Jason shares his story as part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
A drop in energy levels and a sense ‘that something wasn’t quite right” prompted Jason’s wife, Beth, to book him a GP’s appointment in early January 2018. The discovery of blood clots on Jason’s lungs was the bittersweet scenario that inadvertently detected a raised PSA level and the early suspicion of prostate cancer.
A former Royal Marine with a regard for his own well-being, Jason, aged 47 at the time insists “you have to trust your instincts do not procrastinate with your health; middle aged men need to be pushed to see their GP and I am so fortunate that Beth made that happen.”
Jason had a raised PSA level and so a period of monitoring commenced where he underwent tests regularly to observe the PSA level within his blood. The PSA levels, which hovered around 6.4 to 8.2 (normal being 2.5) prompted the GP to refer Jason to Derriford’s Chestnut Unit, where over a period of weeks further tests including an MRI scan were undertaken, culminating in a biopsy of the prostate.
As Jason recalls “the Chestnut Unit were brilliant looking after me; constantly acknowledging the sensitivity of the situation and always having the highest regard for my dignity – the staff and consultants were, and continue to be amazing!”
Jason had a prostate biopsy after his PSA levels were high. Being informed, “You have cancer” is never going to be a great day out! The prostate cancer diagnosis, a Gleason score 3+4, explained Surgeon Ali Ramsden, was highly unlikely to stay confined to the prostate.
All avenues were explored during that meeting, such as active surveillance, brachytherapy and radiotherapy. However it was obvious that removing the prostate and ultimately the cancer, through the radical prostectomy procedure was the tough but correct decision.
With three sons, Jason ensured that they were fully aware of what was occurring as they were now 50% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their later lives and he was determined to deal with the problem with a ‘matter of fact’ approach, which on reflection Jason feels was the right coping strategy. Jason also wanted his son’s to see that the process he was going through was only ever positive and nothing to fear, should they ever have the misfortune to encounter.
A relatively short period of time between diagnosis and surgery was a blessing in Jason’s opinion, which reduced ‘dwelling time’. Obvious concerns about incontinence and erectile dysfunction paled when the primary goal was to be cancer free. Using the ‘da Vinci’ robot under general anesthetic for 3 hours, Ali Ramsden skilfully removed the prostate aided by an incredibly dedicated team including Jayne Buckley and James Carlyle, who’s care Jason describes as ‘outstanding’.
With just one overnight stay in Derriford, Jason returned home where he recalls “being connected to a catheter for two weeks was the toughest part of the process” as he focused on regaining his energy and fitness.
10 weeks post operation, the news that Jason, Beth and his sons were desperate to learn; Jason’s PSA levels were now less than 0.01 (the lowest possible recording) and although the cancer had moved beyond the prostate, thankfully it had not spread to surrounding tissue or lymph nodes.
The pro-active decision by Jason’s wife, Beth, to arrange that GP appointment resulted in the prostate cancer being detected early and removed before it could spread further.
Jason commented “the ‘what ifs’ feature in any cancer diagnosis but ultimately to be told that you are ‘free of the cancer’ is an amazing feeling and genuinely provides you with a different paradigm on life. I am ‘very lucky’ thanks to the prompting, encouragement and huge support that I received from those around me. We beat prostate cancer and it’s my biggest wish that more and more men, who read my story, take the advice to get yourself checked regularly – early detection is how we defeat prostate cancer!”