EJ WHITTEN FOUNDATION AMBASSADOR – PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR
Comedian Paul Martell tells us about his not so funny fight with Prostate Cancer.
How did you discover you had Prostate Cancer and at what age did it effect you?
It was in 2008 and I was 59. I lead a normally healthy lifestyle,go to the gym a few days a week, walk my dogs, play golf. I do have a cholesterol problem so I go to the doctor regularly and this time the GP said, “Shall we do a blood test for everything?” She rang me back and said your cholesterol is fine, liver is fine and I said ,”Really you want to double check that one?” Blood sugar is good however your PSA has gone from 3 to 5.8 in an 8 month period. I am concerned so I would like you to see a Urologist and get a check up. So I went to the Urologist and he took blood and the unpleasant examination that men have feared since Adam was a boy. He said, “We can normally tell from an examination if there is anything to worry about, all fine off you go and come back in 6 months.”
So I go home and tell my friend that I play golf with up on the Gold Coast by telephone that this happened and I got the all clear. My friend says I suggest you go back and ask for a biopsy because this happened to a friend of mine and he went back 6 months later and it was too late, it had gone into his system.
I went back to my Urologist and asked for a biopsy to which he replied, “ to whom have you been talking to.” I said never mind that I want a biopsy. I have a biopsy, I go back the following week and lo and behold I am told I have medium range Prostate Cancer.
My original Urologist was not there to give me the results. I asked for him but they told me he was having a day off. Another guy comes in and looks at the results and says,“It’s not good is it”. I said well I don’t know I am a comedian. He then explains, “You have medium range Prostate Cancer.”
Now I know why the other doctor has the day off. I was quite angry and I have cleaned it up for this recording.
“What is the next stage?” I ask. The reply, “I will refer you to a specialist and he will give you options.” The next week I had further tests to see if it had escaped out of my prostate into my system. Thankfully for me it hadn’t escaped. Options of brachytherapy, radical surgery, keyhole surgery by the Davinci machine that was getting a lot of publicity back in 2008, I decided for the latter so I had the Davinci machine.
My doctor was Dr Brennar at St Vincent’s Hospital. My wife didn’t want me to have surgery but when we met this surgeon his bedside manner and explanation was very comforting and I felt safe that this was what I wanted to do, so I did.
After the operation
I was walking the next day, it was a robotic removal, home in 3 days, the catheter was unpleasant for 10 days, back at work in 3 weeks, doing pelvic exercises. The doctors and nurses were very supportive and they rang me every couple of days. They put me in contact with other men who have had the same procedure to give me moral support.
I am now on the board of the Prostate Cancer Institute at St George Hospital. I still see that doctor in the neighbourhood and he has never apologised or come back and said I got it wrong. At St George Hospital we have built an accommodation unit where families of men who are being treated can now have free accommodation in the St George Hospital.
If it wasn’t for my friend’s advice, the tumour would have grown and escaped into my body if I had left it for the 6 months. When the surgeon removed it on Sept 18 2008 he said “We got it in time, it had grown larger than I had predicted but it is all out. You will go through the normal erectile problems and we will check this as we go along.”
At 59 were you having any prostate checks prior to this?
I had no symptoms – no frequent bathroom visits, pains or irregularities, so no I didn’t get my prostate checked.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO MEN?
I had the surgery that is not covered by the government, they only cover radical surgery. I had to pay $12,000 it is not cheap. This is why surgeons wear masks, it is criminal. Anyone from Medicare, I thank you for your refund of $12 for my car park.
I had a friend who was fighting Prostate Cancer whose PSA was 2005. They gave him 2 years he defied them and lived for 6 years.
My message is Never Give Up.
Thank you Paul Martell