people would be called up when it was their turn. The next two talks were better attended but were completely in Indian, other than the odd word or phrase in English. That was a pity as the topics were interesting. We continued down the schedule and I finally noticed something.
The room was emptying as opposed to more people sitting down to listen to the health talks.
We broke for lunch downstairs and when we returned, twenty minutes later there weren’t more than forty people left in the hall and only about twenty for my talk.
I learned a long time ago that it’s pointless talking to a room with a hundred people if it affects no-one. If I can get one person out of twenty to go and get a test, then I have done well. I had my talk and other than feeling a little rusty it went well. Afterwards I was approached by two men. The first guy said he was going for a health blood test and wanted to confirm that the PSA will not be a part of it. I confirmed what I had said in the chat and then he asked about natural alternatives for treating prostate cancer.
I told him about my most recent discussion about natural remedies.
A friend asked me if I would speak to her friend whose husband had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Absolutely no problem, anything I can do to help anyone.
The husband had previously had a kidney transplant, so that had ruled him out for radiotherapy treatment. The doctors then said he could have focal therapy. Focal therapy is a minimally invasive procedure, done via keyhole and robotically or using High intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU). It targets just the cancerous part of the prostate while leaving the rest of the prostate and the nerves alone. However, after further consultation the doctors decided this option was not viable either as cancer was detected on both sides of the prostate. The couple were not happy with this decision and believe it was more of a financial consideration. The husband is adamant that he does not want it removed.
Therefore, they have decided that they are going to go the natural route and have already spoken to someone ‘versed’ in prostate cancer ‘alternative stuff’ (her words) and so they will be seeing him.
“And anyway, even having the focal treatment could cause incontinence problems as it’s so close to the nerve. So, in a way it’s a blessing in disguise to be honest.”
I realised that countering all her points would only come off as combative as this ‘au naturelle’ malarky is my particular nemesis. She was wrong on that major part as the nerves have nothing to do with incontinence. But I let it slide.
I asked how confident she was about au naturelle and this person ‘versed’ in prostate cancer.
“Well, you should be familiar with the Gleason report and my husband’s is only 3+4 and he said that that is actually not that bad”, she said.
Doctor Donald Gleason created the Gleason Score in the 1960’s. The pathologist looking at the biopsy sample will assign two figures to it. The first is to the most prominent pattern and the second figure is to the second most prominent pattern. Cancerous cells fall into 5 distinct patterns as they mutate from normal cells to tumour cells. They are graded from 1 to 5. 1 being normal and 5 being high grade mutations. The figures are then added together to give you an overall score.
Naturally, you don’t want either of the figures to be 5.
The 3+4 is the same score that I achieved, it is stage 2 cancer and 7 is an intermediate grade. It means it’s at a good stage for treatment as the cancer is growing slowly. The husband’s cancer is on both sides of the prostate and it’s not at a good stage for the au naturelle witch doctor to peddle his opinion.
Husband is adamant that the prostate is not coming out.
Then she mentioned the moringa leaves and my personal favourite Soursap or Graviola.
My guard slipped when I said “That Soursap nonsense” and continued with all. I have ever asked someone to do is just show me one research paper or explain to me why in the countries where this fruit is abundant, they continue to have some of the highest incidents of prostate cancer in the world. In fact, there is an interesting article on my favourite fruit by Cancer Research UK here.
She ummed in response a number of times and said it was better for prevention rather than cure. I gave up and we remained at polar opposites. We said our goodbyes.
The poor guy probably wasn’t expecting such a long explanation, but he was still there and smiling when I had finished, so it couldn’t have been badly received.
The second guy was an older chap who was is on active surveillance. He showed me the form with all his PSA readings and the dates. He was happy with how it was all going and thanked me for the chat. He also found time to show me a list of all the other medications he was taking. He then asked if Viagra would be safe for him. Not missing a beat, I asked him what his doctor told him. His doctor said it would be fine for a special occasion, like going on holiday he could take one.
Once a month, I thought, just how old are you?
With a twinkle in his eye, he said he had much younger wife. Momentarily, I tried to guess how old he was but decided I would leave that one right there.
Dirty old bugger, but one after my heart.
Just another day at the office.