Getting Cancer Changes Things

Using running to help me to keep healthy

I’ve started and stopped multiple times recently regarding writing this post. But having had time for it to register I think for me to deal with it is to be frank, open and up front. In doing so I feel it will help me deal with it and maybe even help others.

Hello, my name is Richard…..earlier this month my life changed forever. At the start of the year I began to rebuild after losing 7 months of running due to injury. For me my goal this year was to get back running and trying to get back to my old speed self but something hasn’t been right for a long time but I put it down to a number of things, over training, tiredness, getting older, stress of the issues we had with my daughters heart conditions for the last 2 years. However, earlier this month my urine was like something out of a horror movie, in that it was pure red. I posted it to social media, most people reckoned it was something runners sometimes get called Hematuria. I thought I had a water infection. I didn’t ignore it and showed my wife who got me into my doctors straight away. My doctor did a urine test but looked concerned, order some more tests and asked me to comeback a couple of days later. So Wednesday arrived but she still didn’t have the results back and said I will phone you.

Later that day she called me back and said the tests showed some abnormal results. I had a PSA test which I at the time didn’t know, helps to detect prostate cancer. The test, which can be done at a GP surgery, measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein made only by the prostate gland. So next up I was referred for further tests at the Hallamshire hospital which including an ultra sound on my kidneys and bladder, a digital rectal exam (DRE), A cystoscopy and also a biopsy. The tests showed a few things, firstly my left kidney is in a strange location and there is a shadow on it, that requires further investigation. So I am now waiting a CT scan for that. My bladder tests came back normal, however the other tests revealed my biggest fear…..

… I have Prostrate Cancer at 38! The doctor explained I had the early stages. While this isn’t good news it’s the best of a bad situation. For now the doctor does not want to do anything and has explained they are doing “Active surveillance” which is a way of monitoring slow-growing localised prostate cancer, rather than treating it straight away. The aim is to avoid or delay unnecessary treatment and its side effects. Yes it’s strange to be told I have cancer but for now I don’t need any major treatment such as surgery or radiotherapy!!. The have also discussed Hormone therapy with me as well. All options are on the table until I go back soon to where we will make decision of what the long term plan is.

For now I will have active surveillance, which means I will have regular tests to monitor my Cancer. The tests aim to find any changes that suggest the cancer is growing.

  • PSA tests
  • MRI scans
  • digital rectal examinations (DRE)
  • prostate biopsies.

If any of my test results show that my cancer might be growing, I will be offered further tests to check on the cancer. If any changes are found, I can have treatment that aims to get rid of the cancer. I have spoken to a number of men who have the same cancer, one has had it 10 years and it’s not spread, so it’s a strange cancer and everyone reacts differently. The hard part will be learning to live with it knowing I have it and things could change at any time.

I genuinely felt that when I went to the doctors it was a ‘nothing to worry about’ appointment which would require no follow up. Anyway obviously this turned out not to be the case. My feeling immediately on my doctor saying the ‘C’ word was one of UTTER shock….I simply could not understand how someone who was otherwise fit and healthy, having run marathons, didn’t drink, smoke or eat rubbish, could have such a thing!. At first I really struggled to take in the news with a million thoughts rushing round my head. I am 38 for Gods sake!,..I run marathons…I eat a healthy diet…..I am not overweight…..I don’t smoke…….I am not diabetic…..there is no family history….I simply don’t “tick any of the boxes”!…how can this be!.

So why have I decided to write about it?……well, I remember when I first found out about my diagnosis I did what probably a lot of people do in the same position….spend hours googling about it to try and find someone in a similar situation as me. I found some incredible stories about some amazing people and how they had got through their treatment. The one overriding theme which I took out from what I read was the importance of ‘staying positive’. Whatever your diagnosis, you will invariably find someone in a tougher position than you. If there was one thing that I knew would help me keep focused and stay positive throughout what I knew would be a long term condition, it was my running!. I hope that reading my blog and my regular updates, it can maybe help others in a similar position to realise that life doesn’t just stand still when you are diagnosed with cancer. If you were an active person before cancer, then use this to get you through the treatment and beyond!. Keep telling yourself ‘this is a battle worth fighting’. With  possible surgery and  other treatment further down the line, I am under no illusions that this will be an incredibly tough journey. I know for me it’s still very early and in a way lucky to have caught it early, but I know that keeping positive and active will be THE KEY to getting through it.

So running for me is my way of saying FU to cancer!

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  1. Lots of respect for you mate as a fellow runner. I know 2 people who have beaten prostate cancer. Keep running, stay positive.

  2. Wow Rich! That can’t have been easy to share. Wishing you all the best.

  3. Wow. There is bad luck and there’s really bad luck. This and a heart attack as well! A lot of people would just curl up in a ball and comfort eat, cry, drink etc., but not you, you are tough and your runs are incredible. Take care and don’t walk under any ladder’s.

    1. Thanks Helen, I am firm believer in you have two choices quit or fight. I always prefer to fight. I’ve had enough setbacks in my life to almost take it in my stride. However the heart attack, while mild, knocked me for 6 and I still know I’m not out the woods yet.

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