I got to the point in two minutes and it saved my life

Guest blog by Geoffrey Roche, prostate cancer survivor

I can’t get over how many guys wimp out on getting a simple pin prick to check their PSA. Why? Why don’t they have the same courage women do? Why do so many men not even know what a PSA level is? (It stands for Prostate Specific Antigen). You’re meant to start testing for prostate cancer at 50 (or at 45 if you are at higher risk) and a PSA test is one of the first and easiest tests ever! It’s a blood test and like all blood tests it doesn’t hurt. Whereas the cancer tests women have to put up with are not pretty nor without major discomfort. And yet men run away, or procrastinate, from having this done on a regular basis. Crazy.
 
Ten years a years ago my doctor starting checking my PSA. Nothing to show from the tests until December 2018 – my PSA jumped a bit. My GP sent me for more tests. I was positive everything was okay. Mr. Glass Half Full, that’s me.
 
The dreaded finger poke came next. Again, guys worry about this. Make jokes. Put it off. Seriously? Again, ask a woman about the indignities they suffer and you’ll count your blessings and get it done. But the doctor still wanted more tests. So I went for an ultrasound. Again, incredibly straightforward and painless.
 
Next was a biopsy as they still weren’t crazy about my results. A few pokes of a needle - after freezing - between your bum and your balls. The worst was the sound of the probe taking samples. Kind of like a staple gun, only louder and more abrupt each time – but no pain. (This is a new technique worth researching if you get to this point).
 
Two weeks later, I went with my wife Marie-Claire for the results. Not good. I had cancer, fair amount actually.

DID YOU CRY?

Geoffrey-Roche_01.png
I wasn’t prepared. I cried and cried. Couldn’t stop. Why? Perhaps the thought of leaving a bit too soon. You see, I’m a lucky man. Beautiful, intelligent, vivacious wife for more than 38 years. Four amazing kids. Love each of them in their own inimitable way. How much better is life than that? So why the tears? I guess the shock. Cancer.
 
C-A-N-C-E-R.
 
Whatever the doctor explained, I don’t remember. All I remember was my wife’s shoulder and then going into a room where a woman gave me a ton of brochures and a heap of kindness. (Lots of women in the clinic, women with amazing hearts helping men in tears. What else is new?)

Geoffrey-Roche_02-(1).jpgI love drawing. Here’s one from around that time of Evelyn the bird. The day of learning my diagnosis, I was Evelyn and the women who cared for me at North York General Hospital were the ones who
picked me up. Again, amazing women.
 
Those first days were pretty bleak. Trying hard not to think too much about more bad news. Decisions to be made. People to tell. So much to learn.
 
As my dear friend Judy said: “Keep your sense of humour, take advantage of the fact you have cancer. Seriously! Get the parking spots you deserve.” She was right. I needed to keep up the jokes, the idiocy, the craziness that defines my life.


SURGERY, SEINFELD AND JUNIOR MINTS

Geoffrey-Roche_03-(1).jpg
We decided on surgery and my day came a few weeks later. I brought fresh bagels from Bagel House and smoked salmon from Kristapsons for the surgical team. (Seinfeld episode goes here). I got wheeled in and that’s the last I remember. It went an hour longer than planned. Had a transfusion as my blood pressure dropped. Marie-Claire was a bit freaked out but it was all good. Couldn’t sleep that first night, I was pretty pumped up. And hooked up.
 
Two days after surgery, my surgeon gave me the all clear. I was free to go! Home! Had thought it would be longer but it wasn’t, thank goodness.


WHAT TO SAY. AND WHAT NOT TO SAY


Geoffrey-Roche_04.jpgGeoffrey-Roche_05.jpg
Some words of advice – if people tell you they have cancer, don’t reminisce about other friends, family, acquaintances that have had it. I don’t care. I have it. Not you. What you need to do is hang in and listen. Just be there. Call. Cards on paper are also things of beauty you covet.

A human voice meant the world. You can’t begin to imagine the impact. A hospital visit from my friend Philip Stern (see picture at left) was a great gift. And then this young priest named Andrew from our church came (see picture at right). There in my hospital bed he said a prayer over me. Now there’s a moment. Apparently it worked.
 

DON’T BE DUMB. GET CHECKED

 
If you’re a man 50 or over, visit your doctor and talk about the right testing approach for you and the PSA test specifically. Prostate cancer is not great but if caught early there’s close to a 100 per cent chance of survival. Remember, this isn’t something that pops up because you don’t feel well one day. If you’re not checked, you may not find out until it’s too late.
 
I am fortunate that I had the love and support of family and friends that made this journey a lot easier. I am fortunate to have had the amazing care of my family physician Dr. Bruce Topp, my surgeon Dr. David Hajek and the amazing staff of the Prostate Clinic at North York General Hospital. They are heroes. I am forever thankful to them.
 
I’m now cancer free! I did this final drawing of our daughter while I convalesced. Hopefully it gives you some sense of my happiness today.
 
Geoffrey-Roche_06.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Posted: 2019-10-07 12:49:45 PM


Tags

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

Archive

November 2019(0)
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)
Septembre 2018(4)
August 2018(0)
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)