Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘UPDATES’ Category

Rob Harry Jim Xmas 2018 cropped

My brother (left), his grandson, and me last Christmas.

MAY 18, 2019: The inconsistency of PSA testing has hit close to home – my brother has just been diagnosed with advanced and aggressive prostate cancer, but his PSA showed little signs of change.

Prostate cancer was confirmed a couple of weeks ago, but he’s obviously had it for years. It’s out of the capsule and he has secondary lesions on his spine, pelvis and upper arm.

So far, no symptoms are showing with any of his internal organs (other than his prostate, obviously). He is peeing fine and there’s no bleeding anywhere.

However, the spinal tumour was large and extremely painful, the trouble first showing up last June (2018). His GP found nothing with digital examinations, so gave him painkillers and suggested he see a physiotherapist.

Physio gave temporary relief only, so he went to a chiropracter. No help. Back to the GP, who referred him to New Plymouth’s main hospital to be screened for a specilaist appointment.

After a delay of several months – because the hospital is chronically short-staffed and suffering from NZ-wide strikes by young doctors – the doctor who finally saw him in late March suspected bone cancer and had him admitted urgently for tests.

When I told one of the hospital specialists I’m a prostate cancer survivor (more than a decade now) and our father also had it diagnosed in his 80s, the place scrambled and my brother was soon told he had terminal bone or prostate cancer.

He was immediately transported by plane to Palmerston North (a three-hour road trip away) whose hospital has the major radiation treatment centre for the lower half of the North Island. After treatment with radiation and steroids, the tumour shrank and his doses of morphine for the pain were greatly reduced.

Back in New Plymouth a week later, he was given a digital examination by a hospital doctor, who found signs of cancer; that was confirmed by a biopsy. His Gleasons was reported as a low 3/4, but the secondary tumours are considered aggressive.

He is now on initial treatment with a combination of hormonal therapy plus docetaxel-based chemotherapy, just as my old friend Mike Scott predicted when I asked his advice last month. Mike runs that fabulous website The ‘New’ Prostate Cancer Infolink, in my view the best source of prostate cancer news and information in the world.

My brother went through the usual stages of shock, despair and denial, but moved quickly to the positive stages. Despite a stiffened arm, he has returned to work as one of New Zealand’s top freelance photographers, works the dog 4km each day and is generally positive about getting on with his life.

I would say his prognosis for years of useful life are good, despite the spread of the cancer. He can be sure of support from me (we have worked together for years anyway).

The screening of prostate cancer continues to be a worry. After I was first diagnosed in 2008, my brother has had regular digital and PSA tests every year since. My PSA never changed and my cancer was discovered by a GP with long fingers. Goes to show, doesn’t it.

BELOW: A couple of my brother’s photos that are about to be published in his 35th book. They show Mt Taranaki.

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 7.52.36 AM

Read Full Post »