‘My dad’s prostate cancer put everything into perspective – all that matters is having him here’

‘My dad’s prostate cancer put everything into perspective – all that matters is having him here’

December 3, 2023

Earlier this year, EastEnders’ Alfie Moon, played by Shane Richie, was given the devastating news that he had prostate cancer. But Alfie isn’t the only one. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and one in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime. Here, Trevor Gray, 68, from Berkshire, tells his story…

“I was driving in London one day in September 2021 and I was struggling to find somewhere to park. All of a sudden I really needed the toilet but I had nowhere to go and for some reason I couldn’t hold it in and ended up wetting myself. Nothing like that had ever happened before, but I laughed it off. It was my wife Debra who insisted that I go to see a GP.

I ended up seeing a GP a couple of weeks later where I had a PSA test to measure the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in my blood. My level was 2.1 and I was assured it was nothing to worry about. I had a digital rectal examination too and was told that nothing was out of the ordinary for someone my age.

Just to be on the safe side, I was referred to an oncologist who did the same tests. As far as I was concerned, everything was rosy but I underwent a biopsy a week later to double check.

Two days after the biopsy I received a phone call telling me to go back to the hospital. I thought it was normal to review the results, but as soon as I walked into the room I saw prostate cancer leaflets all over the desk and knew it wasn’t good. I turned to my wife and said, ‘I have prostate cancer’. I asked the doctor if it was true and he confirmed my suspicions. My wife and I burst into tears.

I was never told the grade of my cancer, but I was told that the cancer I had was aggressive. Luckily an MRI and bone scan showed that the cancer hadn’t spread.

I’m a very pragmatic person, so the first thing I did was ask about the prognosis. I was told I could have radiotherapy or chemotherapy but it’d likely come back in 18 months and by then it could be too late. My specialist’s advice was to have my prostate taken out. For me it was a no-brainer. If that’s what I was being told to do, there was no other option.

In November I went to London to have the operation. I woke up the next day and I was told that they’d managed to get it all out. I had to have a catheter for a bit but was left with minimal scarring. I then had PSA tests every three months but that’s changed to every six months. My levels are now undetectable at 0.6.

Raising awareness of prostate cancer is so important and it’s crucial people get checked out as they know their bodies better than anyone. The diagnosis has opened my eyes to how precious life is and I’m using every day to create memories with my family.”

Trevor’s daughter Natalie, 30, reveals how her life changed following her dad’s diagnosis…

“My dad could have his leg hanging off and still not go to the doctors, so I knew it was serious when he called and said he was undergoing tests. Even before then I knew something wasn’t right. I actually had a bit of an argument with my mum because I said she and dad were acting weirdly, but she told me I was reading too much into it.

I’m so proud of my dad for going to the GP after that incident in London, because the dad I know would’ve pretended that it didn’t happen. Hearing the news put everything into perspective. I moved back home to focus on my family and I remember my sister and I crying our eyes out in Starbucks while dad was having his operation. At that moment, I realised nothing really mattered so long as I had my dad.

Since my dad’s diagnosis, my life has changed. I’m a singer and I wrote a song about realising what's important in life and being there for people. On my dad’s birthday, I made him sit in the kitchen, where he’d told us about his cancer, and played it to him – I can’t describe what it’s like to have him here.”

Like Natalie, support the men in your life and encourage them to take our 30-second risk checker to learn if they’re at risk of prostate cancer, and if so, what they can do about it prostatecanceruk.org/risk-checker

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