Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Doctors' advice’ Category

JULY 12: SUNDAY STAR-TIMES:  Prominent Labour local body politician Mike Lee (59) revealed today he has “mid-range aggressive” prostate cancer and is undergoing external beam radiation and hormone therapy.

The Star-Times today reveals the story of how this hit him at a time when his position of chairman of the Auckland Regional Council was under severe pressure, following the organisation’s disastrous backing of a David Beckham soccer match in Auckland last year.  READ MORE>

Read Full Post »

JUNE 14: PROSTABLOG NZ: Ministry of Health officials and their medical advisers have been mulling over findings from the two large randomised studies of prostate screening in the US and Europe, and the ministry is due to make an announcement on the matter soon.

The Ministry has long advised the government that population-based screening has no proven benefits in terms of preventing death from prostate cancer, a stance echoed by the NZ Cancer Society, and some researchers, as well as by governments throughout the world.

Did the two big studies (published in March) find anything that will change their minds? And meantime, what should the average NZ patient do about screening (getting a GP to do a PSA blood test and a digital examination), and what treatment choice should someone make if a diagnosis is positive?

The Harvard Medical School website has a video discussing some of the issues. SEE IT HERE>Harvard

Read Full Post »

PART 22 of My PC Adventure: full story HERE>

Bus2

I now catch the bus.

So! A lot of people do, every day, no big deal. Wellington is a commuter city, with an excellent public transport system (although the trains aren’t so good, I hear).

So what’s with the bus? And what’s this got to do with prostate cancer?

Bear with me. First, a little background on my family: the Tuckers are car people.

My father boasted he owned 59 cars in his life (not all at once, thank goodness). He had every post-War Citroen up to the DS19, an exotic spaceship that turned heads when he got the first one in our town in 1958.

ChevI suspect he compensated for short physical stature with his cars. The sight of him in his 1965 Chev Impala! It was a Yank tank with an underpowered V8, but oh the size of the thing.

My brother drives a Range Rover and a BMW, and happily pays $700 for one new tyre (well, not quite so ecstatically while there’s a recession).

mgMy life’s ambition at 19 was to own an MG sports car. I had it by 20, fire engine red with white-wall tyres.

But after a year I couldn’t tell if the young women who rode in it were loving the vehicle or me. The car, I suspect. An astute female friend called it my “big red penis” car. If only…

Life did not take on new meaning because of the MG, so over time I downgraded. I discovered that women, oddly, aren’t that impressed by cars.

Micra12Now it’s a Nissan Micra, whose only downside is causing offence to men in grown-up SUVs if I pass them on the motorway or drive in the fast lane.

Even so, we male Tuckers don’t bus. Ever. It’s not, well, manly.

I trammed to school as a little kid, but biked as soon as my legs could reach the pedals of a two-wheeler. It had a speedo, saddlebags and a whippy aerial (no wonder I was bullied).

MiniI had my driver’s licence at 15, to drive mum’s humiliating Morris Minor, admittedly, but then it was quickly on to a hot Mini with fat feet, twin carbs and overhead sliding sumps.

After that, never the bus. Buses were for other people, ones who make up the numbers. There’s no freedom in a bus. Standing on the side of the street in the rain, looking resentfully at single-occupant cars going to work. What is it with that, the resentment?

So, now, the bus.

Where have I been all these years?

marsOn Mars, perhaps, as was suggested none-too-politely by a grumpy bus driver when I first tried a bus and didn’t grasp that there are sections and zones and you have to know where you’re going, and putting money in the dish thingie and walking off to find a seat is not completing the full transaction.

“So, where are you going?” this first occasion elicited from the driver.

Me: “Um, doesn’t this bus go into town?”

“Yes, and then on as far as Wilton. How far are you going? How many sections?”

“Sections…well, town, of course. Why?”

“I have to issue a ticket.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Which planet are you from – Mars?”

“I don’t appreciate the sarcasm.”

“Huh. You should try doing this job. You wouldn’t last a day. We’re short of drivers, about 30 short. Why don’t you apply, see how long you last.” And more.

