Mick takes us through his cancer journey, from his diagnosis with prostate cancer to treatment to survivorship.
I want to go home and have a cup of tea with my wife. Then I’m going to work. I’m in control. It’s not. And I think that, and having a positive outlook, that’s what helped me through it all.
Hi, my name is Mick Pittman and I’m a cancer survivor.
I was diagnosed in August 2008 with prostate cancer, and it was just through a normal two yearly physical.
I used to go in each year and have my, the physical, which included a digital rectal examination.
And for some reason two years ago my GP asked if I would like to have a PSA check, a blood test.
So I said, Yep, go ahead and do that.
It came back with a slightly elevated PSA. It was prostate specific antigen.
It was a bit higher than what it should have been for my age.
So he gave me some antibiotics, treated me for prostatitis, which is another medical condition that men can get down in that area.
And so I had antibiotics for one month.
Went back and my PSA had gone up by one.
It did that in one month, which it should take 12 months to do.
So he thought that could be a bit of a problem and that we should just sit and wait and watch it, because prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer. We waited six months, did another PSA test, and my PSA had doubled. He… we talked it through.
He indicated that I probably should see a urologist, our specialist in that area.
And so I went and saw a urologist.
We had a talk. He did some more tests and he thought that there was a good chance I would have prostate cancer.
So he suggested I consider a biopsy.
I was only too happy to do that because I’m not a put my head in the sand sort of a guy. So I just said, go ahead and do it, you know, knock yourself out.
So he took 16 biopsies, not very comfortable, but they came back. At least 3 or 4 had showed definite prostate cancer.
So then it was a matter of looking at the facts and the options.
I mean, I wasn’t shocked. I think I was probably disappointed for almost a minute.
And after that, it’s just a matter of, I wanted the facts. I wanted the options and more or less get out of my way because I want to make decisions on that.
I immediately contacted the local prostate cancer support group.
I went along, listened to a few people talk about their journey.
I selected somebody who I felt would be a good mentor for me. Just went straight up and asked him if he was, if he would mind talking with me about it some more.
And that was a wonderful support between the local support group and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, who are the peak body and do a lot of wonderful work, provide resources and, and education and awareness. They were just magnificent. So I got all the facts.
My wife and I actually went away for a couple of days so we could talk about it, research it a little bit more.
Made the decision because there are various options and I don’t know whether you want me to go into those a little bit.
Surgery wise, there are three options you can have open surgery, so that’s a full cut.
You can have keyhole, which they put five little little holes and operate there. And then there’s robotic, which is like keyhole, but the surgeon could be 5 or 10m away looking at a computer screen.
I opted for the open surgery.
First, my urologist asked if I would like a second opinion and, because I want all the facts, I said yes.
I didn’t go for another surgeon. Second opinion from a surgeon because I felt I had a good surgeon.
So I asked for a second opinion from an oncologist.
So luckily they have a cancer clinic in Gosford. So I went and saw their oncologist.
He did more tests and gave me his advice that because I was young and healthy, I had an anticipated long life expectancy. I had to do something.
They both told me that, I had to do something. If I did nothing, being so young and having a long life expectancy, the prostate cancer would kill me. So I made the decision and went and had my prostate out last year.
It’s a radical prostatectomy. That was in April. I had that out. The pathology on my prostate indicated that there could be a little bit of cancer left on the on the margins on the cut line. So we had to keep monitoring it. They would have monitored it anyway.
But in January this year, my PSA was still going up. It should have been undetectable.
So in February, February of this year, I started seven weeks of radiation treatment. Did that every day, every day except weekends.
It didn’t hurt. There were side effects.
And I experienced a couple of side effects, somewhat minor, I guess, compared to what I’m told other people experience, but slowly got on top of those. Been through it all.
I’m not sure exactly what here, of course, with, with prostate cancer.
It’s prostate, not prostrate. Prostate is where you lay down or flat on the ground.
With prostate cancer, the three main things for all men, black or white, is that you end up being cancer free. And I’m still not cancer free. That you are not incontinent, meaning that you don’t have control of your bladder or your bowel and that you are potent so you can still have erections and have sexual intercourse. And I’ve experienced those sort of side effects and slowly getting back on top of all those sorts of things. But they are the three main things.
The greatest support for me is my wife, and that’s why I’ve contacted the Prostate Cancer Foundation and I’m happy to go and talk with any Aboriginal men and women about prostate cancer, about the symptoms, the treatment, the support and all that sort of stuff, because knowledge is power and if you’ve got some of that information, you know, it’s just so much easier.
I know that cancer is a shock for some people that that it can impact on the rest of their lives. And I’ve, I’ve made the decision. And as I say, it’s because of my upbringing with my mother, my Air Force background. Cancer is not going to beat me.
It might, it might kill me. Chances are it won’t. But even if it even if it kills me, it will not beat me.
I’m still going to enjoy every day of my life and my life’s going on. Even with the radiation treatment.
I talk with the oncologist. I took control of it.
I told him that I wanted it in the morning. I want to go home and have a cup of tea with my wife. Then I’m going to work. I’m in control. It’s not.
And I think that’s a, that’s, that and having a positive outlook, that’s what helped me through it all.
Support is very, very important.
And there are lots of prostate cancer support groups full of men and women. And the women are welcome because they’re the ones who encourage, encourage, not nag their men to go and have health checks to help them make their decisions and then support them through it.