Had it not been for the War Office back in 2005 there is no doubt that I would not be here now. Like most men a visit to the doctors is not somewhere we go willingly.
It might be a good idea if I take a few minutes and give you a precis of events leading up to my statement re the War Office (hereinafter in this piece referred to as the WO) in the previous sentence.
In October ’05 our children sent us on a trip ostensibly as a 70th birthday present for me. Over 7 weeks we went to San Francisco, Las Vegas (Hoover Dam) New York, London & England, Salzburg (Mozart), Paris, Rome, Florence, Singapore and home to Sydney.
Whilst in San Francisco I contracted a slight infection between two toes and no matter what I did it wouldn’t go away. There was no discomfort and it never got any worse so I never worried too much about it. But that’s not to say the WO didn’t!
When we got back to Sydney one of the first things she did was trotted me off to see my doc re the infection and as her mind was made up I was not game to put up any resistance.
To be sure I didn’t just say “G’day” to the doc she came into the surgery with me and she told him that she wanted me to have a thorough going over as she didn’t know the last time I’d had a full medical. Naturally he did as he was told too!
I was told to come back in a few days time to get the results, and on this occasion I went alone, Jake (the doc) wasn’t there when I went back so I said that I’d see Doc. Mac. When he called me in he didn’t beat around the bush he just said “You’ve got cancer” and he was typing out a referral to an oncologist as he told me this.
After he’d finished typing he told me to get round and make an appointment to see this specialist and that this bloke was a top notch oncologist from the RNS and if anybody could do anything for me he was the man. So in a state of mild shock. it hadn’t really sunk in what he’d said I went around to the specialists rooms and made an appointment.
There was no delay and I was subjected to many tests (including what I called anal rape) full body X-raying and who knows what else and after all these tests were done I presented myself for the results. The WO did not come with me, which was for the best.
Once seated the specialist told me that my cancer was too large and too aggressive and that he could not operate and that I had one to two years at best. However there was then the good news.
The Cancer had not spread and was still contained within the prostate and that there was a treatment that was proving effective in cases such as mine and he sent me immediately into another of his rooms where I met Doctor Gerald Fogarty.
Dr Fogarty is the most amazing man and doctor that I’ve ever met; and to him I owe these last seven or eight years. He greeted me with a great big boyish grin and called me mate, there was nothing put on about him that’s just the way he was and I hope still is; he put me at my ease straight away and explained to me the details of the treatment and told me that if I gave him the okay then he would guarantee me an extra 6-8 years. I’ve now had seven of them.
The treatment was Brachytherapy and was relatively new to Australia. It had not as yet been approved by the Australian Government and was therefore not available on Medibank/Medicare and if I agreed to it it would have to be done in a private hospital and I’d have to pay the costs.
Though the WO was not there I gave him the okay without getting her permission 🙂 I was feeling brave!
Doc. Fogarty then produced the biggest syringe I’d ever seen; promptly took a wad of my stomach in his hand, and plunged the needle in, gave a big grin and said something like “there the treatments started”.
I had these injections for a few months (there was a reason for this) and then I went into the hospital for the operation and had the nuclear rods (17 of them) inserted and was left to cook for 24 hours in the most awkward uncomfortable position imaginable. The rods were removed and for the next six weeks I went each morning Monday to Friday for radiology treatment.
And now seven years on I’m still going and the guarantee that Dr. Fogarty gave me will soon expire. However, I’m pleased to report that there is no sign of the cancer returning at present. From what I’ve been told it’s a miserable way to die; prostate cancer!
For those wondering about the side effects of Brachytherapy, the number 1 is sterilization, the treatment literally chemically castrates thus stopping the production of testosterone which in turn stops the production of bodily hair amongst other things. My legs, chest, armpits are devoid of hair. Luckily the hair upon my head stayed there. But that’s a very small price to pay.
Actually the War Office has a lot to answer for, it was she who bundled me into the car and took me off to the hospital when I had the stroke which I didn’t know about back in October 2011.