He then drove like a maniac around our precipitous and narrow streets, just missing a couple of cars, muttering about how the country had gone to the dogs.

This was another reason why I should never bus, I decided. We were, after all, just following city council advice to leave cars at home because half the central city was closed off for a street carnival and a Harley Davidson rally.

Never again.

busBut, yes, again.

And I’ve got to tell you – I was wrong, wrong, wrong about the bus.

The bus, I’ve discovered late in life, is a plush, comfortable, insulated, calm place where you can sit back, catch up on the day’s missed phone messages and texts, read, daydream, look at people, watch the view, think about nothing.

air hornAnd avoid stress.

The bus is a far less stressful mode of getting home from work in the 5 o’clock rush.

No more barely contained road rage, exasperation at the stupidly of every other driver.

suvOr blasting wayward cyclists and pedestrians with the Italian air horn I was forced to install in the toy car because of the SUV bullies.

Or dodging protruding cars badly parked in narrow streets.

magic_roundabout_2Or death-defying lane changes enforced by traffic engineers whose idea of traffic light design is as chaotic as an English roundabout.

And you can listen to the bus driver’s radio communications with base as other drivers describe their crashes and coming forward as witnesses for one another because “that guy cut right in front of you, Dennis. Saw it plain as day.”

And you’re dropped off right at your door. Like a massive taxi.

200px-SnapperCardAnd if you buy one of the electronic tickets (mysteriously called a Snapper Card), you avoid the interrogation that seems to come with a cash transaction.

The machine growls at you (“don’t forget to log off”), but after a couple of trips you know what it’s going to say, and that it will say this to everybody. Nothing personal.

There are a few downsides, admittedly.

Buses don’t keep to the timetable. Or, presumably in an effort to do just that, they pull up a street short of your stop and the driver announces that he will be resting there for six minutes.

The bus you’re after will often be pulling away from the stop while you watch from the other side of the street, trapped by a pedestrian light that’s red so your bus can leave without you.

The numbers are hard to read on some buses. The one I catch is one of them.

While every other route has a bus with a giant illuminated number that can be read a kilometre away, my Number 14 is indiscernible until its upon you. Which is a problem when it pulls up at the far end of a big line of other buses at the city bus stop where I catch it.Bus 3

And there is a kind of subtle community living in buses. They are people in the know. They know the bus driver and address him/her by first name. They spread themselves out on a double seat to ensure nobody else can sit beside them.

They nod to their fellow community members, talk little and in code, look vacant but grim, and resent a newbie who is, so far, as open to this new life experience as a first day student on a gnome-painting course. I will learn from them, I know.

But to the point: this is all part of my new, post-cancer surgery existence, an adjusted life that involves less stress (no more road rage), more vegetables and fruit (no more ham sandwiches from Mr Bun eaten over the keyboard), less red meat (more hormone-crammed chicken and mercury-laden fish), more exercise.

catnapGoing back to work has, of course, been stressful (no more cat naps in the afternoon), but things have started to settle back into a manageable routine.

It helps that in order to catch a bus before they’re crammed in the rush hour, I try to leave work just before 5pm, as opposed to the old 6pm.

I’m also being cosseted at home. Lin has lost her government job, but is enjoying some time off, which means I’m temporarily off the chef roster (and the washing, and toilet cleaning roster, as well).

I’ve also learned not to rush rehab. It’s taken all of the nearly three months since the prostatectomy to rid the lower abdomen of sensitivity to tighter clothing, to fully adopt the Billy Connelly advice “if you get a chance to have a pee, take it”, and to let nature take its course when it comes to the intimate stuff.

buslaneSoreness after that was also a problem for a while. The medics urge almost instant rehab, within three weeks of the op, but although I’m sure that’s based on sound research, it seems to me that rushing to try out equipment that’s had a helluva rough ride can be less than productive.

Meantime, it’s life in the bus lane for me.

I’ll never again swear at a bus stopped with its rear end sticking out into the traffic and holding up us, sorry you, motorists.

