Ian was 55 when he was diagnosed in July 2019 with prostate cancer. He found he was increasingly thirsty and tired, and was concerned that he had diabetes.
However, blood tests and a biopsy confirmed that it was prostate cancer.
In November 2019 Ian had a radical prostatectomy, which went well. Unfortunately, however, one of the side effects from the surgery is incontinence.
“I’ve seen various medical professionals about it and I’m meant to be having a small operation,” explains Ian. “But that won’t happen until the end of 2024. In the meantime I just have to manage it.”
“Following surgery, my PSA was still very high. So they investigated and I ended up having radiotherapy, which brought it right down. I went to Torbay Hospital five days a week for six weeks. Luckily the hospital is very local to where I live.”
Ian’s recovery from the treatment was gradual and he was given hormone therapy injections to lower the amount of testosterone in his body to lower the risk of prostate cancer returning.
“I didn’t feel too bad physically and mentally during treatment,” Ian recalls, “and luckily work wasn’t an issue for me, as I’m not currently able to work, due to various other health problems.
“I’m normally a positive person and I’ve had lots of support from family and friends. Plus Torbay Hospital gave me a list of support groups.
“However, after the treatment I felt a bit low at times and when I saw information about Cancer Coach on Facebook, I thought “I’d like to give it a try.”
“So I joined Cancer Coach in August 2021. Initially, I wasn’t 100% sure about it, but I thought if I can share my story and hear other people’s stories it might be good for me and it was.
“Chris, the Cancer Coach who ran the group, was really nice and I got on very well with the three other people in the group. We all had different cancers, but it was interesting to hear each person’s story.
“Meeting other people with similar cancer experiences and hearing what their journeys were like, helped me a lot. We encouraged each other and it was good to talk about my own cancer journey.
“It was a male only group, which I feel helped us bond. We all had a laugh while sharing our feelings, which is so important. We talked about all sorts of things, including the quality of the service and treatment we received, depending on where we lived. It was very interesting to hear everyone’s stories.
“I still find the relaxation techniques I learnt through Cancer Coach very helpful – this was something new to for me to try. I use them when I’m tired, as they have a very calming effect.
“Cancer Coach has helped me take back control of my life, especially when I feel a bit sad. It’s also helped me to deal with things like being on a long waiting list for an operation. It’s hard to cope with the waiting and the ongoing problem of incontinence is frustrating at times.
“Although we all got on well as a group, I don’t keep in touch with the others. I keep myself busy by reading and I stay physically active by walking a great deal. I’m also a member of a theatre company/choir.
Cancer Coach support groups are run by Cancer Support UK for people who have finished their cancer treatment and need someone to speak to. The groups are split into weekly sessions over six weeks and are carried out free of charge by telephone or over a video call. Each group is facilitated by an experienced Cancer Coach who leads the group, offers support and structures the conversation.
Cancer Coach is for anyone over the age of 18 who has completed treatment for cancer, regardless of whether they finished treatment a few months ago or a few years ago. Apply to join a Cancer Coach support group online now.