For Movember we hear from one of our French members, Jean-Louis, 61, retired for 5 years, about his experience with prostate cancer. Married and father of two boys and a girl, he was able to count on the support of his family.
1. How did you find out you had prostate cancer?
I had a problem urinating (I used to go to the bathroom quite often) and when I wanted to have sex, I had trouble getting a hard erection. Sometimes it is impossible to reach penetration. My doctor sent me to an urologist and a series of tests detected the onset of cancer cells in the prostate.
2. At that time, did you know what the PSA level is?
I had no idea about the PSA rate. Now, my urologist has told me that the rate must be 0.05 or else it means there is a foreign body and we have to find out why it is happening.
3. What treatment do you follow and how do you live it?
No treatment. I had surgery (total removal of the prostate gland) and then a blood test every six months for follow-up. Nothing else. After the operation, I was amazed to see my penis decreased by 4 to 5 centimetres in length. In addition, my penis often retracts, which makes it small, but when you shake it, it regains some length.
4. Has your cancer had an impact on your relationships with your loved ones?
My whole family knew about it and told me that it was okay because many men have this problem.
Prostate cancer is by far the most common cancer in men, ahead of lung and colorectal cancer. Over the period 2005-2010, the age-standardized net survival at 5 years is 93%, editor's note. (Editor's note)
5. Prostate cancer is sometimes a taboo for men. Have you had any concerns about your virility, any fears about possible impotence?
Yes, I had a lot of anguish about my manhood and especially about being impotent afterwards. I always went to see my doctor and my urologist with my wife, so that she knew everything about this disease. Besides, at first, getting naked in front of your doctor is not easy. She saw that I was a little embarrassed and she made me feel comfortable right away. Now, there is no problem, my shyness is gone.
6. How did you fight against impotency?
For a year, I had small swellings of my penis and took viagra to facilitate erections, but without success. Then I took Levitra which had no effect and finally my urologist showed me how to inject it into the penis. Nice surprise, since my penis swelled after ten minutes, but it wasn't hard enough. My urologist explained to me the dose to put and especially the dose not to exceed because after you have an erection for hours and you have to go back to the urologist who gives you another shot to stop the erection. I had sex shots for 6 months and I can tell you that it doesn't hurt at all. During a visit to my doctor's office she offered me a trial of another pill, Spectra. Since then, I've only been taking this pill and it's working well.
7. What message would you like to send to men who have just been screened?
If you have just been tested, you must take the bull by the horns and follow the treatment or tests to be done according to his urologist or doctor. I have been there, I wasn't brave, but you have to do it for your health and that of your family. But instead of saying that we are going to have surgery, doctors would do better to say that we are going to undergo a massive change of our body, especially our sex.
Above all, don't pay attention to everything that is said on the Internet because there are many lies.
It is important to remember that even if you become impotent, there will always be a solution to get erections. Personally, I went to see how to put in an implant to get erections and it exists. I didn't do badly with that prostate problem!
Courage to all, that's the price you have to pay to stay alive!