Len, aged 57 of Brentwood, had a laparoscopic (keyhole) prostatectomy operation at Spire Hartswood Hospital by consultant urologist Mr Shiv Bhanot. We spoke with Leonard to learn more about what led to his surgery and how it has changed his life.
“I first went to see my GP seven years ago after some worrying symptoms, but was told that everything was OK. At the time I remember thinking that I wasn’t too happy with the diagnosis, as there were no tests carried out, but I trusted what I was told. I lived on with the problems that arose, with aspects like the constant toilet breaks at work which were inconvenient and the more they occurred, the more embarrassing were the comments made by my work colleagues. It wasn’t only my work that was affected, social trips to the pub with my friends were always uncomfortable, as the alcohol made the regular toilet trips even more unbearable.”
Len went on to discuss how he came about getting checked again.
“After seeing local advertising on ‘Prostate Cancer Awareness’ I decided that it was now time to do something about it. I went to see my current (and new) GP and was instantly sent for tests. When these came back with the news that I had a raised PSA (prostate specific antigen), I decided to use my BUPA private medical insurance and asked to be referred privately. Mr Bhanot’s name was mentioned to me, and I instantly recognised the name from an article on prostate cancer that I had read in the local paper. This happened to be the article that Spire Hartswood Hospital had released in conjunction with Shiv Bhanot and patient David Wilson, which covered Mr Bhanot’s laparoscopic prostatectomy procedure. Following discussion with Mr Bhanot, I was then introduced to David Wilson, and took confidence from his recovery and the techniques that Mr Bhanot used."
"After the biopsy Mr Bhanot was able to sit me down and discuss the treatment options that were available to me, including radio frequency treatment, and the fact that one option would be to simply monitor the cancer for the time being. I didn’t want to take this option, as I saw this as a risk after the initial symptoms being so long ago. My family supported me throughout the difficult decision and I can’t thank them enough. I found myself frantically reading the Internet after being told the words ‘prostate cancer’. It was a scary time, and I thought I needed to find out as much as possible. From this research, and discussions with my family and Mr Bhanot, I knew that the laparoscopic prostatectomy would be the best option for me."
"I chose Spire Hartswood Hospital as my daughter underwent a procedure here and was wholly impressed. The operation was carried out in April 2009, and it was very much a case of ‘as soon as possible’. Despite Mr Bhanot assuring me that that we had caught it in time, I was concerned that I had left it too long. In addition to this, my son had his wedding planned for June, so I wanted to make sure that I had recovered enough to enjoy the big day.”
Since the operation, Len has been able to reflect on many issues that have arisen throughout his recovery, and what the future now holds.
“From the moment I went to Spire Hartswood I was very happy with the hospital overall. The nursing care was brilliant, and the food was a delight – which is not always the way in a hospital these days. As my daughter had previously been to Spire Hartswood Hospital, I knew (to a degree) what to expect, and certainly wasn’t disappointed. The physiotherapist came to see me before the operation and discussed the exercises that I would need to complete post-op. Here I was introduced to the ‘pelvic-floor exercise’, which I have stringently incorporated into everyday life. I have always tried to look after myself physically and kept a general level of fitness. I am a qualified football referee, and I have used the close season to make sure that I could return to the pitch for the new season. I am back to jogging and general keep fit, and am planning for the new season."
"In terms of my lifestyle and how it’s changed since the operation, I know now that I have to take things a little easier. In terms of my fitness and exercise, I can go out for jogs etc, but I know that I cannot push myself as far as prior to the operation. Other aspects that I have had to come to terms with are the negative effects sexually. This is something which is difficult to come to terms with initially, but there is help available which just takes some time and getting used to."
"In contrast to this, mentally I know within myself that the cancer has gone, and this is a huge weight off my mind. In addition to this, my family feel more comfortable as the initial shock of having prostate cancer had a negative effect on those around me. Once again, I can’t thank my family enough.”
For anyone that may find themselves in a similar position, Len has some very simple advice, “It is very cliché to mention getting help and not putting it off, but this is really the main piece of advice that I can offer. I can appreciate that it is a nerve wracking time when you feel that something is wrong, and it is often a matter of pride. However, it is important not to be nervous, and is essential to have anything untoward checked and tested. I would also emphasise the importance of the post-op exercises. Mr Bhanot discussed the exercises, and how they would help, and I ensured I created a strict schedule, and stuck to it religiously.”