Some of you may remember that nearly eight years ago on 18th September 2009, I spent an hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square where I was one of the 2,400 individuals who participated in Antony Gormley’s splendid One and Other Project.
Resplendent in gold pants and gold cape I was able to talk about two things close to my heart: raising awareness of prostate cancer and the enjoyment of wine.
Everyone knows of my love of wine but not everyone knows that in 2005 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, discovered by taking regular PSA blood tests. I was given a 2-month radiotherapy course and regular hormone treatment until 2008 and this kept the cancer at bay.
During that time, I felt no pain nor discomfort, and I continued to take a regular PSA blood test which remained comfortingly very low for several years. With annual consultant appointments my condition was monitored so the cancer remained very much at the back of my mind.
However, last year, the PSA started to rise again and I began suffering from severe lower back pain. Scans this time last year showed that the prostate cancer had flared up again and was categorised as advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, since it had entered very slightly into the base of my spine.
I received a big dose of radiotherapy and re-started 3-monthly hormone injections to reduce the pain and to control the spread of the prostate cancer, with regular PSA tests to monitor this.
The return of my cancer in its non-curable form encouraged me to make some changes. So, I have stopped my wine club and wine sales in general and only rarely do wine talks. However, this year I have been travelling widely with Wink in the French Alps wine regions in preparation for her new book. And, I invested in a new camera to contribute better photos for the book, too. Photography continues to give me huge enjoyment.
Vineyards above Jongieux, Savoie
For the last eleven months I was doing fine, though needing to rest now and then in the day, but suffering little pain or discomfort. But, from mid-August I started suffering pains again and it turned out that my PSA was going up.
At the end of August I spent four days in hospital in the Cancer Unit of Bart’s, London. They managed the pain and I had another scan which showed an increase of the bone metastases but fortunately no serious damage. I have started a series of bone-strengthening treatment and the hormone treatment has also been changed.
Now back home, I am able to do everything normally although I am now getting tired more often during the day, still suffering some pain and rattling with different medicaments.
Please accept my apologies if I have given you too much information but I did want to keep you informed and share some explanations. And for my male readers over 45, if you haven’t already, please do discuss with your doctor getting regular PSA tests.
As long as I can control my pain the future holds no fear for me, I am positive and will continue to enjoy life in the company of family and good friends. Although my medical care is in London, I plan to continue spending time at our home in the French Alps, and perhaps even enjoy some other travel adventures.
Ah, and I can enjoy my daily glass of wine (size of glass has not been specified…) which I will sniff, swirl, slurp and sip with my habitual relish.