Peter Hayes, from Shanagarry, Cork, returned from a trip to South Africa in September 2022 with a bad chest infection. He had been volunteering there with the Great White Shark Project, something he has a great interest in, and during his South African visit, he had experienced difficulties passing water.
His chest infection necessitated making an appointment with his GP, who noted that Peter hadn’t had his blood checked for 18 months or so. The results came back and all was well. However, his PSA level hadn’t been included – and Peter had been getting this checked for a while – so he returned for more blood tests. A week later, he received a call from his GP asking Peter to come in and see him. “After a chat and exam, he told me my PSA was very high,” Peter recalls. “I asked ‘how high?’ thinking that it might be eight or nine as the normal PSA is four. He told me it was 107 and I was shocked. That’s when I started getting really concerned.”
To rule out prostatitis, Peter was prescribed antibiotics. These lowered his PSA somewhat but it still remained very high, and he was referred to Cork University Hospital. Tests here showed that Peter had cancer. “It didn’t really sink in at the time when I was told I have cancer. You hear it but you don’t hear it,” he says. This was in November and in December Peter had an MRI, and he started 2023 off with a biopsy on January 3. Later that month he saw his consultant again where he was told that his Gleason was an 8 (high grade) and it was deemed to be Stage T3NO cancer. “The consultant said ‘Our aim is to cure you’ and I was delighted with that,” says Peter. However, the MRI had also shown that Peter also had a nodule on his lung, which would need to be investigated.
His treatment plan was to include hormone therapy, followed by radiotherapy. Throughout March, he underwent various tests including a bone scan, PET CT scan and a lung capacity text. “March was quite busy,” he notes. He found the waiting periods between appointments to be frustrating. “It wasn’t happening as quickly as I wanted it to,” he says. More tests followed in June including a colonoscopy, ECG, echocardiogram and a genetics test. There was some good news when it transpired that the nodule in his lung had decreased in size, and he went to his radiology appointments hoping that a plan would now be in place as to when he could begin his radiation treatments. But because Peter’s cancer had spread into his seminal vessels, it was decided that he would be put on a drug to shrink the prostrate before beginning his 37 sessions of radiotherapy.
"I walk the beach, twice a day, sometimes three, with our pup. I cook and I try to enjoy life as much as I can. My wife has been a rock as are my 2 boys."
“It’s a road and it’s a long road,” he says. “The drug I’m on now is causing mood swings and hot flashes which aren’t nice.”
Peter, who is married and has two sons, has taken time off from his work as an apprentice fishmonger and will return when he’s better. “I’ve found the drugs very debilitating in that my tiredness levels are off the charts. Normally, I’d be up and at it by 7am but I found it so hard to get out of bed in the morning. I just didn’t have the energy for work and the company has been very good about it.”
“I walk the beach, twice a day, sometimes three, with our pup. I cook and I try to enjoy life as much as I can. My wife has been a rock as are my 2 boys. He is sharing his story because he wants to raise awareness of prostate cancer and the importance of getting your PSA checked.
“I don’t mind talking about it and I don’t mind telling people. I find that therapy for myself."
Peter has spoken with his friends and encouraged them to be aware of prostate cancer and to get to know the signs and symptoms to look out for.
For more information on prostate cancer, visit 👉https://www.cancer.ie/cancer-information-and-support/cancer-types/prost…