Grantham Journal column: Sharing my cancer story may save a life

Councillor Ray Wootten EMN-160815-093122001
Councillor Ray Wootten EMN-160815-093122001
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“I am sorry but you have prostate cancer.” These few words sent a shiver down my spine when I was first diagnosed.

How can this be right I said to myself? I’m a non-smoker, have an occasional glass of wine and I’m not overweight. Yes, I had lower back ache and had to use the loo on a number of occasions throughout the night but nothing more as this for me was a normal way of life over several years.

My GP referred me to Lincoln Hospital and it was there that I saw how many people with cancer were waiting to be seen. I had a biopsy which was not pleasant and then I went on to a ‘watch and wait’ programme.

Months later the results from the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test showed that my PSA level had nearly doubled and my GP referred me to hospital again.

This time I chose Peterborough City Hospital where I am a county council governor, although further than Lincoln to travel to, it was an easier drive and had a great reputation.

Further tests revealed that my cancer had spread but fortunately it was contained within the prostate and the consultant recommended having surgery to remove the prostate. However, due to my earlier heart attack this was considered risky and I was advised to have radiotherapy and hormone treatment instead.

In the run up to Christmas I started my 1,400-mile round journey driving to Peterborough Hospital each day for a month, which is the equivalent of going to Edinburgh twice and back again. From start to finishing my treatment I was supported by my wife, Linda, friends and colleagues, many of whom offered to drive me to hospital each day.

I also had spiritual support from Father Stuart Cradduck. To everyone I say ‘thank you’ for your support as it was much appreciated as it made me determined to beat the cancer.

The dedication of the staff in treating me as an individual with respect and genuine care in asking me how I felt each day was welcomed and reassuring.

My consultant Dr Treece was a star who had time for me and answered all those niggling questions that spin around your thoughts in the early hours when you can’t sleep. I not only thank Dr Treece but everyone involved in my care and treatment, not forgetting our valued NHS.

You may ask why I am writing this article. Well, if I can pass on the message to one man to get their PSA checked when these symptoms arise then another life may be saved.

According to Cancer Research UK 11,287 men die each year from the 46,690 cases diagnosed.

I say make a GP appointment to have a blood test to find your PSA level now before it’s too late.

I am pleased to report that my treatment was a success and yours can be too if caught early enough.