COLUMN: How could I have cancer?
March is prostate cancer awareness month, which highlights the most common cancer in men.
More than 47,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
Despite this statistic I still can’t believe it happened to me.
It’s surprising to learn that most prostate cancers aren’t caused by inherited cancer genes and most men who get prostate cancer don’t have a family history of it.
I still remember the shock of hearing my cancer diagnosis last year; I didn’t have a family history or any symptoms, how could I have cancer?
It all started when I attended a GP appointment a few weeks before, it was meant to be a routine health MOT.
I was lucky enough to have a Macmillan GP, he mentioned that men over 40 from an Afro-Caribbean background like me are four times more likely to have prostate cancer than men from other ethnic backgrounds.
He recommended we do a straightforward PSA blood test that picks up any issues with the prostate ‘just in case’.
I was shocked when my PSA results came back high, I had no symptoms at all.
One of the most overwhelming moments came during my diagnosis, as you’d expect after I heard the C word I couldn’t hear anything, just noise.
I remember being given a huge pack of information and being asked to make a decision on the treatment I wanted, my head was swimming with information.
Soon after this my GP put me in touch with Macmillan Nurse Louise Metcalfe; she could see I was confused and over whelmed by the diagnosis and directed me to the Macmillan Support Line.
I gave the support line a call, they talked me through the treatment options in less complicated terms.
Most importantly they said to me ‘you’re not going to die from this’. I needed to hear that.
I was struggling to talk to my family about my cancer diagnosis, Macmillan helped me to start a conversation with them and this lifted a lot of the anxiety.
Through Macmillan Nurse Louise and the support line I feel Macmillan stepped in and provided the emotional support I needed.
They signposted me to the great support we have right here in Sheffield, like The Sheffield Cancer Information Hub; a pop up shop which directs people to the fantastic services available across the city.
Based at units 56 and 58 of The Moor Market from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, the team have spoken to over 800 people since opening in September, offering advice, support and reassurance
When you’re diagnosed with cancer people often ask, how can I help? I have said to my friends, the best way you can help me is by getting tested, some friends have said they would. Others have said they’d rather not tempt fate when they feel well.
It’s frustrating when I’ve explained I felt well too, I had no symptoms at all. Men are not great at talking about things, I was the same until it happened to me.
Don’t wait, symptoms or no symptoms get tested.
If you have any concerns about cancer or just want someone to talk to, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am - 8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk.
Men are advised to see their doctor if they have any of these symptoms:
difficulty passing urine and taking a long time
passing urine more frequently than usual, especially at night
the feeling of not completely emptying your bladder after you’ve passed urine
needing to rush to the toilet to pass urine (urgency)
blood in the urine or semen
pain when passing urine or ejaculating (this is rare).