Blokes go head-on to prostate cancer
THEY'RE everyday blokes with a confronting story to tell. Chris Warnes and Jon Sayer have survived prostate cancer and they want other men to hear their message - get checked now.
The two sailors have been friends for many years since they moved from New Zealand to set up their new lives in Queensland. Life has been about hard work and downtime on the ocean for these blokes. Chris has his own earthmoving business while Jon designs and builds offshore racing yachts and sleek powerboats.
What neither gave the slightest thought to was that they could end up a statistic - one in five men are diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 85.
But, for Chris and Jon, other than being over 50, there was no other risk factors for them - no family history of the disease, no high fat and low vegetables diet, no high testosterone levels, no obesity. So why them?
Chris, 72, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 62. "It was the funny thing with me," Chris said. "I had absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, nothing. It was just because I got checked every six months that they picked it up through blood checks."
Those checks were being done because of his age.
"Because I was aware of it, I kept doing it, Chris said.
Jon, 62 was diagnosed "one year, four months, seven days, three hours and two minutes ago" he said.
"I was the same as Chris," Jon added. He was aware that he was at the age where prostate cancer could be an issue for him. "I even changed to a lady doctor as I thought, no way did I want a man playing with his fingers anywhere around my bottom because I thought that was the only way you could find out." The GP organised a full blood test. The result apparently showed some elevation of his PSA, but as nothing was said to him he assumed everything was okay.
It was only when three years later he went to another doctor for a check-up that the past blood test plus the new one both showed elevated PSA.
Chris choose a full prostatectomy. "I didn't even consider radiation," he said. "At my age, it was the safest and I believe the best thing. I was very lucky as all my cancers were on the outside of my prostate. One had left my prostate and was heading towards my spine.
I would be dead by now had I not been checked regularly, Chris added.
Jon made the same choice. "A few things I have since learnt that I wish I had been warned about earlier because I went through a fitness regime and certain diets, foods and alkalines to take the sugars and acids out of my diet, and maybe I could have attempted to fight it a different way for a while before I had the full procedure because it is a very slow growing cancer, nine times out of 10," Jon said.
Jon is calling for more groups where men can openly discuss what they are going through. When he first found out about his diagnosis he turned to Chris and another friend, David Adams, because he knew they had experienced the prostate cancer journey and could him understand about what, when and how it was all going to be dealt with.
I just feel it's a bit of under the table, taboo subject with men, Jon said.
He then headed to Facebook and revealed his story. "It's a bit of a male stigma thing attached to it and lot of people don't talk about it," Jon said. "I was surprised the number of my friends who had been through it and I didn't know until I opened up about it. They congratulated me and gave me words of wisdom.
"You need to talk about it more and go and get checked. Particularly, ask about family history of it and if that is the case you have got to start doing it at 40, not 60. The strange thing it wasn't in any of my relatives and my dad was one of 11 boys, and none had it.
"I have warned by son already," Jon added.
Chris is keeping to a healthy eating regime, he keeps up his six-monthly checks and slowed down, a bit, on the beer consumption.
"The strongest message I can say to anyone is don't be frightened to go to your doctor and get your blood tests," Chris said. "And, if there is any doubt, get a digital check. It's better than dying."