When the specialist nurse told me I had prostate cancer she advised me of the options I would be given. I could have no treatment, which involved “watching and waiting”. Basically just letting things develop before taking any action. Or, I could choose to have surgery, which would entail removal of the prostate gland. Finally, I could opt to have a combination of hormone therapy and radiotherapy. I was given information on all of the options so that I could make myself familiar with the processes before having further meetings with the consultants.
I was also told that I would need to have a urine flow test on my next visit which meant I had to hold on to my pee for a few hours beforehand. Something that has not been so easy in recent times although until now I have not had any mishaps.
Within days I received a letter informing me I had appointments with two consultants on the same morning. The first was to discuss surgery and the second to discuss radiotherapy etc. There would be time in between for me to have my urine flow test.
On the morning of the appointments I arrived early at the hospital, had a coffee at Costa and then popped into M+S to buy a litre bottle of water. I needed a full bladder for the pee test. I then proceeded to the outpatients’ waiting room, where I put on my headphones, got out my Kindle and relaxed while also drinking plenty of water. Mentally preparing myself for what was about to come. Life could hardly be much better. Could it?
My first appointment was running late when I was called in. This one was to take me through my condition and discuss the option for surgery. I listened intently to what was being said to me but the more I heard, the less likely it seemed that I would take this option. If the guy had been a salesman, he would have been talking himself out of a deal. However, I did not have to make a decision yet and I still had to hear about the alternatives.
On leaving the consultation room, I immediately went to check in for my next appointment, only to be told that my name had already been called. I was told not to worry and within a minute or two the doctor called for me again. No worries indeed.
Following the introductions, I asked the doctor, “not wishing to be rude but will you be trying to sell me this treatment? does your budget rely on a certain amount of people having treatment?” The doctor looked a bit shocked but assured me that was not the case. My reason for asking was that in the information pack given to me previously, was an invitation to take part in a clinical trial and I was seriously considering it.
During the discussion that followed, there was a knock at the door and the doctor had to leave to attend to something else. She apologised, telling me she should not be long and then she was gone. I went back to reading my Kindle.
Probably no more than five minutes passed before the doctor returned. More apologies were made, discussions resumed and then I felt the urge to pee. Nowadays, when I get that urge, it’s not exactly an early warning. More of a demand for instant action. Whatever was said to me in that room after that moment was lost on me. I remembered none of it. All I could do was concentrate on not pissing myself.
After what seemed an eternity, the meeting was over. I asked the doctor if she could notify the specialist nurse that I was here for the flow test and that the situation was quite urgent. Fortunately for me, the nurse was close by as was the room for the test and both flowing and testing could begin. Not a moment too soon. Were they taking the piss? Maybe.
The pee test result was fine and was followed by an ultrasound scan to see what was left in my bladder. Not much, I was relieved to hear. I was free to leave. By the time I got home I realised that I could remember everything about the surgery option and very little about the radiotherapy and/or clinical trial option. I had lost my focus and had little choice but to phone the hospital and ask for another appointment. No problem, they said and I was given an appointment for the following week. I guess they are used to this sort of thing.
Consultion Take 2
During the intervening days, having decided againsy surgery, I re-read all of the literature I had on Hormone Therapy and Radiotherapy plus the clinical trial, which is known as Pivotal Boost. I took the precaution of writing down any questions I had in readiness for the appointment.
It all went very well this time and I made the decision there and then to take part in the trial. The decision is not binding and should I change my mind, I can opt out without it having an adverse effect on the treatment I then receive. I will be allocated to a group randomly to determine which specific treatment I get and in the meantime, I have to have yet more scans.