Neal’s Story: Tales of the Unexpected

Neal Bloom shares his experience of prostate cancer

In the past, cancers or the big “C” were a taboo subject with an exclusive membership. Today they let anybody join, even me!

Neal Bloom

Several years ago, there lived a man who drove a white Rolls Royce, who was seen regularly in the Bournemouth / Poole conurbation. The number plate on his distinctive car began with the letters MB. I am referring, of course, to the well-known family entertainer Max Bygraves- I am showing my age, will be 70 in September! Max, nearly always started his act with the phrase “I wanna to tell you a story”. Fellow Prostate Cancer sufferers and others affected by this disease; this is my story so far.

Diagnosis


One evening in July 2018, I went to pass water and there appeared to be more blood than urine. A repeat performance the following morning, persuaded me to contact my GP who informed me that I probably had a bladder infection and prescribed antibiotics. However, he emphasised that if I became unable to pass urine, I was to go to the local A&E department. The possibility of spending 4 hours at A&E on a lovely hot summer’s day did not cheer me up!

I am my wife’s carer as she had two operations in 2017 to remove a benign brain tumour and insert a shunt. That afternoon, we had invited friends for tea. I was unable to pass anything and a friend drove me to A&E. Following a PSA test, CT Scan and various internal examinations, I was told by the consultant that my PSA was 907 (normal range was up to 4). I asked him if I should contact the Guinness Book of Records but no reaction- no sense of humour some people! I was told I had Prostate Cancer and that the next morning I would see a cancer nurse.

Double Trouble: Hormone Therapy and Chemotherapy


I cannot account for my immediate reaction, although my wife, unsurprisingly, was in shock and had only returned home from hospital within the last 6 months herself. The cancer nurse informed us that I was suffering from advanced prostate cancer which had spread to my bones. My treatment for the first 21 days would consist of 1 pill per day and hormone therapy injections. I was supplied with a list of the possible side-effects of hormone therapy and can now sympathise with women going through the menopause! I received the first injection whilst in hospital and subsequent injections have taken place every 3 months at my surgery.

I was advised I would be having 6 sessions of chemotherapy at 3 weekly intervals and would be taking daily steroids. The day before my first session of chemotherapy, my height and weight were measured. I was told that the day before every session, I was to consume 8 additional steroids- I was beginning to rattle!

The first session of chemotherapy wasn’t too traumatic. I had no adverse reactions until session 3 when I noticed that not only was my hair falling out in bundles from my head but rapidly disappearing from other areas of my body- I know, too much information! In my last 3 sessions, I noticed different side-effects, for example: bleeding fingers; pins and needles in my fingers which spread to my toes; and finger nails turning a funny colour. However, thankfully I did not experience nausea. My last session of chemotherapy was in January 2019.

My Situation Today


The pins and needles disappeared from my fingers, replaced by neuropathy, a kind of nerve damage that can cause tingling or numbness, in my toes and feet. My consultant told me this may be permanent so they had no objections to me trying alternative medicine [note to readers: if you wish to try alternative medicine, please ensure that like Neal, you have a conversation with your doctor to ensure that you do it safely]. I have had 6 sessions of acupuncture (on a private basis) and 3 sessions of reflexology (free provided by a local cancer charity). To date the flare ups are not as bad but my balance is a problem.

At the moment my wife, Rosamunde, and I cannot due to our conditions make any long term plans. I have to survive long enough to ensure that she would be self-sufficient and hope that PCR can obtain a cure as soon as possible. I no longer concern myself (as far as possible) with what might happen within the next 3 years and know at the moment, apart from the neuropathy, my physical condition is OK.

In the past, cancers or the big “C” were a taboo subject with exclusive membership. Today they let anybody join, even me! To paraphrase the late American comedian Groucho Marx, “would I want to join a club where they would accept me as a member?” I wish you all a good and long life and hope that you stay as positive as possible.

Patient Voice


If you have been affected by prostate cancer and would like to share your experiences, email patientvoice@pcr.org.uk for more information.

Press enter or esc to cancel