Resources for coping with cancer during COVID-19. Learn More

An afterthought saved his life

Robert Pullan was 62 in 2015 and in the best condition he had been for years. He had recently started taking better care of his health and as part of that, he went for a physical examination with a new family doctor in Toronto. The exam had gone well and the results of his bloodwork were good. He was about to leave.

“At the very last moment, as I was walking out the door, my doctor asked if I had had a PSA test. I knew what it was, but I hadn’t had one in maybe five, six or even seven years,” he says.

So his doctor gave him a new requisition for a PSA test – which had not been part of the original bloodwork.

Since the test isn’t funded by the public system in Ontario, he had to pay. He says: “It bothered me that something like this, not even so much for me, but for so many other people – for whatever the reason is – that $30 is a big deal. And the last thing would be to discourage people for financial reasons. If it was me, I’d do everything I could to encourage them. And if they can’t afford it – make sure it’s available regardless.”

Two weeks after going to the lab, his doctor’s office called. Robert received news nobody wants to hear. He needed to see a specialist as soon as possible.

Prostate Cancer Canada is leading a campaign to have the Ontario government fund the PSA test in its 2019/20 budget. At psatestsforontario.ca, Ontario residents can send a message to their Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) letting them know of their support for PSA test funding.

And so began his prostate cancer journey – months of doctors’ appointments, MRI and other scans, medications and a multitude of treatments and hospital visits.

After seeing two specialists, he took antibiotics for a month to see if his PSA level would come down. It didn’t – it stayed at the same high level of 35 – a level of 3 or higher is when doctors are encouraged to monitor or do other tests.
Robert and his partner Helen in September 2015,
before starting his prostate cancer treatment
He had a biopsy in June 2015. A number of samples showed aggressive cancer that was near the point of spreading outside the prostate.

Next came discussions with various doctors. The surgeon said it was too late to remove the prostate safely. Robert agreed to a treatment plan starting with brachytherapy in late summer – a one-time procedure using needles to deliver high-dose rate radiation directly to the cancer. Following that, he had five weeks of Monday to Friday external beam radiation - delivered through x-rays from outside his body.

In October, he started 15 months of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) – injections every three months to eliminate male hormones like testosterone that prostate cancer feeds on to grow.

Four years since his diagnosis, he’s healthy. He had to deal with treatment side effects like urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction from the radiation, which improved over time. The side effects from the ADT included hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain. These dissipated once that treatment stopped. He currently feels completely back to normal.
Robert and Helen in September 2018

What kept Robert going through the ups and downs of his journey was his Christian faith that let him stay at peace with what was happening. He was also driven to get as much information as possible. He recognizes how fortunate he was to receive excellent care at every step of the way.

Today, Robert has limited his workload, working mainly as a driver – both paid and as a volunteer for charities.

Currently, the cost of a PSA test when ordered by a doctor to help detect prostate cancer is covered in all provinces except British Columbia and Ontario. Prostate Cancer Canada wants to change this because, when detected early, survival is close to 100 per cent. Nearly three in four men will die if caught late.

In early 2018, Robert returned to his family physician to thank him for ordering the test that saved his life. His doctor told him that if he hadn’t taken the test, most likely they would not be having their conversation.


Your donation helps protect men and their families from prostate cancer.
You'll be supporting the most promising research projects, and providing men with care and support when they need it most. 
Add your voice to our call for Ontario to fund this quick, simple and potentially life-saving test. Go to www.psatestsforontario.ca to send a message to your MPP to tell the government to fund the PSA test!
Posted: 2019-04-07 12:03:11 PM


Local Hero Award #oneineight #unhommesurhuit A Survivorship Action Partnership Active adt advanced Alex Baumann Annual Moose & Goose Club Black Tie Dinner antigen ASAP athlete awareness Beam bénévole biopsies biopsy Bismar blood BOSSS Tournament Boutros Brachytherapy Bristow british Buttyan Calgary Canada Cancer caregiver Carreauté catheter CFL charity Chemotherapy cherry cnic collaboration collage columbia Conor Malone Cruisin’ For A Cure Canada Dad Daddy dads Dakar Rally day de deprivation detection diagnosis diagnostiqué digital dna do Do it for Dads doctor don donate DRE early Early detection ED Edmonton Education erection eric Eskimos exam experience External family Father Father and Sons Xcanada Father’s Day Walk/Run Father's Day FDiagnosis Football for Fred Chartrand funding fundraising fundrasier gènes genetics Golf Town Charity Classic health High-Intensity history hockey Hope Hormone international it Jack Layton L’ADN la l'APS Len Levesque lifelabs lottery loved mccormack Media men's moustache moustachus Movember MRI Murray Hill national nationale navigator of Olivia Chow one ones papa partership Paul PCC PCC Atlantic PCCN pee Pilot Grant Program Plaid post-surgery pour pre-surgery prosate cancer Prostate prostate cancer Prostate Cancer Awareness Day Prostate Cancer Canada Prostate Cancer Canada Network Prostate Cancer Canada Network Conference prostatecancer Prostatectomy Protect the 5 Hole PSA PSA blood test PSA levels PSA test PSA value psatest Radiation Radical radioligand raffle Ralph Randy Remington Randy Remington Charity Golf Classic recipe recovery rectal remember Research researcher Resources Rhodes Ride Rising risk road Rob robyn Rocco Rocco Rossi rock Rocktheroadraffle Rossi run Scotiabank StickIt Scotiabank Stick-It screened screening semaine sexuality Sled specific Star step Step Up Steve Jones story Stuart Edmonds support surgery Surveillance survivant survivor survivors survivorship programs T2:ERG Tarek test Test de l'APS testdelAPS testing the The Breast Friends The Randy Remington Golf Classic Therapy TIEd Together TIEd Together photo exhibit Treatment tribute tumours up urine urine test urologist volunteer volunteering Volunteerism volunteers Wake Up Call Breakfast walk Walk Run week winner World


December 2019(1)
November 2019(3)
October 2019(2)
September 2019(7)
August 2019(6)
July 2019(5)
Juin 2019(0)
May 2019(5)
April 2019(4)
Mars 2019(5)
February 2019(6)
January 2019(4)
December 2018(1)
November 2018(1)
October 2018(3)
September 2018(4)
July 2018(2)
June 2018(1)
April 2018(2)
February 2018(2)
December 2017(2)
October 2017(1)
April 2017(2)
February 2017(1)
December 2016(2)
July 2016(2)
May 2016(1)
March 2016(1)
December 2015(1)
November 2015(1)
September 2015(1)
July 2015(1)
June 2015(1)
April 2015(2)
March 2015(2)
February 2015(2)
January 2015(2)
December 2014(4)
November 2014(2)
August 2014(1)
July 2014(2)
May 2014(2)
April 2014(1)
December 2013(2)
November 2013(3)
October 2013(1)
September 2013(6)
August 2013(2)
September 2012(4)
August 2012(1)
June 2012(1)
April 2012(1)
March 2012(3)
February 2012(2)
January 2012(1)
October 2011(1)
June 2011(2)
January 2011(1)
November 2010(6)
October 2010(3)
September 2010(3)
August 2010(4)
July 2010(2)
February 2010(3)
January 2010(1)