Finding out I had prostate cancer
I was on a business trip in Birmingham when I got the phone call. They told me they needed me at the hospital ASAP. I went in, and the rest is history. They discovered that I had prostate cancer.
Being told that I had cancer, I’d rather have been hit around the head with two bricks.
I was in total shock, because cancer happens to other people, it doesn’t happen to Mike. It took two minutes to sink in, and then it was like a volcano of emotion.
After my diagnosis was confirmed, I was thinking things like, “how am I going to tell the boys?” and “how am I going to do this?” – all these types of things were going through my head.
I phoned my brother in law and was quite upset on the phone to him. His wife in the background said, “Tell Mike he’ll be alright because only the good die young!”. That really did make me laugh. It was probably one of the best things anyone could say.
I had a radical prostatectomy which went so well. I was thinking I would get back to work within 6 to 8 weeks. Unfortunately, they then told me that the cancer had spread.
At that point, it was just too much for me and I had a breakdown. Other things had happened, a bankruptcy, my mother being killed in a car accident, everything just caught up with me and mentally I wasn’t well at all. Eventually, I decided to take redundancy. I haven’t worked since.
Coping with the effects of treatment
They put me on hormone injections, which was a very interesting experience. These kill your testosterone. I didn’t feel feminine but the ‘male-ness’ was definitely disappearing.
One of the issues was that my concentration started to go. I used to get hot flushes, dreadful mood swings, my spatial awareness disappeared. It had such a negative impact on my self-confidence.
There was also a point where I became totally urinary incontinent. I was using about 15 pads a day. I decided to have another operation to help, which really has been life-changing.
How Maggie’s helped
I was recommended to visit Maggie's Newcastle and was in fact one of their very first visitors. They have a Monday morning men's group and a prostate cancer support group, both of which I started to attend. I remember at my first group meeting I was so mentally unstable I couldn't even speak (normally I'm the one that never stops talking!).
Maggie’s has also really helped me with my relationships. In the prostate group, they bring in specialists who go through different things, incontinence, treatment updates, side effects.
Thanks to all the support I have had from Maggie's my wife and I's relationship is much stronger now and we understand each other a lot more.
Maggie’s is a place of total tranquillity but also support and help. There is as much or as little support and help as you want.
I would have struggled so much with my diagnosis and understanding the psychological side of things if Maggie’s wasn’t there. They’ve been so fantastic.