By Patrick Campbell, ITV news blogger
I knew I had a problem but, like most men, I tried my best to ignore it. “It's not unusual for a man to take a book with him to the toilet” I protested to my wife Janet. “True” she replied “but not when they are going for a pee."
OK, it's a joke but it's often the first sign there is something wrong. No pain, no blood, no unusual sensations, just a poor flow when peeing which varies from case to case. I had the same problem 10 years earlier, when only in my forties and, an operation put it right. I had some bladder tissue removed. That was it. No mention of testing it or cancer so I went along my merry way.
It was the same this time. I assumed the same diagnosis. The consultant examined my prostate and said it felt “smooth”. It's nice to know that some part of me is smooth. He said it was probably the same problem as before but, to be sure, I ought to have a biopsy. The biopsy is not pleasant. There is no need to pretend it is. Your are injected to numb the area. I'd have liked an injection to numb the injection. Ten samples are taken. I was happy I didn't know this in advance. Despite the injection it's a bit like someone stapling your insides. It makes you jump. You count every one.
The results came back. Everything changed. I was referred to oncology in Bradford and discussed options with a wonderful surgeon whose hands looked so big I thought he was wearing cricket gloves. I was happy he didn't need to examine me.
Because of other possible complications caused by my earlier operation there was apparently only one option, surgery. There are two types, conventional and robotic. Both do the job well but the robotic is less invasive and enables speedier recovery. I am self employed so this was a decisive factor. At the time, the only local machine was in Leeds so off we went.
Another superb consultant surgeon, Bill Cross, gave me the facts. Because I had left it 15 months, there was a greater than 50% chance that the cancer had spread into the surrounding nerves. He advised me to have these removed and spare the second set. It's not that great a choice but I agreed. The date was set and I prepared for surgery.