106. Talk Until It Drops Out

GiraffeIt’s been a quiet month by my usual standards.

By that I mean I have not been chased by anything on four legs, anyone on two legs or anything else for that matter. This month has included quite a lot of talking about prostate cancer in one form or another.

Back in January this year, I did an Awareness talk at a company called Sapio. I was fed and watered, very nicely, which always bodes well. There were 16 people in the office, that day, and I had 100% attendance. I was on a roll. They were engaged and enjoyed the presentation as much as I enjoyed giving it.  That could have been the end of it but out of the blue I got a ping on LinkedIn that I had been tagged in a post. I usually get immediate feedback from the companies or associations that I speak at. Sapio, was no different on the day so this post was an amazing first that I will treasure.

I got a call from someone that had taken part in an online presentation that I did a couple of weeks ago. He had got on to the organiser and asked for my number to contact me. It turns out that he had already decided that he was going to have the radical operation and he just wanted to get my take on it. His sole reasoning for the operation seemed to be that he just ‘wanted it gone’.

“What was your experience of the procedure?” He asked me.

“It was horrendous, to sum it up in one word” I answered after a few seconds. I’m pretty sure that I had never used that word to describe it to someone before, but I didn’t want him to think it was a walk in the park either.

“Have you looked at the list of side effects for both this and radiotherapy and hormone treatment?” I asked him.

“No, I haven’t” he replied.

“You really need to look at the two treatment options and make a decision based on that”

For the rest of the conversation, I had to be careful that I remained neutral to the different options. Basically I didn’t rubbish one option in preference to another as he hadn’t looked into the other options available to him. I got a bit of respite when we ventured into one of my absolute favourite topics to do with prostate cancer – alternatives to surgery or radiation/hormone treatment.

He was going to venture down to Brixton to get some soursop. I have spoken before about this fruit and if you have not heard about it, this is one of the more balanced articles that I have heard about it.

I said to him that I was not the person to talk to about alternative/herbal alternatives as I have come across too many people who don’t know what they are talking about. I told him about my friend who had breast cancer and how she was milked of money and robbed of precious time by all these people. They were not shy in claiming that somehow, they had found the cure to breast cancer that had escaped the millions of real doctors working on it. When she finally did come around to seeing who and what they really were about, it was too late. I have had enough of people peddling their ideas and yet they don’t know what they are talking about. The only thing these people are successful at doing is taking the one thing that you don’t have which is time. I added that when someone starts to mention herbal remedies, I only ask three things:

  1. Is there an official clinical trial paper that can be seen?
  2. What is the dosage of the said miracle food?
  3. If the said miracle food is so great, i.e. soursop, why is it that in the countries that have it in abundance and for free they continue to have some of the highest instances of prostate cancer?

He answered and not answered by bringing up another favourite topic of the alternative brigade, the alkaline blood and diet. I just simply said the stomach contains the highly corrosive hydrochloric acid – how on earth are you going to make the blood alkaline? The blood is normally slightly alkaline and there is no way to make it more alkaline via food, even a cursory search online will tell you that but we are not talking about people who do their own research when they can just regurgitate something that they were told or found on some stupid tock tick video.

I remember telling myself to calm down. Deep breath son!

He put the icing on the cake by mentioning the great Dr Sebi. He was this great herbalist who started all of this apparently. He then mentioned an epic court case that he was involved in that cemented his legacy and was eventually ‘killed’ by big pharma to protect their profits. It was only because I was still working on something else at the same time that I listened to all of this gibberish.

As if someone said, this is fun, lets wack the hornets nest again before they settle down. A few days later, another friend sent me a link for a video, this time from Instagram. This man, no less a master Herbalist, (not even the standard variety of nut job – I should be honoured) has an explanation behind impotence, enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.

I too waited with bated breath to see if I could possibly patent his idea and steal it as my own and make my millions. His idea was breathtakingly simple – only a master herbalist can be trusted with such wisdom. It’s all down to how we use the toilet! Apparently, by sitting and not squatting over the toilet, we are allowing faecal matter to seep back into the prostate gland and therefore you have an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.

Drop mic moment!

So, you get prostate cancer from sitting on a toilet seat!

