Ian and Prostate Cancer

First Encounters

I guess my first encounter with prostate cancer was a friend who lives in Surrey. He was diagnosed in his mid fifties, treated by removal of his prostate and then his life moved on as normal. Well, it was normal as far as the outside world was concerned, as he never discussed it.

Another friend, with whom I walk the dog, has had PC. His treatment and outcome mirrors my mate from Surrey. He has gone on to walk to Mount Everest base camp at age 72.

The Mental Effects

In October 2018, a friend who is phobic about needles, doctors and, well, just about everything medical, had a really sore back. He eventually went to the doctor and a month later was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer which spread to his back, pelvis, and lymph nodes. Going into a complete nosedive mentally, he asked to be taken to Switzerland for euthanasia amongst other radical “solutions”.

He was persuaded to have chemotherapy and was given monthly steroid injections. By the time he came out of chemo in May 2019, his PSA levels were back below 5, his primary tumour had shrunk, and no other aspects seemed to have worsened.

He was put on monitoring and, during the first four times he awaited test results, he became morose, bad tempered and isolated, convinced he was about to die. Each test result was an improvement on the previous one, and post-result he was outgoing, happy and fun to be with.

These mood fluctuations have reduced as time has gone on, and he continues to be monitored every 3 months. He is now an exercise junkie, rarely drinks and has stopped smoking. From spending all day, every day moping about in the house, he is out five days a week at exercise classes.

He still has PC from which he will never be cured, but he is learning to live with it. In many ways it has totally transformed his life and outlook in a positive way.

Life Changing Effects and Other Cancers

At around the same time another friend, 64, told me he had Stage 4 PC. His treatment mirrored that of my friend above. His life plans, however, have been totally changed by the diagnosis. He was due to retire and move to Australia to be near his son and grandchildren. Sadly, his ongoing healthcare needs have put an end to that plan. He is still working, though now from home. I’m afraid I haven’t had a recent update on his prognosis.

Another encounter doesn’t involve PC, but I mention it as it is the tragedy of a lifelong friend who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 64 and was dead within 6 months. A family member had the same disease and the same outcome, lasting just slightly longer.

A Brother

My penultimate story concerns one of our Brothers on the walk. He has just undergone surgery for oral cancer and awaits the outcome of tests to discover the prognosis and what further treatment is needed. He is of one of the many cancer sufferers who has been adversely affected by the pandemic and resulting delays in diagnosis and treatment.


Finally it is Stuart’s story. He only went to the doctor because he knew my friend with the medical phobias. Stuart, too, had a sore back.

Early indications were that he had Stage One. His PSA was fairly low, and his tumour was very small. Covid-19 played a part in determining his treatment, but through his own efforts he benefited from some new drugs, and campaigned alongside PCUK to have them approved.

Initially all seemed to be positive until a scan in early 2021 showed a small area that was not reacting to the drugs. He was put straight into chemo.

He had two types of prostate cancer, the second of which doesn’t affect PSA levels. It doesn’t react to steroids or other drugs and is rarely successfully treated by chemo. It has a poor prognosis and is usually terminal within a year. 

Stuart and Anne knew the prognosis from around May 2021, but kept the news within the family while they came to terms with it.

I visited in early July after being released from lockdown. Stuart looked unwell and struggled, but was still positive about plans for the future. We were due to go to Norfolk on holiday in late August. He still didn’t disclose his diagnosis but we all knew he was very unwell.

It was in early August, when he said he wouldn’t play golf again, that he found a way to tell me he was dying.

It was a very short ride to the end. I spoke to him for the final time on the night before he died. I think he knew, as always, I was in denial.

The Solution

In summary, prostate cancer can kill, but many are cured and among those who aren’t, many continue to live productive and fulfilling lives. One thing is clear. Reliable diagnostic tests are a priority to reduce early deaths and reduce the need for treatments.

The funds we raise on the 1,000 Years Hike will go towards achieving that end.