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How did it all begin?
I have never tested my PSA before. It was not until I changed my family doctor that I learned that, at my age, I should have my PSA tested long before. So I finally checked my PSA. I collected the results and my doctor told me to go running to a urologist. At first I thought I would try with natural methods I found on the Internet, but none of them actually worked.
What kind of methods were these?
First and foremost, diet. No more alcohol, fatty foods, meat. I started using diet and all sorts of herbs. But my results deteriorated after 6 months and only then did I visit a urologist.
You went to a urologist after 6 months of using traditional methods. Why did it take you so long?
This can be an embarrassing condition for men. And I wanted to avoid surgery at all costs. Now I know I should have started my treatment earlier. My wife tried to persuade me to visit a specialised doctor from the very beginning.
What happened next?
My urologist was very realistic as to what awaits me and I agreed to have all tests done. I had the per rectum examination, biopsy, then computer tomography, and it turned out I had a malignant tumour which has spread to the bones.
How did you react?
I felt it was tragic and that the things start to get really serious. My methods didn't work and that's why I had to receive treatment. I have tried, but I needed more radical therapy.
Did your wife accompany you?
Yes, she was desperate to accompany me from the very beginning, just like my son and my daughter.
How did your wife react? How does she support you?
My wife asked me to go to the doctor much earlier than I did instead of trying out the natural methods. But here I am. I know she worries a lot, but I keep telling her it'll be OK. I got myself prepared. I do not overdramatise my situation, everyone has to deal with a condition of some kind. There comes the time when you get old and various diseases afflict you. I tell my wife that there are plenty of reasons to live, and ask her not to worry that much. She supports me with her prayers, she helps me spiritually, we talk a lot over the phone.
What was your treatment like after you were diagnosed?
I first underwent hormone therapy, but my leg started swelling heavily and I had to discontinue the treatment. Then I was receiving other injections every 3 months. My PSA declined, so I'm improving. My doctor told me to visit a medical centre where I would get a proper chemotherapy. This is how I arrived here, at this hospital in Warsaw. I continue my hormone therapy in Lublin and I will comply. I won't screw up.
Did you find it difficult to tell your co-workers about your disease?
I told my boss what I was going through. Apart from that there's no reason to be ashamed, that' a big bill. Perhaps someone will learn about my experience and I can save their life. When I'm back to work, I will definitely warm other men and convince them to regularly test their PSA.
How did the doctor tell you about the diagnosis?
I was at the doctor's office with my wife. I needed her support as I could have missed some important information about the disease. I felt it was important that we were together. The doctor asked me not to run away and to continue treatment no matter what. He also explained the treatment will improve my quality of life, the cancer will remain under control, and then we'll see. He was very matter-of-fact.
What kind of support do you consider most important?
It's enough to talk, hug, and comfort. That' all you need to be more satisfied, to feel better. Obviously when you just lie in bed and do nothing, some bad thoughts come to your mind. Then I tell myself "Do not be sad, because that's the worst thing you can do." My doctor told me: Henryk, you must do 80% of the job, leave the rest to me. You have to take a positive approach to this disease, you have to be willing.”
How has the disease affected your life? How about your relationship with your wife?
It's improving. We spend more time together and stay closer. We are more focused on ourselves. I have a fabulous wife, she's like a countess. That's a lot, we are partners.
What would you advise other men?
Men are afraid this condition will dampen their sex drive, they only reluctantly talk about it with their wife. But it's important to talk about these problems and about the disease. You should remember to get tested. Things happen. In the hustle and bustle of daily life we often forget about ourselves and what's most important.