Read Full Post »

JUNE 13: MODERN MEDICINE: The treatments for localised prostate cancer — prostatectomy, brachytherapy, and external radiation — have varied side effect profiles, and these should be taken into consideration in the selection of a treatment, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. READ MORE>

Read Full Post »

JUNE 8: NZ DOCTOR: Some 50 per cent of men diagnosed via a PSA test would never experience symptoms if left untreated, says a NZ epidemiologist who has analysed the large randomised studies reported recently. READ MORE>

Read Full Post »

JUNE 6: URO TODAY: Patients with prostate cancer (PCa) are presented with multiple therapeutic options, but the evidence supporting a survival benefit with current PCa therapies is often limited and data directly comparing the available options are lacking. READ MORE>

Read Full Post »

MAY 30: PROSTABLOG NZ:  The partner of a NZ man with advancing prostate cancer says the public health system can’t test him for bone deterioration for at least year.  FULL STORY HERE>

Meantime, he goes untreated for osteoporosis, a well-known side effect of treatment he has been receiving for two years for his prostate cancer, which is now showing signs of spreading.

He was diagnosed in 2007 and hormone therapy since then kept signs of cancer spread in check.

But hormone therapy (as well as possibly causing bone deterioration) works for only a limited time, and now his prostate specific antigen levels are rapidly increasing, a sign the treatment is no longer effective.

The couple was told by his public health doctor a bone test could not be done for at least a year because 0f the long waiting list in the public health system.

Despite not being wealthy, they have abandoned the public system in desperation to get help from a private specialist.

In her story – published in full on the page titled John and Mary’s prostate saga – she tells of her quest for empowerment in dealing with the medical system.

Recently, she joined the US-based New Prostate Cancer Info-Link social network, where the expert sitemaster has offered some advice.

While he says the doctors were undoubtedly doing their best, one conclusion to be drawn is NZ is way behind the US when it comes to treating prostate cancer.

Read Full Post »

MAY 26: CAPITAL NEWS 9:  The recent long-term studies of the effectiveness of prostate cancer screening were confusing, says one US general practitioner, while another says older men should get their PSA tested every year. READ MORE>

Read Full Post »

MAY 23:   RENAL & UROLOGY NEWS: A study of low-income men found that most did not understand basic medical terms such as “erection”. Clinicians should speak colloquially when discussing prostate cancer with low-income men because most of them do not understand basic medical terms, according to a new study. READ MORE>

Read Full Post »

MAY 12: McLEANS.CA:  Canada has set up regional committees to have another look at prostate cancer screening using PSA tests. 

A number of provincial committees have been established recently to further investigate the best recommendations for prostate cancer screening, says Dr Neil E. Fleshner, head of urology at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.

Despite unnecessary anxiety that may arise from finding high but harmless levels of prostate-specific antigens, PSA screening is undeniably useful, says Fleshner, who personally thinks men should receive PSA testing starting in their mid-40s.

“It will take men who are destined to die from prostate cancer and save their lives. Make no doubt about it.”

Dr. Brant Thrasher, chairman of urology at the University of Kansas, and spokesperson for the American Urological Association, agrees with Fleshner that the benefits of PSA testing are profound.

But he says it is not a perfect marker. It could also mean an enlarged prostate, infection or inflammation.

He and Fleshner urge men to talk to their doctor about their own risk about when they should begin screening.

“The key is informed consent on behalf of the physician and patient,” says Fleshner, “rather than ‘let’s open a kiosk in the mall and start drawing PSA.’ ” READ MORE>

In New Zealand, there is no renewed debate about PSA screening, but the Ministry of Health says it will be taking a look at the results of the latest long-term studies just reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Cancer Society of NZ initially said  (April 30) it was getting ready to review its “no national screening” policy, but appeared to change its mind.

There is no word yet from new Health Minister Tony Ryall on why prostate cancer is not one of the government’s newly set Health Targets, despite his statement in January that it would be a priority for his government.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »