Prostate cancer patient
When a friend and team-mate from a Huddersfield rugby club lost his life to cancer many years ago, 55 year old Chris Taylor from Brighton was one of a group of fellow players who pledged to have their prostate checked every five years from the age of 50.
As a sporty, fit and health-conscious man, Chris had no health concerns – but true to his word, requested his first prostate check with his GP when he turned 50. The result from his PSA test was a very healthy 2.7, so much so that his GP was reluctant to carry out another test when he reached 55. But Chris was adamant he wanted it done, and was thankful he persevered for his GP discovered that his prostate had become enlarged, and his PSA had gone up to 4.7.
"I began a surreal journey. I did some research to prepare myself a little, but I didn’t really believe it was likely that I had cancer, even though I knew it must have been a possibility or I wouldn’t have been going through the process.
I went to see consultant urologist, Mr Charles Coker at Nuffield Health’s Brighton Hospital where I had an ultrasound scan which was followed by a biopsy and MRI scan.
When I was actually told that I had cancer, my reaction was more clinical than emotional. I just wanted to know what my life expectancy was, my Gleeson score, and the treatment options and their success rates. My Gleeson score was nine, which is really quite high, but thankfully the cancer was localised and hadn’t spread to the bones or lymph nodes.
I was referred to consultant oncologist, Dr Angus Robinson, who advised that a course of hormone therapy followed by radiotherapy would be the most appropriate treatment option. He explained that my health insurance gave me access to Genesis Care which provided advanced forms of radiotherapy including IGRT and IMRT.
I had read about image guided radiotherapy, but didn’t really understand the significance of the difference it made. The more I found out, the more I wanted to be guaranteed of having this advanced treatment and was more than happy to travel the two-hour, 70-mile round trip every weekday for seven and a half weeks.
It was good to know I had private health insurance which allowed me to have this particularly targeted radiotherapy treatment. Genesis Care dealt directly with my insurers and they were straight on the case.
As a patient, I feel it’s important to be properly informed about any differences in the treatments available to you, and I’m glad I made the decision to go to Genesis Care. Having the radiotherapy was easy, much better than I expected. The technology they have is amazing, and the people are very friendly and efficient.
Above all, by having this advanced radiotherapy, I’ve been able to keep as much of my life as normal as possible. I carried on working throughout my radiotherapy treatment – although I did reduce my working hours from the 10 or 11 hour days I worked prior to my diagnosis.
I know someone who had the regular general zapping for prostate cancer which caused side effects to the point where they now get anxious if they are too far from a toilet. I’m delighted to say I’ve had almost no side effects from my radiotherapy, just some tiredness which is probably more to do with the hormone injections I’m also having.
Keeping life as near to normality as possible has been really important for me, both psychologically and physically. Continuing to work and going to the gym has given me a psychological robustness that has helped me to deal with being treated. I’ve not let the cancer take over my life or stop me from doing anything; I have even gone for a game of racquet ball on my way home from the treatment during the school holidays.
Being diagnosed with cancer does make you re-evaluate your life and I’ve made the decision to step down from my job as headteacher to spend more time with my daughter and take some adventurous holidays including a trip to Australia to surf on Bondi Beach.
These are all things I would have eventually done anyway, but I’m just doing them sooner. I won’t know for two years if I’m clear of the cancer, but thanks to my private health insurance I’ve had the very best treatment available. I feel fit and well, and am going to make the most of it and live life to the full."