By Paddy O’Brien

Whatever my Gleason Score was, I forget. It is written down somewhere. When urologist Dr Moolman told me (in May 2017) that 75% of the needle biopsy samples from my prostate were cancerous, after a TURP op, I just wanted my prostate OUT and ASAP.

(TURP=Transurethral resection of the prostate, an operation commonly performed to help men pee more freely)

To me, then and there, secondary considerations like urinary continence and erectile dysfunctionality could be dealt with later. I just wanted the cancer to be completely removed, and quickly. [Editor’s note: for a contrast, see Gavin’s story]

Pushing for quick action

In those days Dr Moolman made use of the Da Vinci robotic machine at the Christiaan Barnard Hospital in Cape Town and the next available slot was in September. He will remember me asking that should a cancellation / opening become available sooner he was just to yell (with no prior warning) and I’d be there.

He explained that my cancer was relatively slow growing and that I should not be concerned. Of course, that did not put me off wanting it out as soon as possible. In the end, the procedure was brought forward by a few weeks.

Now, four and a half years later, I believe I have made a full recovery at least when you take my age into account. I am now 67, usually pretending to be 37. We wanna-be youngsters!

Better off sexually, OK on urine control

Dr Moolman’s encouragement of “Use it or Lose It” made me gung-ho on NOT losing my sexual function. I am probably better-off sexually than I was before the RALP. I do admit that a 50mg Dynafil ‘pilletjie’ [little blue pill] gives me a little boost of confidence beforehand.

As far as urinary continence is concerned, I was a bit naughty. I only went to Helen Shaw (recommended physio) post-RALP – and she was very good. I was not really concerned about this side-effect. I’m glad I didn’t have more more serious incontinence.

Whilst I haven’t needed to wear urine-absorbing pads for 4 years now, I still have a little leak now and then. This is most likely to happen after a busy day when I’m dog-tired and sitting back to relax. Thank goodness it doesn’t happen when I am lying down in bed.

Having had kidney stones twice in my life I was told years ago to ‘drink lots’ and I do drink a lot of water. The slight inconvenience of a damp patch now and then far outweighs the pain and hospitalisation due to kidney stones.