For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life. For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 49 years old and I recently had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring. In early February, I got the results of the latest PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing. Latest PSA test in April gave another, lower reading of 3.0 - So all's well? I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?
One of my best friends has had a couple of serious bouts with cancer. He first had it in 1983, when we first met (we were working at the same company for a while). It returned a few years later. Although he is alive and well and clear of the disease, he had all sorts of life changing issues. He's been there, had the surgery, done the chemo and got the T-shirt. We met up for a beer a few weeks ago and he asked me a question, which rather took me aback "have you got past the health kick phase yet?". I guess when you've lived with the shadow of the disease for the best part of thirty years, you get a bit cynical. The answer "Nope". I still am drinking pomegranite juice, avoiding dairy products, drinking five cups of green tea a day and eating organic where possible.
It is always good to meet a cynic though. They make you think and re-evaluate what you are doing. So what do I know? I had two PSA tests before I changed my lifestyle and the trend was rising and two after and the trend is falling. My weight has come down from 105 to 95.2 kilos. People keep telling me I'm looking healthy. On reflection though, I realised that the first glimmers of complacency had slipped into my lifestyle. My weight has actually risen from 94 to 95.2 kilos in the last week. Why? Well mostly down to drink. I've been boozing a fair bit more than I should of late. I usually have at least three nights off a week, but this has slipped down to one or even none. Weekends have become especially boozey. I blame some of it on my love of football. The Manchester City Premiership win kicked off a little spell, followed by the Chelsea Champions league win. There was also the issue of one of my best friends dying and a few sessions that resulted from catching up with old friends then.
So I realised that whilst, I'm probably in far better shape than I have been for a while, a bit more refocussing is needed. Now I don't subscribe to the school of thought that one glass of alcohol is bad for you, quite the opposite. The trouble is, I am a man who will drink the bottle if I open it. Even worse a couple of pints first simply wets my appetite. On top of that, we've been having quite a few curries of late. Again, as these contain Tumeric and peppers, this is good, but they get washed down with three or four beers, a brandy then a bottle of wine at home.
So all in all, yes I have slipped. So I gave some thought to this. When I found out my diagnosis, one of the targets I set was to get my weight down to 94 kilograms. The thing is that this is still above a healthy weight for me. Although I'm 6'1" I should really be no more than 90 kilos. So (much to my wife's disgust), I announced that I'm not going to drink, eat a takeaway or go out for a meal during the week until my weight is down to 90 kilos). I will of course break this for her birthday, which is coming up, and possibly for the UNISON conference, where they are showing A Tale of Two Barnets, in Bournemouth. I think it would be rude not to have a drink there. I will also have a drink for the opening party for my new studio
But apart from that, the target is 90 kilos. I will not be doing any special dieting (beyond what I do now), just not drinking at all and not eating out/takeaways apart from weekends. Do I think that this will stop my cancer developing? Probably not, but it will keep me focussed on my health.
I am starting to do some research for the film we're hoping to make in the autumn about cancer. I've not 100% decided what the narrative angle is. Should we focus on carers/patients or focus on lifestyle & causes or cover the whole spectrum. Ideally I want to make a film that people who have been through the experience I've had can watch and think "At least I'm not alone and even though the news is horrible, I got something positive from watching the film". The problem with the subject is that as I see it, there are three groups of cancer sufferers - a) Those who know that the disease is going to end very badly for them b) those who are in limbo waiting for some sort of news or development and c) Those who currently think they are on top of the disease. Is it possible to make a film that has something to offer to all those groups and their support networks? I don't know. But I will know come September.