November marks Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Tommie Kenoy from Kilmore, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Roscommon is very aware of how important early detection is.
The 70-year-old retired member of An Garda Síochána had made sure to get his PSA levels tested since he was 50; the test, which measures the level of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in your blood, can be used to help diagnose prostate cancer. “I got my PSA levels tested because as well as needing to be aware of things like raised cholesterol, it’s important to look after this aspect too,” he says.
In April 2019, the test revealed that Tommie’s PSA levels were raised. A second test confirmed this and Tommie was sent for a biopsy that showed that there were abnormal cells. “Arising from that I was given two options; to have the gland removed or have brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy). and I opted for brachytherapy,” Tommie explains. “I got that done in January 2020. It was an overnight stay in hospital, the procedure took place in the morning, I had to get a driver home and that was it.”
After the operation, he took painkillers, as well as medication to help with urination. “The after-effects were nothing major,” he says. “It never caused me any big problems. Apart from the increased need to urinate and some headaches, there was no fatigue or any of those things that some people incur.”
When Tommie was first diagnosed, he called the Irish Cancer Society’s Support Line for some advice. “There were things I wanted to ask, for example about opting for surgery or brachytherapy, and what the dangers around incontinence might be,” he says. “I found it very helpful and it was very solid friendly advice.”
He took a measured approach to his diagnosis. “It was there, it had to be dealt with so let’s get on with it,” he says. However, he also acknowledges that this is not the case for everyone. “I do know that getting prostate cancer can affect people psychologically and it’s a pretty substantial issue in that context to overcome. I find that talking can be a great resolver of issues.”
He is also aware of other people who received a prostate cancer diagnosis and whose outcomes were not as positive as his were. “Early detection is absolutely crucial,” he says. “I know people who have prostate cancer and from talking to them, their experiences and mine differ greatly. Some of them weren’t getting their PSA levels tested and their problems were identified too late.
“My consultant told me when I was diagnosed that if this is caught in time, it’s a curative process. I found that a very reassuring term, that you’re having a treatment with a high chance of success. That was very encouraging from a psychological point of view and it also confirmed the importance of getting it diagnosed in time.”
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information