My journey with prostate cancer

True-blue . . . Local legends Wayne Eyles (left) and Keith McNab strut their stuff with blue hair courtesy of Maskbeauty and Hair to get behind this year’s Blue September to raise awareness of prostate cancer. PHOTOS: EVELYN THORN
Telling the tale . . . Prostate cancer survivor Keith McNab and wife Hilary McNab remain happy to tell their story as
some don’t get the chance.

Prostate cancer survivor 64-year-old Keith McNab of Owaka tells his story this Blue September.

In my early 40s while farming I had a visit from a salesman delivering a new piece of machinery. After we had unloaded, he asked me: ‘‘Have you had a PSA check?’’

My response was ‘‘I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.’’

Subsequently, the process of having a blood test to determine whether you were a possible candidate for prostate cancer was explained to me.

Years later, my father-in-law had prostate cancer, so once again I was made aware of PSA tests and physical examination of the prostate.

At 50 years of age I started the ‘‘process’’. My physical was fine but the blood test was at 4. A high, but acceptable level. I decided I would have an annual PSA and use my birthday as a reminder. At 57 after my usual blood test I was called back for a physical examination. I passed.

Throughout the next 12 months, every time I was near my doctor I got a physical exam.

At my 58th birthday, I had yet another blood test. Once again, I was asked to go back for a physical exam, to which I replied ‘‘Stuff that, I’ve had enough of them over the last 12 months!’’

A nurse called me back. My PSA reading was over 11. MUCH higher than it should be.

My gut sank.

Unbeknownst to me, 12 months earlier it was 5.7. The physical checked out fine, but I was sent to a urologist, given a biopsy and informed I had cancer.

I opted for hormone treatment and radiation. Partway through this, I met a man that had robotic surgery. I wondered if robotic surgery was an option for me. I was told I had ‘‘time’’.

I rang urology, organised a referral and within two weeks I had my prostate removed.

My prostate was FULL of cancer and there were three areas where the edge was too close to call. All I could think to myself was ‘‘oh, wow’’.

Fourteen months following removal there was a slight raise in my PSA. At 18 months, I got a call from my surgeon. ‘‘You’ve had another raise in your PSA. I believe there’s a small area where the cancer is still growing but contained in the prostate bed. You need to start radiation.’’ Seven weeks of daily treatment later — all clear.

I did three monthly PSAs and five years down the track I’m still all good. So why write this?

Since my own issues I have come to know other men with prostate cancer and their stories concern me.

I had good knowledge of the system and still missed the signals

— I never asked for my blood results back. I wasn’t aware that you could have prostate cancer and not have lumps that would otherwise be picked up by a physical examination.

Men have to take ownership of their bodies. Knowledge and acting upon it is the only way to protect yourself.

Men my age used to know prostate cancer as something old men died with, but it’s something in this day and age that is actually killing men, young or old. Men need to know the definition of a PSA and always ask for results.