A few weeks after finishing my last presidency I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I’d gone in for a routine bloodtest and as an afterthought asked my doctor to include a PSA test since my father had died of prostate cancer. My bloods were normal except for the PSA which at 7.2 was unusually high. A biopsy confirmed the presence of cancer. 10 years later my cancer remains uncured and incurable, despite two major operations, two extensive sequences of radiotherapy and regular debilitating injections. But it is progressing quite slowly and limited to two locations, one on my spine and one on my ribs. I’m due another sequence of radiotherapy shortly to try and slow down the metastasis on my ribs. And I’m not alone.
Over 40,000 men in Britain are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and over 10,000 die of it. And death from prostate cancer can be very nasty indeed. Caught early enough it can be cured, but it many cases the cure leaves men with a greatly diminished quality of life. For those who cannot be cured there are ways of holding back the disease, often, as in my case, for many years, but every treatment comes at a cost in general physical and mental health.
We still need a much more reliable test to distinguish between those whose cancer will never be a problem to them and do not need treatment, those whose condition is serious but not immediately life-threatening, and those whose cancer is aggressive and needs everything but the kitchen sink thrown at it. Meanwhile some men are being treated unnecessarily and others are only finding out too late that they are seriously affected. And we need a reliable cure. Progress is being made but we urgently need more research.
During my presidential year I would like you to help me raise money for Prostate Cancer UK. This organisation funds research and helps to train specialist nurses to support those diagnosed with the disease. I intend to do a sponsored walk in September. Originally, I had intended to walk from Winchester to Canterbury but the cost of doing that is quite high and it would not be easy to bale out if things get difficult. So instead I am going to do the whole of the London Loop, all 150 miles of it, taking full advantage of my freedom pass and returning as far as possible to my bed each night. I hope that others may join me on some parts of the route but I shall not lack for company as Archie will be accompanying me every step of the way. I shall be asking Rotarians, friends, family and others who understand the importance of this cause to sponsor me to the tune of 10p a mile. I know I can count on your support.
I set off from Chigwell on September 10. Wish me luck and if you can, come and join me and Archie (my Border Terrier) some of the way.
If you would like to get to know us, text the President, Friddy Bishai, on 07764 662001 and she will send you a link to our meeting.