Yes, you read it correctly, my mum, a woman, suffered with prostate cancer. She’s now 77 and first started to feel its effect in 2008. This was a setback as at the time, she was in remission from colon cancer, diagnosed at the start of 2006.
In 2010/11, the decease turned for the worse. She then went through the trials and tribulations of aural medication, chemotherapy, radio therapy and laser treatment. She had to manage the indignities of bed baths, incontinence and minimal bowel movements. When stools were passed, they were for the most completely uncontrolled, leading to constant changes of clothes.
Sadly, as time went by, I witnessed things getting more and more fraught as her frustrations increased and patience and resolve ran a little thinner. Over the years, the illness progressed to metastatic prostate cancer, migrating to hip bones and eventually to the skull area. It led to more pain and discomfort, los of site in one eye, almost no mobility and therefore becoming bed bound. The upshot of all this was a myriad of drugs, administered at various times throughout each day.
Struggling to cope and weighed down by the responsibility, my family was persuaded by our McMillan nurse to accept help in the form of carers (morning and evening), a hospital bed, a hoist etc etc. We acquiesced with some hesitation (pride getting in the way), but it was all a God sent.
At this juncture, let’s be clear; of course it was not my mother with prostate cancer; it was my father. We had become a three generation household in 2006 after she had been diagnosed with colon cancer. By the time my dad became ill, my wife and I were well versed in caring for elderly parents. However, it was she who bore the brunt of the physical and emotional trauma. They had after all been married for over 50 years.
It was painful witnessing them both suffer in the separate ways. But neither they or we would have had it any other way; it had been planned this way. Although planned, not everything was pre-determined and we went through an extremely steep learning curve through both sets of cancer.
If your family is in any way like mine, you will also assume responsibility for your loved one and not rely on the state. I mentioned pride earlier; not wanting to recognise the need for help and/or refusing it when offered. I would advise that if you are caring for a relative or friend, look for help and accept it when willingly when offered.
My dad passed away in Feb 2013, to my great relief and yes, my mum's. He suffered terribly through the last 6-7 months of his life...as did we. At the point which he took his final breath, it was time for him to be with his Maker and ultimately, be at peace.
For information and advice of prostate cancer, go to prostatecanceruk.org. On that site, you might also consider downloading a useful booklet called Know Your Prostate – A Guide to Common Prostate Problems.