Prostate Pedallers Blog
Reflections - Living With Prostate Cancer
The holiday season over Christmas and New Year is often a time to look back over the previous 12 months and review the highlights and lowlights! It's also a time to reflect on where you are in your life both professionaly, if you are still working, and also personally.
This is even more pertinent if you have a cancer diagnosis and are living with the disease. Having been diagnosed two years ago I know only too well how hearing the words 'you have cancer' turns your world upside down. Feelings of denial, panic and isolation are very common. Your days are spent trying to process what you have been told, what your treatment might be and what your chances of survival are. I was firmly in another world trying to deal with my situation when the biopsy revealed that I had a Gleason score of 10, my cancer was aggressive, inoperbale and incurable and it had spread to other parts of my body. That was a tough Oncologist meeting and it was noted that I had glazed over about 5 minutes in. Hardly surpising I guess!
It's not only your life that is impacted, it's the life of your family, friends and loved ones. It's a devastating disease that impacts so many people. I felt like I was wading through mud each day - life was tough. I prepared myself for chemotherapy which, little did I know, was just the beginning of a long and tough treatment path.
The hormone therapy I was put on straight after diagnosis was beginning to have side effects which were very unpleasent. It's such a whirlwind adventure, full of fear and hospital visits. Will I ever come to terms with it, will I re-enter society, will I laugh again, will I survive? I didn't think so at the time.
I developed various coping strategies as I went through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. All strategies worked to some extent and some were game changers for me and made me realise that there could be a normal life, even if it was a new normal, after a cancer diagnosis. One of the things I did straight away was to invest in an e-bike. I say invest as this was one of the game changers for me. I went for long cycle rides when I was able to and it helped me escape from my anxiety and treatment.
Soon after diagnosis I was hospitalised as my kidneys were not draining, My assigned cancer nurse came to see me and one of the things she did was to give me the number of a guy that ran a group called the 'Prostate Pedallers'.
Out of curiosity and the need for some support, I called the number and spoke to Charles. As a fellow sufferer he understood my situation, my worries and concerns. It helped enormously. We spoke often and I went to visit him between my chemotherapy treatments. While I didn't cycle with the group at first it was great to know that I could speak to Charles at any time and I knew the rest of the Pedallers were there for additonal support.
I had no idea at the time that this group of guys would be so welcoming and become such good friends. Different ages, different backgrounds, different personalities but all bonded by similar experiences. The positivity amongst the group was infectious and I soon became a regular rider and found I was getting stronger and fitter. I pushed myself and achieved distances I didn't think I was capable of including a 350 mile trip down the Rhone Valley, cycling 70 miles per day. Not only was this cycling good for me physically but also mentally. It gave me focus and purpose and was an escape from the treatment and side effects. The physical improvements helped me take the toxic treatments I was having - there is no doubt about that.
Joining the Pedallers inspired me in other positive ways, one of them being setting up a local cancer support group in my home town Harpenden. The Ribbon Cancer Support Group started in June 2023 and now has over 20 members. I also started playing walking football in 2023 and regularly play for Luton Town in competitions and tournaments throughout the year.
So, has my diagnosis changed my life? No doubt. I see life through a different lens now. I search for positives from my diagnosis. I have met many people and made many good friends. Many exisiting friendships have grown stronger. I am now able to talk to and help people with a cancer diagnosis. I am fitter and stronger and take challenges on without much hesitation.
Was I hesitant about joining the Pedallers? Absolutely! Men don't always find it easy to talk about their feelings. I have spoken to many men who say that they don't need a support group but they come along and are so surprised about how much they enjoy the experience. So much so that they keep coming back!
Nobody would say that getting a cancer diagnosis is easy to deal with. You have to do all you can to make it easier and exercise and support is a huge part of that. We Prostate Pedallers feel nothing matches cycling as an activity. We enjoy the reality of the weather and live in the moment. We get cold, wet and muddy. We bask in the sun, enjoy views and stop for coffee breaks. We do excursions, take on challenges and freely and openly discuss our cancer and compare treatments. As we discover new capabilities and get to know each other, we bond, support and care for each other.
Joining the Pedallers helped me come to terms with my cancer, helped me re-enter society, helped me laugh again and it has to be said, I'm definitely surviving!
If you have a Prostate Cancer diagnosis or are interested in finding out more about the disease get in touch with us. If you can't cycle right now then come along and meet us for a coffee. I've been a Pedaller for two years now and you won't meet a friendlier bunch of men!
Proud Prostate Pedaller