Prostate cancer patient
Retired lorry driver Trevor Lowes was visiting a consultant for an unrelated health matter when his higher than average PSA was picked up. Further tests confirmed he had prostate cancer, and he underwent five years of active surveillance.
When he discovered the cancer had become more aggressive Trevor presumed he’d be having surgery, but instead was told about the advanced radiotherapy treatment being offered by GenesisCare's Linford Wood Medical Centre in Milton Keynes.
"I didn’t have any symptoms and or feel unwell at all, so it was a bit of a shock to hear I had prostate cancer. I was just thankful that it wasn’t aggressive and wasn’t likely to cause me any problems.
It was reassuring to know the doctors were keeping an eye on me with the active surveillance, but it was always at the back of my mind. I’d feel a bit keyed-up in the run up to the appointments.
My wife, Iris, was very supportive and pushed to make sure all the ‘t’s were crossed and ‘i’s were dotted so that if there was any change it would be picked up as soon as possible. I went for blood tests every three months, and had a biopsy and MRI scan every year.
However, after five years of active surveillance, a blood test showed my PSA had gone up to seven. When the cancer was first found I’d been told about the possibility of having keyhole surgery, but my consultant explained that a very accurate type of radiotherapy was now being offered at the new Linford Wood centre. She said that this would be ideal for me as the cancer had now gone to the area just outside of the prostate. This could all be treated with this radical radiotherapy.
I’d read about some hospitals having older radiotherapy machines that could cause side effects, but Dr Elwell, my oncologist, reassured me that I would be treated using the very latest equipment which was very targeted with a lot less risk of any side effects.
I had my radiotherapy every weekday for just over seven weeks. Even though I knew I was getting the best treatment possible, at first I couldn’t help feeling a bit keyed-up when I went in. However everyone was so caring and didn’t rush me, so I soon felt a lot calmer.
On some days they couldn’t treat me straight away so I’d be sent off to do something to make sure the prostate was in the best position before they’d treat me. If there was too much gas inside me pushing the prostate into the wrong place, then the girls would advise me to go for a walk to get rid of it. Sometimes drinking more water would be what was needed. Usually when I went on again it was alright.
A couple of times they weren’t able to treat me and I had to miss a treatment, but they opened the centre at the weekend just for me so I could ‘catch up’. I couldn’t believe they’d do that – they couldn’t have been more obliging, and the personal attention and care was second to none.
Once I knew what to expect I found it so relaxing in the centre. I never had to wait, and from reception when you walk through the door through to the girls doing the treatment, everyone on the ball. I was in their hands and it felt great. I felt part of the family.
When I first started the treatment I was still a bit worried about possible side effects, and thought ‘Why am I putting myself through this?’ but it I’ve had no problems at all. Mind you, I would have gone for it anyway.
I was thrilled to read about this particular type of radiotherapy in the health section of the Daily Mail, knowing that was the treatment I had.
We’ve paid for private health insurance since we retired, and am so glad we kept it going. AXA have been absolutely brilliant, clearing everything quickly and not holding anything up.
Iris has been a rock through it all – asking the right questions and supporting me all the way. We travelled together to all the appointments and, although it did take over our lives for eight weeks, it was worth it.
At my follow-up appointment I found out my PSA has gone from 9.7 to 0.2. What a result! My treatment meant we’d been putting off going on holiday, but as soon as we got that news we booked a cruise with friends."