I had to watch it a couple of times. I number of thoughts, words and gestures ran through my head. None of them polite. It didn’t help that is was one of those split screen reposts where the sender has a split screen of themselves and their dumb facial responses. Why bother going to university and getting a degree or doctorate? Looking at the comments accompanying the video, people were actually lapping this bull up. I didn’t reply straight away, I had a life to get on with, but I found myself having to reply. I wrote to my friend that sent the video:

Good morning. See this is why you have to be careful about these crackpots chatting nonsense. The prostate has nothing to do with the bladder – they are not connected. Also, the countries where squatting would still be practised today i.e. non-western countries still have the highest incidents of prostate cancer.

Needless to say, I didn’t get a reply.

I completed my ‘one to one peer training’ for Prostate Cancer UK. I had to complete a CRB Check, some online courses and a 5 hour zoom course with a couple of other volunteers. The zoom meeting had the sections,

  1. Why do we want to do this and talking about fears/anxiety?
  2. How the service works
  3. What makes you open up to someone?
  4. The impact of prostate cancer – emotionally, financially, physically & socially
  5. How to respond to questions
  6. Telling your own story
  7. The types of questions to expect
  8. Boundaries and safeguarding
  9. Case studies

At the very end we had a question-and-answer session with a current ‘one to one peer’. We have a debrief questionnaire to complete after each talk and regular meetings with a supervisor. The whole process was very comprehensive, and I am looking forward to starting it.

I got a call from an old school friend that I had not heard from in years. I missed his first call and called him back two weeks later. We exchanged a bit of chit chat and when he asked how I was I told him I was fine and then thought what the heck, and told him my PSA had crept back up again and that I needed a course of radiotherapy. He was apologetic and didn’t know what to say. I said it is what it is and it’s fine. I asked him if he had been tested. I didn’t quite realise it at the time, but he actually managed to say something that no-one had ever said before.

“I’m taking preventative measures”, he replied.

I didn’t even take the bait and ask what these preventative measures were. It turns out the call wasn’t really social, he was a Jehovah Witness and was inviting me to something.

I was selling him a PSA test and he was selling me his religion. We spoke for a few more minutes, I was driving at the time, and he was heading out the door to go to a meeting. We ended with him promising to send me something.

As soon as I knew that radiotherapy was on the way, telling my eldest daughter was the bit that I was not looking forward to. She is a teacher, so I didn’t want to tell her during the school week, while she is working. The Easter holidays were then coming up, so I had planned to do it then. However, she went away on holiday, so I didn’t want to ruin her time away. I thought about going up to see her but the date I had in mind she had already made plans. I was being thwarted at every turn, so I just had to pick a day, as long as it was a Friday. I told her to listen carefully, and I gave her the story. I went back to when my PSA started to rise, what I had done to try and stop/reverse it and what would be happening with the radiotherapy. She cried throughout my explanation, but my attitude and confidence did help to ease her fears. We made plans to meet before the radiotherapy started, whenever that was. The next day she called me and said she had been given the next couple of days off and she wanted to meet up. We did just that and had a meal and went to watch a film. Her headteacher had also given her a week off to spend with me. She wants to come along to some of the appointments with me. I said the last two weeks of the treatment are likely to be the worse, so I am happy for her to wheel me around.

The kids indoors were somewhat easier to deal with. They were in the middle of watching one of their programs when I interrupted them. I asked Joel to go to his room and tidy up his Lego. He fired back with a bit of protest but off he went.

“Girls I need to tell you something. My prostate cancer is back again. It’s OK, nothing to worry about but I need to tell you because I need to have a course of radiotherapy and it might make me a bit sick”

They looked at each other, then they looked at their mum. They were also given permission to stop me or dispose of any of the contraband food items they saw me with. That amused them greatly.

“Do you have any questions?”

“Will it hurt?” Ayanna, the middle one asked.

“No, I don’t think so”

“Would you like a hug?” Amaris the eldest asked me.

“No, but would you go to the shop for me instead? I could really do with some chocolate”

I didn’t get anything from the shop, but I did get a hug.

I did two Awareness talks this month. The first was for a pupil referral group or PRU and the second was for a west Indian old soldier’s organisation. They both had about 20 people in attendance, including a number that were online. Both went very well and were well received.

The month was finished off with a call from Guys hospital. It was a someone from the radiotherapy team and he was confirming the start and location of the radiotherapy. It would be starting from the 9th May. He said, I would get a text confirmation and did I have any questions.

No. For the first time this month, I had nothing to say.

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