A belated scare

Oops – a bit of a scare.

I needed a urine test last week when I thought I’d picked up an infection in the waterworks; it showed no infection – but traces of blood.

Minute traces. I hadn’t noticed anything, but I had been a bit sore in the pipework, possibly connected to unusually (for me these days) prolonged…how can I put this delicately…relations.

I was sure that’s all it was, but my GP ordered another test of the urine, for red blood corpuscles. RBC in doctor’s shorthand.

Coupled with the fact we’d neglected to include PSA in my annual bloodtests last November, this news certainly sent a shiver down the spine.

Here I am nearly seven years down the track from a prostatectomy and so far clear of prostate cancer, and thinking nothing can go wrong now. Surely.

That’s foolish, of course. When I last checked, the medical authorities were saying you need to be clear at least a decade.

I peed in the polystyrene cup on Monday morning, the GP’s nurse decanted a sample into a phial, wrote the paperwork, and sent me off to the lab to hand it in.

Then, the wait. How long before they ring with the result?

Nothing by Thursday. So I rang. The GP’s nurse told me to hang on while she checked. It took forever, it seemed, but was only a couple of minutes.

Then: “You’re clear. Nothing was found.”

Big phew. Gigantic phew.

Why hadn’t they called? My wife says GPs don’t these days, if the news is good. Only if it’s bad.

How considerate.

An unwelcome milestone

imageWe buried the cat this week.

It was an unwelcome reminder of mortality and all that, especially since there was a time back in 2009 as I faced surgery to combat prostate cancer when it seemed he might outlast me.

Macavity’s kidneys let him down in the end and he went off to the big vet-aided sleep aged 16. I don’t feel bad about outliving him, of course, but I’ll miss the little bugger.

For some reason I re-read My Cancer Story on this blog last night, and there he was in a photo, tucked under my chin while I snoozed after one of my first days back at work following the operation (as the photo above shows, he also liked to sleep on Lin’s shoulder).

Digging a hole in the garden for him and planting a commemorative rhododendron – the kind of sentimental stuff us humans do when we lose a beloved pet – set me thinking again about how lucky I am to be alive.

I haven’t done that for a long time, as the memory of my brush with prostate cancer faded and I gradually resumed “life as usual”.

I even missed my annual PSA test recently. The doc forgot to add it to the usual cholesterol and god-knows-what-else indicators he orders for my yearly trip to the lab.

But, oh well, next year will do. It’s been seven years and so far nothing shows. I know, I know…this ignores all the frantic advice I was wont to give in the earlier days of the blog. It taks a decade to be clear, and all that.

Why am I being so blase? I don’t know. Maybe it’s simply a matter of moving on. I turned 69 last week, so perhaps there is some unacknowledged instinct that says I’m on the final run, so why worry? 


Reading the blog again after several years of putting it aside was a revelation in some ways. Talk about intense. Did I really mean to reveal so much private stuff? It seemed to go down pretty well with you all, if the comments are any guide, but I wonder now.

All that introspection in the later chapters about hitting the road like a gypsy and living a stress-free life seems misplaced. Especially now that Lin and I have abandoned caravan dwelling and are putting ourselves through the immense stress of buying and renovating a house in our old hometown, New Plymouth.

I’m supposed to be retired. I quit the job in Wellington running the journalism school in 2013. But life is busier than ever – writing books and articles, and getting into a fascinating project to produce a phone app for people wanting to visit the battle sites of the 19th century land wars that began here in Taranaki.

As for my health, it’s never been better. The joints and the back act up after a day on my knees laying paving stones, but no more than you’d expect in your 70th year. The blood pressure pills have been halved and the cholesterol seems to be staying down (when I stay off the pies – all that physical labour makes for an enormous appetite).

The 18-year-old pee stream (was that some kind of obsession or what) has diminished, but it’s still a good flow. Orgasms have never been so intense (those nerves really did get joined up again).

So that’s about it. I’m good, thanks. Best of luck to those of you still on the journey.



imageJust had another routine PSA test and the result is negative again.

That means I have how been clear of prostate cancer for six years. Life is good.

I am now meant to be retired, but approaching the age of 68 I find my work as a freelance writer, editor, photographer and journalist is as busy as ever.

I published my latest book – on how my home province of Taranaki in NZ has cleaned up its many rivers – in October last year. The next book, about a pioneering Taranaki family, is nearly ready to go to the publisher.

In my spare time, I write the occasional indepth article for a local magazine called Live.

Check out my work at: JimTuckerMedia


Hi all

I haven’t been on this blog for a while, so apologies to anyone who has commented or asked questions.

I am teaching blogging to my journalism students today and showed them Prostablog – and discovered a large number of pending comments. They are mostly now posted (apart from the spam ones).

The reason I have stayed away, I guess, is I consider myself prostate cancer-free these days. My PSA doesn’t register, and my checks are down to once a year.

It is three and a half years since the surgery to remove my prostate and while I still have to get to the five year post, then a decade, I don’t think much about it.

Please take that as a positive – it could be seen as selfish on my part not to continue blogging. However,  I just ran out of stuff to say, and monitoring the web for prostate cancer news was taking several hours a day, which I now need to spend on doing other stuff.

I’m 66 and have just retired from journalism teaching. I will be returning to my hometown of New Plymouth in Taranaki to finish a book and maybe write some others. I will be working with my brother, photographer Rob Tucker, who has a few projects for me to contribute some writing to.

Prostate cancer changed my life in one important way: my wife and I enjoy camping, so decided to abandon home ownership in favour of a big caravan, which we tow around the country.

Although it might seem a crazy option in mid-winter, in fact we are finding it a great lifestyle at any time of year. Even the cat has got used to moving around.

So there we are. I feel lucky. Here’s all the best to all of you just starting the journey I began on Christmas Eve, 2008.

If you want to discuss anything about prostate cancer with me, please use my gmail address: edwardtuckr001@gmail.com

But remember, I’m not following the topic closely any more, so may not be able to help. And my advice is always cautious – I’m not a doctor, and I believe every man’s experience is different and personal.

NZ HERALD: The Herald’s medical reporter, Martin Johnston, has written a balanced account on where we are with the great PSA debate. READ MORE>

PROSTABLOG NZ: The final report from a two-year NZ Parliamentary investigation into prostate cancer detection and treatment has been released by the Health Select Committee. READ MORE>

PROSTABLOG NZ:  The PSA test may get a bad rap from epidemiologists and the Ministry of Health, but so far as I’m concerned it’s a winner.

It’s a reliable post-treatment indicator of whether your prostate cancer is coming back or not, and I’ve just had my two-year test – and it remains undetectable.

That’s very good news, so far as I can discern. My reading of things prostate tells me the two-year mark is a crucial one, a time when recurrence is most likely to rear its unwelcome head.

That doesn’t mean I’m cured. There’s a long way to go before that marker, perhaps a decade.

The only thing I’m not sure about is the fact my PSA never registered much (let alone any change) prior to my diagnosis in 2008.

Does that mean post-surgery PSA tests won’t work on me either.

Nah, let’s not dwell on it.