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I am on the way up ... climbing my own personal mountain and it feels good to be on the move.
Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages over the last few months and, as many of you have requested, I wanted to give you an update on my journey.
My last blog shared the story of how I had been diagnosed with cancer and the topsy turvy world that had started that day. Since that diagnosis, I have had many friends and contacts who have helped me overcome both the shock as well as setting the route I needed to take.
You will know who you are.
I mentioned before that the doctors had given me a menu of choices for the treatment I could have, which is not what I was expecting. I used to look at my doctor in awe, knowing s/he would 'make me better'. Suddenly this list of options did not seem right. I wanted to be told what was the best one that would guarantee I would recover without the additional list of side effects they presented me with.
Well, who says it is not who you know? I am lucky to have a brother who is now a GP and from his early days as a urologist, he has many expert connections in the area of prostate cancer.
This helped me to be sure of what I wanted to do.
I asked my consultant to refer me to Guildford Hospital who were recommended as the best in Europe when it came to my chosen treatment. "Of course," he said, "but I wouldn't recommend it."
"Don't start now with the advice," I replied, but 6 weeks later I met the team who would make me radioactive! A major operation with an excellent team who looked after me throughout whilst I was surrounded by other patients older than myself. It all went well, although I don't recommend having a catheter removed!
It's Ok though, my radioactive status means you can be near me (unless you are pregnant or a small child) so don't let it stop you joining me for fun and good times over the next few months. For those of you who remember your chemistry lessons, the radioactivity has a half-life of 6 weeks, so it is already half the strength it was. The effects on my body though are building up ready to peak between 2 and 3 months, but I am already half way towards the steepest and most treacherous part of my route.
The treatment I opted for is Brachytherapy where radioactive seeds are inserted into my prostate to kill the cancer. The good cells are also killed, but these recover, so after 6 to 9 months I should be getting back to normal. This treatment has a high success rate so blood tests over the next few months and years will check that it has worked as well as we all want it to.
I am on my way to reach the top of my mountain and I want to thank you for being there to help me through the dark times. You have not ignored the elephant in the room and you have helped me smile along the way. Some of you have been truly inspiring friends and you may not realise how much you have helped me. I have done the normal Neil style of pretending all was well, so your friendship, support and humour is really really appreciated.
The mountain looks steep but I am feeling well enough to climb all the way to the top.
My journey to get fit again and to stop being interrupted by the 'C' word every day has started well.
I will let you know how the journey to the top goes.
PS for all my male friends ... it is a simple blood test to check your own prostate. If they catch any sign of cancer early there is a high rate of success for a cure. If it is missed, things get harder - so go to your GP and get your own checked. I am young compared to most who get this horrible disease, but don't wait.