Ian Johnston

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting South African men. It affects about 1in 9 white males and 1 in 6 black males.  There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer so if men are not going for regular screenings, the cancer could progress and by the time that they have symptoms and seek help it may no longer be curable. The more education and awareness that is created about prostate the more likely men are to go for screening tests.

Cancer is something that we all fear, but it remains like a distant relative, until it knocks on your door and informs you that it is moving in! I have always been diligent about going for my yearly medical check-up. This included the much feared digital rectal examination (DRE) and PSA blood test.  Through these regular examinations I discovered that I had an enlarged prostate.  Elevated PSA levels don’t necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer.  Inflammation or infection of the prostate can also cause a higher than normal PSA score.

Due to a consistent rise in my PSA levels I was referred to a urologist for a biopsy to determine the cause of my high PSA levels. I received a phone call from my urologist and my heart sank when I heard my urologist said to me; “Iain I am afraid the results of the biopsy came back positive, you have prostate cancer.” You hear the words but still struggle to come to terms with it. The first thing I did was to put the diagnosis into perspective. I reflected on the reality that there were many people who were less fortunate than myself, people that had serious health issues, managing disabilities, terminal diseases or who were living in abject poverty. They were all faced with far greater challenges every day than me.

I am by nature a positive person and always look for the positive outcome or for a solution as opposed to spending immeasurable amounts of time dwelling on the problem. It was Einstein who said; “Problems are seldom solved with the same degree of intelligence that created them.”

I, like most people, have read great heart-warming stories of cancer survivors and unfortunately, also the sad stories of those that due to the severity of the cancer have succumbed to the disease. Prostate cancer however is can be successfully treated and managed if it is diagnosed on the early stages.

When you receive a cancer diagnosis it is important to have people to talk to, be they family members, friends or professional people. I am always available to anyone who is faced with the uncertainty of what lies ahead if they find themselves having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, or even someone who is apprehensive about the annual check-ups. But whatever you do PLEASE go for your annual prostate cancer check-up, the early detection of prostate cancer can save your life.