Surrounded by rainy dark clouds, a man's silhouette shows a sunrise over two hikers in the snowy mountains.

Your Best Days May be Yet to Come

It’s been more than five years since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At the time I was living in the UK and wrote this:

"I was diagnosed with prostate cancer on 20th November 2017. Prior to the diagnosis there had been blood in my urine. I went to see my doctor who referred me to the Urology department at Guy’s Hospital, London Bridge. A physical exam suggested something was up and a biopsy confirmed everyone’s suspicions. I was 63 years old."

I'm still here

I’m happy to say I’m still living and indeed still live in London. I’ve sometimes been asked what I expected when first diagnosed and whether there have been any positive experiences. Well obviously, the major positive is that I’m still here writing and living.

Many people, in their mind at least, run the words cancer and death in quick succession. I’m glad to report that is not always the case. I suppose I’m living proof that the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

My treatment, which I’ve discussed elsewhere on these pages, was prolonged (three years on hormone therapy and more than two months of radiotherapy). But it was tolerable. Most of the side effects that came as part of the treatments are now history, and I’m part of the enviable NED (no evidence of disease) squad. How long that remains the case, only time will tell.

A fluctuating PSA

It was back in 2019 that my oncologist told me my PSA had fallen to 0.03. In August 2020 I had my final hormone therapy jab. I really don’t miss those medieval instruments of torture being fired into my abdomen. A year later my PSA had retreated still further to 0.02.

Come February 2022, with most of the side effects gone, my PSA had risen to 0.23. In August of last year, it rose still further to 0.41, and when checked this February it stood at 0.50. It’s only when it hits 2.0 that alarm bells sound, so I’m rather hoping the upwards progression will slow or better still, stop. I’ve never been one to say I’m cancer free, or I’ve beaten cancer. It just seems like tempting fate.

Still some gas left in my tank

I’m a relatively healthy 68-year-old, and I still feel there’s some gas left in the tank. That is why an old friend of mine and I are going hiking in the Himalayas, as of my writing this. Our destination is Annapurna basecamp. Now whether we make it to basecamp I don’t know, but you can rest assured we will give it our best shot.

This same friend said an interesting thing to me the other day where he divided traveling and old age into three stages:

  • Go go
  • Go slow
  • Don’t go

The meaning is self-explanatory; in the early years you should get traveling as much as you want to, or can afford to, as thereafter the pace may slacken. Given that we are about to go strolling among the peaks of Nepal, we clearly think we are still part of the first group. We could, of course, be proved wrong and may have slipped unexpectedly into group two. Time and the mountains will tell.

The best days can still be ahead

One thing is for sure: if someone had told me in November 2017 that I would be setting off for the Himalayas five years later, I would have been giddy with happiness. So don’t give up. Grab the moment, your best days might just be ahead of you.

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